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FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

High-Level International Meeting on the Global Blue Growth Initiative for Latin America and the Caribbean

Mexico City.
27-11-17 - 28-11-17

Background

Food security is not only a future concern, but a current priority for action for three reasons: (i) by 2060, population growth is expected to rise up 9 billion inhabitants with 760 million inhabitants alone in Latin America and the Caribbean; (ii) increased aggravation of adverse climatic events; and (iii) the global economic slowdown.

In this context, fish protein plays a critical role in food and nutritional security. Never before has so much fish (fish and shellfish) been consumed in the world. Fishing and aquaculture´s fish protein availability grows at rates much higher than those of other food producing sectors. According to the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (FAO, 2016) fish provides essential protein and nutrients, constituting at least 17 percent of the animal protein consumed globally. Increasing social awareness of the benefits of fish intake has stimulated a significant increase in consumption, from a per capita intake of 4 kg per year in 1960 to 21 kg per year in 2015 (FAO, 2016).

Recent estimates (World Fish, 2014) indicate that by the year 2030, 88 million tonnes of additional fish and seafood will be required to meet the increase in global demand for protein of aquatic origin, of which about 63 million need to be produced by aquaculture. Presently, 85 percent of the world’s fisheries are fully or over-exploited, causing habitat deterioration and putting at risk biodiversity of aquatic ecosystems.

From an environmental perspective, fisheries and aquaculture are the food source with the lowest greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and are less water intensive.

In addition to being one of the most important sources of food, aquatic ecosystems play a key role in climate regulation, carbon sequestration, oxygen production and the water cycle. More than 3 billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods and global marine and coastal resources account for more than 5 percent of world GDP.

Latin American and Caribbean countries belong to a high biological, physiographic and ecologically diverse region that contributes significantly to environmental stability and global food availability. Vast and diverse hydrobiological resources throughout the Atlantic and Pacific marine ecosystem account for nearly 12 percent of global fish production and almost 4 percent of aquaculture production. Watersheds in Latin America and the Caribbean also account 20 percent of freshwater and houses almost 30 percent of the mangrove ecosystems of the planet. Their protection and sustainable use are imperative for the welfare of future generations.

Aquatic ecosystems’ biological, economic and environmental importance is grounded in the Agenda 2030, precisely in SDG 14: "Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources", promoting effective fisheries management and putting an end to overfishing, illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and other destructive practices.

These commitments contribute to environmental stability and the eradication of hunger and poverty and call for unprecedented global efforts and political commitment at the highest level to ensure immediate actions framed in long-term strategies.

FAO's Global Blue Growth Initiative

The Blue Growth Initiative (BGI) encompasses global programmatic efforts and structured actions around the logic of FAO's new strategic framework. Its central objective is to achieve food security and nutrition, poverty alleviation and economic growth through the sustainable use of living aquatic resources and the conservation of biological resources and marine, coastal and continental ecosystems.

This initiative is aimed at reconciling economic growth with improved livelihoods and social equity, and strengthening transparent, reliable and more secure food systems. Blue Growth also places greater responsibility on national and regional policies for protecting living aquatic resources.

The initiative was created in 2013 and has four main pillars:

  1. Sustainable management of fisheries resources and combating illegal, unreported and illegal fishing (IUU fishing)
  2. Sustainable development of aquaculture production through an ecosystem approach to aquaculture (EAA)
  3. Responsible and sustainable use of economic opportunities and ecosystem services derived from aquatic natural resources
  4. Promotion of fair and inclusive trade and markets with social support

A high-level regional meeting

In the context of macroeconomic volatility and recurring environmental pressures, the BGI provides a unique framework to harness cooperation to strengthen food and nutritional security in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Having a high-level regional forum is an ideal platform to identify common goals and establish political commitments around responsible and sustainable approaches that reconcile economic growth and food security together with the conservation of aquatic resources.

Objective

Therefore, the overall objective of the meeting is to create an international and high-level platform for collaboration to identify spaces for joint action and suitable cooperation mechanisms among countries in the region to facilitate the attainment of SDG 14.

Specific objectives

  • Identify and discuss the main challenges and economic opportunities ahead for the fisheries and aquaculture sectors in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Promote actions to increase the impact of fisheries and aquaculture on food and nutritional security and the alleviation of rural poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Identify potential regional sectoral policy mechanisms to develop new national strategies or improve existing national policies that reconcile economic growth of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors with food security and the sustainable use of aquatic natural resources.

Expected outcome

A regional strategy built upon political commitment to promote Blue Growth in an integral and sustainable way in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Participants

Ministerial authorities responsible for the development of fisheries and aquaculture in the countries of the region; representatives of global and regional fishermen and aquaculture organizations; international development banks; international cooperation agencies; foundations with interests and activities in sustainable management of aquatic resources; regional fisheries management and aquaculture cooperation organizations; civil society organizations that contribute to these purposes; regional trade organizations and regional parliamentarian mechanisms with legislative responsibilities in fisheries and aquaculture.

Event organizers

This meeting is jointly organized by the Mexican National Commission for Aquaculture and Fisheries (CONAPESCA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).