The Right to Food

Fishers are not the problem, but part of the climate solution

News - 19.04.2024

At the 55th UN Human Rights Council session, Michael Fakhri, the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, presented his latest report on Fisheries and the Right to Food in the Context of Climate Change. His key messages were: "The ocean is our mother, and rivers are her kin," and "Just as there is no life without water, there is no life for millions in coastal and riparian communities without small-scale fishers and fish workers."

The report focuses on the small-scale fisheries sector, which is on the frontline of climate change. Building on previous reports, it is contextualized within the International Year of Artisanal Fisheries and Aquaculture. Fakhri argues that “the full enjoyment of human rights by small-scale fishers and fish workers is a necessary precondition for realizing the right to food for everyone." Realizing these rights, with a focus on gender justice, would strengthen entire coastal and riparian communities, making food systems more resilient and adaptable to climate change.

Fakhri highlighted the invaluable knowledge that small-scale fishers and Indigenous Peoples possess for adapting to climate change, as well as their critical role in feeding communities. However, he stressed that legal protection and platforms for their voices to be heard are essential. A central issue is the territorial use rights for fishing, locally managed marine areas and respecting customary tenure rights.

The Special Rapporteur urged states to fully implement the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication, seeking FAO assistance when needed. He further called on states to uphold Indigenous Peoples' rights to self-determination and free, prior and informed consent by implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and to ratify ILO and IMO conventions ensuring decent work conditions. WTO negotiations should also consider small-scale fishers' interests.

The FAO commended Fakhri's work, noting 2024 marks the 10th anniversary of the Small-Scale Fisheries Guidelines and the 20th of the Right to Food Guidelines, thereby presenting an opportunity for synergistic implementation of both policy instruments to better promote food security and access to healthy diets amid climate change.

In closing, Fakhri stated, "The solutions exist; you have the tools. Implement them to support small-scale fishers' rights, and enact and enforce laws locally to protect their rights."

For more information:


Share this page