Bridging the Decades


The Global Action Network – Sustainable Food from the Oceans and Inland Waters for Food Security and Nutrition has for a long time recognized the value of highlighting food security and nutrition in several frameworks and initiatives. Being closely connected to the Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2025) from the start of the Global Action Network in 2017, the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (Ocean Decade, 2021-2030) has been recognized as another useful framework.

Early in the Ocean Decade, FAO announced the EAF-Nansen Programme as a contribution to the Ocean Decade. The EAF-Nansen programme was recently renewed with funding from Norad for 2024-2028 and has improved food and nutrition security for people in partner countries by sustainable fisheries as its long-term objective.

The Ocean Decade has identified 10 challenges of which Challenge 3 is stated as “to sustainably feed the global population”. However, with projects being initiated in a process that has been mostly bottom-up, there is still a limited number of Ocean Decade programmes and projects addressing food security and nutrition.

In the ongoing Ocean Decade Vision 2030 process, White Papers are being written for each of the challenges. Broad and open consultation is taking place for all the papers. The Ocean Decade Conference in Barcelona in April 2024 will provide an opportunity for further discussion and revision. In addition, there will be satellite events specifically dedicated to fisheries, aquaculture, and nutrition.

While the ocean science community historically has perhaps not fully embraced nutrition science and connections to the food system, change is underway. In 2023 the IOC/FAO/ICES/PICES conference on the Effects of Climate Change on the Worlds Ocean (ECCWO-5) hosted by the Institute of Marine Research (IMR), Norway highlighted nutritional aspects. The Working Group for challenge 3, cochaired by Vera Agostini of FAO and Erik Olsen of IMR has suggested that rather than “feed”, this challenge should in the future use the word “nourish” in its title. This small change of wording will not in itself change a lot, but it is an expression of the increasing attention to food security and nutrition in ocean science including the the science-policy interface. With the Global Action Network being extended to 2030 and good forces coming together, we can expect to see more bridges being built in the years to come.


Photographs: From the discussion of Decade Challenge 3 at a regional conference in India, 1-3 February 2024, as lead-up to Barcelona