Sustainable development of oceans key to ending hunger, says UN official at Pacific meeting

12 April 2013

The fight against hunger and climate change will hinge on the success of sustainable development of oceans and fisheries, a top United Nations official stressed today, adding that there can be “no truly ‘green economy’ without a ‘blue economy.’”

Speaking at the 10th Meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) South West Pacific Ministers for Agriculture, held in the Samoan capital of Apia, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva told those gathered that the sustainable development of the world’s maritime harvests, as well as climate change, had become “a question of survival – just like hunger.”

“The importance of capture fisheries and aquaculture cannot be neglected,” Mr. Graziano da Silva said, pointing out that they provide over 3 billion people with about 15 per cent of their average per capita intake of animal protein while also contributing to over 200 million jobs globally.

“At the same time, these vital services must not jeopardize the key role oceans play in regulating the earth’s climate. They absorb more than 25 per cent of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere from human activities,” he added.

The Southwest Pacific comprises both a sizeable and vulnerable swathe of the Earth’s surface, accounting for an estimated 15 per cent of the globe. In addition, it includes around 2,000 islands and atolls which are particularly susceptible to storms and flooding as well as scarcity of potable water and stresses on the fishery and forestry ecosystems, according to the FAO.

Mr. Graziano da Silva noted that although the international community had made significant strides in its fight against hunger, much still remained to be done on food security and quality of nutrition in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of halving, by 2015, the number of people suffering from hunger, as measured against 1990 benchmarks.

In particular, he pointed out that three-quarters of all adult deaths in the Pacific are linked to nutrition and lifestyle-related diseases.

The meeting – which concludes on 13 April – brings together 14 countries from the region in an effort to review and adopt and overall plan for the FAO’s work there.

The agency already supports the Pacific island countries in numerous ways by working with them on issues ranging from illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and the management of tuna fishing to the management of marine areas beyond national jurisdictions.

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