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Climate Change on the Agenda at Vienna Conference

March 17, 2020

By Desirée Pesci

Climate change could have far-reaching consequences for many fish farmers, and the solutions will require urgent and collaborative action across multiple sectors. In that spirit, ASC recently attended the Diplomatic Academy Students’ Initiative Conference (DASICON) in Vienna. The conference took place on February 28 and is organised by the students of the Diplomatische Akademie Wien. It addresses different topics every year, and this year’s focus was on climate change, the challenges we are facing and the urgent need for climate action.

Representatives from the public, political and economic sectors were invited as speakers to describe their part in the fight against climate change. Prominent figures from the United Nations, the European Union, Fridays for Future, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), Sustainable Energy for All, and many others, analysed current efforts made in their working environment and discussed new possible solutions to one of the biggest challenges of our time.

The first panel for dialogue was honoured by the presence of the Federal President of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen, who stressed the critical importance of cooperative action and the role of younger generations in fighting the climate crisis. Other presentations and panels saw the exchange of ideas and opinions on several themes, such as the move from disposable to more circular economies, energy transition, and the empowerment of vulnerable groups. The debates highlighted the connections between different areas and the importance of collaborations between them.

The Federal President of Austria, Alexander Van der Bellen

A significant part of the discussion, which also arose from several questions from the public, was about the role of citizens. How do we incorporate the fight against climate change in our daily life? How can we contribute and put sustainability into practice? Answers from speakers ranged from suggesting ways to reduce emissions, such as choosing sustainable transport more often, keeping yourself always informed about climate related matters, joining environmental movements, taking part in peaceful protests, and staying engaged politically.

Climate change is a global issue with consequences that will have big impacts on matters that concern us all, and aquaculture is no exception to that. As we have said in a previous blog post, climate change, food security and food production are deeply interconnected issues. Unpredictable and extreme weather events, such as ocean acidification, floods, sea level rises and costal erosion, can be among the biggest threats not only to marine ecosystems and fish species, but to aquaculture as well. Many fish farms are of course sited in coastal areas, and small-scale farmers are even more vulnerable.

On the right: ASC Communications Manager, Desirée Pesci

Food security is at risk and being able to ensure food supply to the world’s rapidly growing population is part of ASC’s mission. Therefore, it is necessary for us to be part of the global dialogue on climate change.

We have previously made clear that responsible seafood should be part of the solution against climate change. Seafood production has a lower carbon footprint compared to other animal production systems, and the increase of its consumption as an alternative to red meat can reduce our environmental impact. For example, farmed salmon produces a fraction of the carbon generated by the beef industry and the pressure on the environment represented by feed to grow stock is the lowest by far with seafood production.

However, simply increasing seafood consumption is not enough on its own to combat the consequences of climate change, and this is why ASC plays a role on driving aquaculture towards environmental sustainability and social responsibility. Our standards include requirements in regards to protection of biodiversity, pollution measurement to remain within set limits, health surveillance and prohibition of the use of medicines before diseases are diagnosed.

One of the main topics of the DASICON conference was the role of citizens and what each of us can do to put sustainability into practice. One thing you can do is looking for the ASC logo and choosing responsibly farmed seafood, which can really make a difference in protecting our oceans, lakes, and rivers.

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