The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and why you need to know about them
Sustainability has been a buzz word for some time now as we realise the impact humans have on our planet. We need to protect tomorrow from what we do today, or, as the United Nations (UN) World Commission on Environment and Development defines it:
“Sustainable development … meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
Sustainability has also been described as having three pillars – most obviously environmental but also social, protecting the interest of workers and communities, and economic: if activity depletes financial reserves and reduces incomes then that is not sustainable.
As our awareness of sustainability has grown, so has the need to add more definition, and set goals to guide business and government.
In 2015, the UN member states adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The blueprint is made from 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They expand on the previous three categories and recognise that, for a sustainable future, ending poverty, gender discrimination and hunger go with protecting oceans and forests, improving education, health and economic growth.
So why is this important to the consumer? We are all affected by the actions of governments and industry and should all be concerned about the future of our planet. Under each SDG are a number of targets to achieve by 2030 – these provide a measure of what progress industry and governments are making, allowing the public to make informed choices in their purchasing or voting. If the future of the planet is important to you, the SDGs are one of the best indicators of how society is doing to achieve a sustainable future.
ASC fully supports the UN SDGs and is most directly involved with SDG 14, Life Below Water, as we work to reduce the environmental impact of aquaculture and improve social standards. For us, it’s not just about Life Below Water – our mission has been “For the people, the planet, and the future” and we touch every SDG in one way or another, with nearly a half of the SDG targets being particularly relevant to the aquaculture industry. Strong contributions include:
- SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) as aquaculture provides food for the future
- SDG 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing) recognizing the importance of the Omega 3’s, high protein and low carbohydrate nutrition offered by farmed fish
- SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) ensuring aquaculture does not pollute
- SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production) allowing consumers to make informed choices.
Progress is reported by the UN annually. Some targets are proving harder to achieve than others – the COVID pandemic and other factors making it unlikely all of the 2030 targets will be reached. Nonetheless, ASC is committed to progressing the UN SDGs wherever possible. We are currently analysing the contribution of responsible aquaculture to the SDGs and will be reporting our findings later this year.
In the meantime, choosing aquaculture products that carry the ASC logo is your chance to help protect the needs of future generations and our planet.