The start of a new year is a time for reflecting on what we would like to change and what resolutions we need to adopt to make change happen. Focusing on areas of relevance to WorldFish, here are my top 4 resolutions for 2014:
- Greater focus on gender
We need to continue to look closely at gender issues within our organization and within the communities we serve. At WorldFish, a priority is to increase the number of women in leadership roles; not only is this the right thing to do, it will also bring more diversity to the table and improve our decision-making and leadership. In our work, we must accelerate our focus on gender transformative research approaches. We must continue to shift our focus from simply researching how the lack of women’s empowerment and access to productive assets is a major impediment to achieving development outcomes, to how transformation of gender roles can be achieved.
- A collective vision for the fish food system
Stakeholders are increasingly recognizing that we need to work in a much more coordinated and aligned way if the world’s long-term demands for fish are to be met. What is needed now is a much clearer shared picture of what those demands will be and the pathways for achieving them. The pathways that lead to increased productivity must include: improving wild fishery catches through better management, reducing losses and waste, and increasing aquaculture production through improved efficiencies and industry growth. WorldFish needs to help build that picture and use it to help stakeholders from the private sector, government, academia, and civil society identify a series of aligned and coordinated collective actions for moving the fish food system in the desired direction.
- Sustainable small-scale fisheries
There has been a growing recognition that understanding local context is the key to solving over-fishing and ensuring that the benefits from small-scale fisheries are equitably distributed. Rather than promoting adoption of particular technical approaches, our effort must go primarily into dialogue and engagement processes that ensure those with the greatest interest and incentive to make the fisheries sustainable are part of discussion and decision-making. As a result, we will see much more resilient and sustainable fisheries with an increasing number of conflicts being resolved, fish populations being harvested at sensible levels, and fisheries delivering greater economic and social benefits to those most in need.
- Fresh impetus for aquaculture
We need a renewed focus on how aquaculture production can be sustained to achieve rural development outcomes without increasing its environmental footprint. This will require us to develop new initiatives for sharing best practices and improving efficiencies along with innovative financing mechanisms to support industry development. We will also need to further improve the ways we assess the environmental impacts of aquaculture and its demands on resources at both the farm and landscape levels. Then, we need to integrate this understanding into support for national development programs.
These are ambitious resolutions, but with focus, energy, and a commitment to building and sustaining partnerships, I’m confident that acting on these resolutions will help us move toward a world with less poverty, and food security for all.