Social Protection for Sustainable Blue Food Systems


Oceans cover 70 per cent of the world’s surface and contain 80 per cent of all life (UN, 2022). 40 per cent of the population live 100km from the coast and the ocean provides 3.1 billion of them with their primary source of protein (UN, 2017). Marine food systems, however, are increasingly under strain. Unsustainable fishing has skyrocketed: the percentage of fish populations unsustainably fished has more than tripled in the last half century (WWF, 2023). 90 per cent of fish stocks are now overexploited (UNCTAD, 2018)  

Despite the challenges marine food systems face, they receive little attention compared to terrestrial environmental issues and food systems. However, broken marine food systems and disrupted aquatic environments have severe implications for human development. Rising sea temperatures, for example, exacerbate the risk and intensity of storms, lead to more extreme weather patterns, increase the range of tropical diseases, reduce the ability of the ocean to absorb carbon, and lead to rising sea levels. These risks disproportionally affect the most vulnerable: poor populations are more likely to live in areas prone to flooding while more than 90 per cent of fishers and fish farmers live in developing countries (AFDB, 2015).  

This session will explore how social protection can foster links to aquatic systems. Blue food systems transformation can only be achieved through policy coherence that brings environmental sustainability and socioeconomic well-being together. The session will discuss how social protection can encourage an inclusive blue economy by supporting resilient marine and coastal ecosystems and vulnerable people who depend on them by providing transfers, implementing compensatory payments, improving access to social protection schemes, and implementing labour market programmes.  



Guy Standing, Professorial Research Associate, SOAS University of London 

Daniela Kalikoski, Fishery Officer, FAO

Jorge Guillermo Barbosa, Blue Economy Advisor (UNDESA)


Moderator: Juan Gonzalo Jaramillo Mejia, Social Protection Programme Policy Officer, WFP


Recommended resources:

The Blue Commons: Rescuing the Economy of the Sea


This webinar is being organised in the context of the Policy Dialogue Series. The Series gathers members of the USP2030 Working Group on Social Protection and Food Systems Transformation and guests to regularly discuss how to strengthen the linkages and synergies between social protection and food systems.