SOUTH AFRICA – As millions of people across the globe still grapple with food insecurity and malnutrition, this year’s World Food Day, celebrated every 16th October, is being marked in a year with multiple global challenges, including the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict, climate change, rising prices and international tensions.

With the theme ‘Leave NO ONE behind’, this year’s World Food Day campaign emphasises the impact of rising cost of living and that of a climate that won’t stop warming on global food security.

This challenges governments, food business and the public to help build a sustainable world where the global population has regular access to nutritious food.

According to a timely study launched by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), the international not-for-profit responsible for the world’s most widely used sustainable seafood ecolabel, shows that consumers have increasingly turned their attention to climate change concerns.

The study conducted by independent insights consultancy GlobeScan in 23 countries and involving 25,000 seafood consumers, found that more than half of respondents (53%) said they’re most concerned about the impact of climate change, followed by pollution (39%), extreme weather events (38%), and the health of oceans/decline in fish populations (33%).

People are also becoming significantly more worried about the impact of climate change on the oceans, with a 10% increase from four years ago (up from 27% to 37%).

With their worries over climate change growing, nearly half (44%) highlighted they have changed their diet in the past two years to protect the environment.

These include to eat more sustainably sourced food (23%), reduce climate change impact (20%) and protect the oceans (12%).

Of those who said they changed their diet to protect the climate (increasingly referred to as “Climatarians”), 43% have bought more sustainable seafood in the past year, compared to just 23% for all other respondents. While nearly 1 in 2 South Africans surveyed (48%) are willing to buy sustainable seafood in the future.

Almost all (87%) climatarians believe that in order to save the ocean they have to consume fish and seafood only from sustainable sources.

The survey clearly showed that more than three-quarters (78%) of South African consumers surveyed now recognise that the fish/seafood choices they make can help make a difference to the health of our oceans – that is above the global average of 67%.

“The environmental impact of the choices consumers make are now a real concern and is increasingly driving more consumers to make changes that help prevent climate change,” highlighted MSC.

As the earth warms fast and the consequences become ever more severe, everyone has been called to make mitigating and adapting to climate change the priority.

Other than consumption of seafood that is deemed to produce less carbon as compared to red meat, consumers can also move towards other sustainable and healthy diets such as the Mediterranean-style diet rich in grains, vegetables, nuts, fish and poultry.

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