WWF-SA working towards addressing social questions in SASSI assessments

In the past we have written about the science of WWF-SASSI and what goes into the assessments before arriving at the sustainability status, but we have something new brewing. In light of the global COVID-19 pandemic that the world is currently facing, there is an increased urgency to achieve true sustainability addressing not only the environment but also the social and economic needs of people.

As you may know, the focus of the WWF-SASSI assessments has been on the ecological sustainability of fisheries, with only one broad question (on an ecosystem approach to fisheries management) which looks to incorporate human considerations. Over the last few years, WWF South Africa  (WWF-SA) has been challenged that the current WWF-SASSI assessments do not explicitly include any considerations of human dimensions such as local ecological knowledge, forced or unfair labour practices and food security challenges.

You can only imagine WWF SA’s excitement to join 17 other WWF offices around the world as part of the Fish Forward 2 Project. This aims to include human dimensions, and achieve behavior change of consumers and corporates based on increased awareness and knowledge of the implications of seafood consumption.  WWF-SA’s role in the project was twofold.

  1. Firstly, WWF-SA hosted a series of  engaging regional workshops with small-scale fishing communities on the WWF-SASSI assessment with focused discussions on local ecological knowledge and the key social issues facing them every day.
  2. The second component of the project was to look at how WWF can include these social issues into the WWF-SASSI assessments.

WWF SA is currently researching and trialing possible ways of including human dimensions into the existing sustainability process. Some of the key social components that WWF-SA are considering are quite important and include; access to resources, gender equality, child labour, forced labour, food security, co-management, economically self-sufficient and local ecological knowledge.

By researching and trialling this approach, WWF-SA is hoping to fill the gap between the ecological work that is currently being done and the missing social consideration to ultimately achieve true sustainability.

Monica Stassen & Delsy Sifundza: WWF-SASSI