Speaker

Seagriculture EU

18 - 20 June 2024

Tórshavn, Faroe Islands

A Global Seaweed Coalition to enable a Seaweed Revolution 

Vincent Doumeizel, Senior Advisor Ocean, United Nations Global Compact, France

About the speaker: 

Vincent started working in Africa for the French government supporting international aid. There he realized the impact of poverty and global hunger and decided to devote his life to mitigate them. With now 20 years experience in the Food sector, he is now Senior Adviser for Ocean at United Nations Global Compact as well as director for the Food Programme for the Lloyd’s Register Foundation. Partnering with institutions and large brands, Vincent led the “Seaweed Manifesto” in a call to scale up the seaweed industry in order to address our most important challenges (hunger, climate change, pollution, poverty, etc..). Vincent is now leading the 1st global platform for Seaweed Stakeholders, the Global Seaweed Coalition and actively advocate for seaweed in all medias and high level events around the globe (see here)

Last year, Vincent released “The Seaweed Revolution” (Legend Times), a reference book that already received many awards & accolades around the world.


Organization info:

The UN Global Compact is the world's largest corporate sustainability initiative with 13000 corporate participants and other stakeholders over 170 countries with two objectives: "Mainstream the ten principles in business activities around the world" and "Catalyse actions in support of broader UN goals. It is a non-binding United Nations pact to encourage businesses worldwide to adopt sustainable and socially responsible policies, and to report on their implementation. The UN Global Compact is stating ten principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment and anti-corruption. Under the Global Compact, companies are brought together with UN agencies, labor groups and civil society.


Presentation: 

Seaweed has the potential to play a globally significant role in contributing to SDGs that support life below waters, sustainable job-creation, economic growth, and gender equality.

So far our history has been mostly fueled by land production and we are in the stone age when it comes to farming the oceans as it is happening only in Asia so far. Ocean covers 70% of our planet and contribute to less than 3% of our food supply in calory today while 800 M people are going hungry to bed every day.

Still seaweed could indeed contribute to feed our population and our animal with very nutritious food as well as to support our agriculture with biostimulants replacing fertilizers. Seaweed can also clean the ocean, replace plastic and unsustainable resource, provide innovation for medicines, mitigate climate change by absorbing CO2 & decarbonizing our economy, support biodiversity below waters and provide sources of revenues and jobs in coastal communities where fishing is declining. In emerging economies, most of the revenues go to women and as such contribute to women empowerment. Seaweed may well be the greatest untapped resource we have on the planet to address the most pressing challenges of our generation. Being the first trophic level, if we want to repair the ocean ecosystem instead of destroying them, seaweed is a very good place to start. Following the launch of the Seaweed Manifesto in 2020, was created the first ever global coalition for seaweed stakeholders in order to accelerate science, attract investors, enable cooperation and avoid inefficiencies. This coalition, in partnership with UNGC and Lloyd’s Register Foundation, already accounts 800+ members from international institutions to large food brands as well as academics, NGO’s and seaweed producers. Coalition and collaboration are the keystone to build on that momentum to raise awareness by everyone on that potential and create a seaweed revolution to support sustainable futures.

Interview:

1) You travel the whole world as Senior Adviser on the oceans to the United Nations Global Compact. What visit do you remember best over the past year?

There are so many great memories and a lot of enthusiasm. But the best memories are not related to places or visits but to people. I remember those brave women in Zanzibar spending entire days in shallow waters but who found a way to get jobs, revenues, empowerment, and dignity out of seaweed. I remember diving in the Kelp Forest in Patagonia, South of Chili, with local researchers, swimming into some kind of 60 meters high seaweed cathedrals colored with lights and fishes of all kind. I remember this momentum that we, as Global Seaweed Coalition, lived together with this first EU Algae Summit in Paris last October when we join forces to speak with political delegates from all EU countries. I remember diving near the magnificent Ouessant Island in Brittany being filmed by the CNN crew for a documentary that was later to be seen by a global audience of 200 M + people on TV.

But more than anything, I best remember this light of hope and enthusiasm in the eyes of this young audience in high schools and universities, when you show these kids, our own kids ! , that the world is not yet doom and that there are is an ocean of solution lying there ! Demonstrating them that seaweed is possibly the greatest untapped resource we have on this planet is the best of all experiences and it can be done anywhere ! 


2) How can we stimulate people in Europe to eat (more) seaweeds?

We need to tell the world that seaweed is good for the body and for the planet. Speaking to the next generation may be actually the best way to make a change. Kids and young people are more progressive and adaptable. And eventually, they can influence their parents. This is why, following my Seaweed Revolution book, I am now about to release a children book on seaweed and then a graphic novel.

Chefs are also major influencers to show how seaweed could be delicious. People are initially disgusted by seaweed. We should change this. There are many different taste and even if you don’t like them raw, try to cook them. Cocoa beans or potatoes are disgusting if not cooked. Still as chips or chocolate, everybody like them. The same goes for seaweed, let’s learn to cook them and let’s be creative about it !


3) What is your vision on the European seaweed industry?

I reckon the food market will take some time to emerge at large scale and we may need to wait for a generation. Still, in the meantime, other seaweed applications, such as animal feed, biostimulant, packaging are equally interesting and could provide a great source of revenues to make this industry attractive and highly resilient.

Still we have some prerequisite work to be done. Ease social licensing at national level, domesticate our own endemic seaweed and do not rely on Asian species only, streamline regulations to open the market, develop sustainable extraction processes to valorize all seaweed compounds . This is such an exciting journey ahead of us ! But we will have to be patient and more importantly get together. We can make it but it can only be altogether!