About making the Sustainable Development Goals relevant for the Norwegian Fish farmers with the digital tool SDG Wizard.
Less talk, more action. This was one of the topics of discussion during Day Zero in the 2021 SDG Conference Bergen. How can we actually use the sustainable development goals? How can we report on them, as Norway has committed to do? As one of the most innovative industries in Norway, the aquaculture industry has the opportunity to be precedent here. Sustainability reporting for aquaculture businesses is already becoming a demand from customers and consumers. However, when it comes to reporting on the SDGs, there are in my opinion a lot of topics within the industry that is not mentioned or are hard to be connected to the existing indicators. The changes we need is not happening in the speed we need. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development describes ambitious goals that we are to fulfill in 2030, just around the corner. The aquaculture industry cannot and will not wait for the UN to make indicators for them. So how can we make it easier for the industry to report on the SDGs?
In the pilot project this spring, the SDG Wizard team worked with Salmon Group, a significant Norwegian aquaculture representative. This is an aquaculture network consisting of over 40 family owned, independent fish farmers of salmon and trout along the Norwegian coastline. They are the entrepreneurs of the industry and have for more than fifty years innovated – tried and failed – and developed the industry to become the global industry it is today. It is safe to say that they know aquaculture. Salmon Group has for the last four years worked systematically, strategic and concrete with sustainability, recognized for their work internationally, and is therefore an attractive partner for the SDG Wizard project. They are highly concerned with research- and knowledge-based changes and the fact that people need to see and understand systems and contexts to being able to do required adjustments in mindset and operations. To actually create change all the way to consumer level, they have started the work at the start of their shareholders value chain. By raising awareness on how the fish farmers every day actions impact the carbon footprint of the fish they produce, they ensure an increase in knowledge and understanding in order to create behavioral change. In other words, Salmon Group has started taking action, and they have proved that systematic work back and forth in the value chain (back to third-party suppliers) ensures a more sound resource management, help producers to lower their negative impact when producing food and help people to making better consumer choices.
The SDG Wizard team wants to take this further and move to the next level. The goal is to develop the SDG Wizard – a digital tool for efficient sustainability reporting, providing customized questions for the SDG targets. Making indicators and questions the industry can relate to is the most important part in making them actually want to report on the SDGs. Also making the question bank dynamic and at all times relevant is essential when dealing with the ever changing and evolving aquaculture industry. The tool will also be used to raise awareness and educate. The goal of the pilot project conducted this spring (March-June 2021) was to check if there is both needs and demand for a tool like this. Safe to say, the positive feedback for action in the form of a tool like this, is absolutely present.
For my project I was originally meant to be developing the question bank. However, as biology teaches us – adaptation is key. Some of the words of wisdom my supervisor has bestowed upon me this semester is: You can plan and plan, but reality is that things never go according to plan. Although we planned on developing a “question bank” in this BIO299 project, it became clear in this pre-project with Salmon Group that much work still has to be done on developing indicators. This spring has been more about gathering information and taking that into the process of how to make the right questions. We hosted three workshops, all very rewarding. In the first workshop we did a Relevance Tracing, where we together with Salmon Group identified 103 SDG targets relevant for the aquaculture industry (Fig. 2).
In the second workshop we among other things tested an approach to identify relevant questions that can contribute to reporting on indicator level, combined with fulfilling the goal of pedagogically heighten the level of knowledge on sustainability within reporting companies. By addressing important and relevant issues for the aquaculture industry, and creating questions linked to the relevant targets, we will end up with targets that summarizes the issues. For more details, have a look at the poster underneath (Fig. 3).
Working on this project has been very rewarding. I think that being given the chance to learn by working with people in science and on a real project is very important. The thought that struck me at the end of this project is how thankful I am of the opportunity as a student to try and fail. The work has been varied, consisting of making figures, preparing for workshops, picking out relevant targets for subjects, and much more – all of this to gather information. In the end I feel like I have been included and given insight in all parts of the project. And the more I learn, the more my eyes open.
Short bio: My name is Kristine Hovland Holm. I hold a trade certificate as a skilled aquaculture technician, and I am currently a biology student at UiB. This semester I have had the pleasure of doing a BIO299 course on the SDG Wizard pilot project. The team working on this project consist of Dag Finne (VIS), Karin Berentsen (ARCT) and my supervisor Dorothy J. Dankel (UiB). In addition, we worked closely with Nils Aadland and Maria Schütz Fløisand from Salmon Group (https://salmongroup.no).