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The UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are 17 goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all.

The SDGs provide a shared vision of the future, and a framework to guide  governments, industry, non-profit organisations and the entire global community in working together for a better world. MSC certification is used by countries and organisations as part of their commitments towards delivering SDG14 on Life Below Water.

Research presented at the 8th World Sustainability Forum in 2020, showed the MSC Program drives progress towards achieving five SDGs. Our work also helps efforts to strengthen food security (SDG2), promote sustainable economic growth (SDG8), promote sustainable consumption and production (SDG12), and strengthen global partnerships for sustainable development (SDG17).

Icons for five United Nations Sustainable Development Goals: Life Below Water, Zero Hunger, Decent Work, Responsible Consumption and Partnership for the goals

Conserve and sustainably use the oceans (SDG 14)

Our vision is of the world's oceans teeming with life and seafood supplies safeguarded forever. The MSC program is recognised by the UN as an important tool to achieve the goals of SDG 14. 

Committing to SDG 14 joins our efforts with the hundreds of others working to: 

  • end overfishing  
  • restore fish stocks 
  • protect ecosystems 
  • eliminate illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing

Read our voluntary commitment to ocean health from the UN Ocean Conference 2017

Read about seafood certification and the SDGs: linking ocean health with lives and plates

Food security and decent work (SDGs 2 and 8)

MSC certified fisheries aren’t just safeguarding the natural environment. They also contribute to global targets to end hunger and ensure sustainable economic growth.

Seafood provides a major source of protein to nearly 3 billion people. Maintaining or rebuilding fish stocks is essential to ensure the long-term availability of food.

Many fishers have experienced economic benefits, including access to preferred markets and price premiums, as a result of MSC certification. In the South African hake fishery, certification underpins up to 12,000 jobs.

Promote sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12)

By choosing products with the MSC blue label, consumers are supporting well-managed, sustainable fisheries. This encourages retailers to stock sustainably-sourced seafood and more fisheries to improve and become certified.

Everyone can contribute to the SDGS. By choosing products with the MSC blue label you are supporting well-managed, sustainable fisheries.

Strengthen partnerships for sustainable development (SDG 17)

The MSC and other credible standard setters have a key role to play in helping companies and governments to achieve the SDGs. We can provide best practice guidance for ‘what good looks like’ in a specific industry and create roadmaps for action.

The MSC program brings together businesses, NGOs and governments to develop and implement science-based sustainability principles, criteria and measurements of progress. We are proud to be globally recognised for our multi-stakeholder approach that helps turn potential conflict into positive collaboration.

In 2017, the MSC convened 27 leading seafood businesses - Leaders for a Living Ocean - to commit to sourcing and providing sustainable seafood. 

Read SDGs mean business: How credible standards can help companies deliver the 2030 agenda, a report from WWF and ISEAL. 

“With marine issues crossing national borders and jurisdictions, international sustainability standards are a vital tool to conserve and sustainably manage the vast oceans.”


SDGs mean business: How credible standards can help companies deliver the 2030 Agenda

Providing data to the United Nations

Data from the MSC is used by the UN Environment Programme and other intergovernmental organisations to track progress towards international goals to end overfishing and protect biodiversity.

In 2010, the international community set 20 targets under the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity. These Aichi Targets map global efforts to conserve biodiversity around the world.

As an official biodiversity indicator partner, the MSC supplies data to help assess progress towards Aichi Targets six and four.

MSC certified fisheries leading the way in delivering SDGs

MSC certified fisheries leading the way in delivering SDGs

Read our 2020 update on how MSC certified fisheries are delivering.

UN Decade of Ocean Science

UN Decade of Ocean Science

The MSC actively supports the UN’s Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and its drive to increase collection and analysis of ocean data between 2021 and 2030.

Biodiversity and fishing

Biodiversity and fishing

Sustainably managing our natural resources will mean that our oceans remain productive, resilient and adaptable to environmental changes.

Ocean Stewardship Fund

Ocean Stewardship Fund

The Ocean Stewardship Fund aims to increase the number of sustainable fisheries worldwide. We are accelerating progress by funding innovative research and supporting fisheries at all stages on the path to sustainability.