Contributed with Julia Dennis
This month, academics, researchers, government agencies, NGOs and corporations convened in the Netherlands to talk about the future of food. The question of how we will feed 9 billion people by 2050 was the major issue on the table, but much of the discussion also called for a careful focus on the imbalance occurring today between the nearly 2 billion undernourished and 1.5 billion over-nourished people on the planet.
The First International Conference on Global Food Security, hosted by the University of Wageningen, brought over 800 experts together for oral and poster presentations, in addition to key-note addresses and panel debates on all variety of topics pertaining to food security. The large turnout and eagerness of individuals in attendance demonstrated that the time is right to exchange knowledge from across disciplines. More to the point, with the evolution from the Millienium Development Goals to objectives of sustainable development set to take over in 2015, there is an urgent need for research to inform policy for future action.
One case study – solution, bringing pest management advice through plant clinics and a global knowledge bank, was presented by the CABI team in attendance. Knowledge Bank Global Director Shaun Hobbs shared a poster with participants on the Plantwise Knowledge Bank model, and impacts of this early warning and knowledge exchange resource. Meanwhile, CABI’s Julien Lamontagne-Godwin and Muhammad Faheem presented on one case study, the implementation of Plantwise in Afghanistan.
As Mark Kinver’s BBC article notes, “the organisers hope that the outcomes from the four-day event in Noordwijkerhout, South Holland, will help focus the scientific world’s contribution to the UN global policy system.” “A really key message from the conference for us is that we have got lots of estimates about needs of population growth etc, but at the moment we are so uncertain of the exact numbers – the uncertainty is really very high,” said conference co-chairman Ken Giller of at Wageningen University in the BBC article.
From discussion of over nutrition, food waste, and alternative food sources (i.e. insects and algae on the plate) to GMO implementation and food access equity, experts presented powerful data on the challenges and solutions for feeding 9 billion.
The next conference will be held in New York in 2015, post announcement of the Sustainable Development Goals, by which time attendees will see if the science has influenced global policy on the subject.
For those who did not make it but are interested in viewing the event, it will be webcast on November 4th and can be registered for here http://view6.workcast.net/register?cpak=7635490223742095