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Can we make food security failsafe in the age of climate change?

Why the global food system – from agriculture to supermarket shelf – is no longer sustainable
As the world's population steadily rises and we combat the omnipresent threat of climate change, global food security is on borrowed time. But how can we achieve a sustainable diet?

While global food production is at a record level, elimination of hunger and malnutrition is beyond our reach. The United Nations predicts that the great divide between well-fed and hungry people is expected to widen as the world's population soars to 9.7 billion by 2050, and with over 821 million people already going hungry.

Climate change-related extreme weather events can reasonably be bracketed as one of the major reasons for the intensifying hunger and malnutrition crisis. But there are other key factors at play. 

The world has traditionally relied heavily on the 'business as usual model' of industrial food production and supermarket-oriented consumption. However, this system is not sustainable if we’re to secure a healthy future for people and the planet.

Professor Hilal Elver will interrogate the root causes of the current universal crisis, the major stumbling blocks to narrowing the hunger-overnutrition gulf and how we can achieve a sustainable diet that promotes both human and planetary health. Ronni Kahn will respond to Professor Elver’s talk, drawing on her work as Founder of OzHarvest, Australia’s leading food rescue charity.

The event will be chaired by Dr Alana Mann, one of the founders of FoodLab Sydney, which aims to increase access to healthy and affordable food by empowering individuals and communities in the creation of new food businesses.

This event was held on Wednesday 3 July, 2019 at the University of Sydney, and opened the 2019 Food Governance Conference, a collaboration between Sydney Law School and Charles Perkins Centre.

Further resources

The speakers

Hilal has been the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food since June 2014. She is an international law professor and Global Distinguished Fellow at the UCLA Law School Resnick Food Law and Policy Center; as well as the Co-director of the Climate Change, Human Security and Democracy project at the Orfalea Center, UC Santa Barbara, where she was a Distinguished Visiting Professor from 2002-12. She has also served the Turkish Government as the founding legal advisor of the Ministry of Environment, and as General Director of the Women Status at office of the Prime Minister. Until 2014 she was one of the members of the Turkish delegation at the UN Climate Change Convention (UNFCCC).

She has published three books – Peaceful Uses of International Rivers: The Euphrates and Tigris Basin (2002); Headscarf Controversy: Secularism and Freedom of Religion (2012) and Reimagining Climate Change (2016).

Ronni is the CEO and Founder of OzHarvest. Driven by a determination to find purpose in her life, Ronni realised that the simple act of rescuing good food and delivering it to people in need would quickly catch on, and in 2004 OzHarvest was born.

She is renowned for her boundless energy, infectious enthusiasm and not taking no for an answer! Her ability to inspire and motivate everyone she meets has seen OzHarvest grow from humble beginnings to become Australia’s leading food rescue organisation. Her journey in the fight against food waste became the feature of an independent film, Food Fighter, and in 2019 she was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia.

Mario CorrFRSE is a Chief Research Scientist at CSIRO Agriculture and Food. He has more than 20 years’ experience working on strategic agricultural research for development projects in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe. Before coming to Australia in 2013, he spent 12 years in Kenya, leading the Sustainable Livestock Futures and Climate Change programmes at the International Livestock Research Institute.

Mario participates in key global initiatives on agriculture and global change that shape the research agenda on food and nutrition security. He is a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (CorrFRSE), an Associate Fellow of Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, and an Honorary Professor of Agriculture and Food Innovation at the University of Queensland, Australia.

Alana is a Key Researcher in the University's Sydney Environment Institute and Chair of the Department of Media and Communications in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney. Through her work she aims to promote citizen engagement, participation, and collective action in food systems planning and governance.

She is Chief Investigator on the Australian Research Council (ARC) funded project FoodLab Sydney: Addressing food insecurity through participatory social enterprise (2018-2020) with partners including the City of Sydney, TAFE, and FoodLab Detroit. In 2018 Alana was a visiting scholar at both Harvard Law School and Cornell University.  Her new book Voice and Participation in Global Food Politics (2019) foregrounds the communicative dimensions of resistance by diverse rural and urban coalitions of food producers and eaters against the corporate capture of our foodways.

Lead image: Photo by Joao Marcelo Marques on Unsplash

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