A booming global population expected to swell past 9 billion people by 2050 places urgent demand on the science and policy surrounding food security. The second International Conference on Global Food Security held Oct. 11-14 at Cornell University confronts the critical elements encompassing human welfare and environmental concerns connected with feeding billions more people in the coming decades.
Jointly run by Cornell and Columbia University, the conference focuses on identifying innovative methods arising from research in a wide range of disciplines, including agriculture, nutrition, environmental sciences, government policy and social sciences.
The conference features more than 650 participants from 61 countries, gathering academics, researchers, business leaders and government officials to find “common understanding about what it will take to tackle and succeed in the challenge of achieving global food security,” said Christopher Barrett, the Stephen B. and Janice G. Ashley Professor and the David J. Nolan Director of the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, during opening remarks Oct. 12 at Bailey Hall.
“Despite population growth, natural resource limits, climate change and other factors that make the task of ensuring the food security of all within our lifetimes a major challenge, we are united here by our common belief that scientific research can help us chart a sustainable path to universal food security,” Barrett said.
Held first in the Netherlands in 2013, the conferences address behavioral, biophysical, economic, institutional, political, social and technological drivers of current and future global food security.
The challenges related to food security are immense but must be addressed, said Kathryn J. Boor, the Ronald P. Lynch Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
“As we look to the future, the looming challenges associated with providing a better diet for more than 9 billion people without exacerbating demands on scarce and fragile land and water resources are daunting,” she said.
Boor said research institutions like Cornell are essential to help the world achieve and maintain food security. She noted that more Cornell graduates and faculty have won the World Food Prize – given to individuals who have advanced human development by improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world – than from any other university in the world.
“The challenges of improving global food security are deeply rooted both in the natural sciences and the need for environmentally sustainable productivity growth, and in the management and social sciences that help shape private and public policymaking,” she said.
As part of the conference, 22 early-career researchers and professionals from around the world are broadcasting findings, analysis and insight across social media. Members of the Junior Researcher Task Force will be tweeting and blogging throughout the conference using the hashtag #GFS2015. Follow their activity for updates on the conference throughout the week.
Matt Hayes is managing editor and social media officer for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.