Global expert to explore post-COVID food systems

COVID-19 has ravaged global health and locked down countries around the world, exposing the fragile systems that connect people to food.

Global food systems expert Johan Swinnen, Ph.D. ’92, will explore the lessons learned and the steps needed to prevent a hunger catastrophe in the first talk of a new speaker series dedicated to confronting the world’s most urgent and complex challenges.

The talk, “Transforming Global Food Systems After COVID-19,” will be held in 401 Warren Hall on April 11, from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m., and streamed to a global audience. Cornell community members are welcome to attend in person, and can register here.

The Global Development Distinguished Speaker Series aims to bring leading minds to campus to explore topics across the Department of Global Development’s signature strengths: well-being and inclusion; environmental sustainability; and food and nutritional security.

“Global Development is engaged at the nexus of the leading challenges faced by humanity,” said Ed Mabaya, research professor of global development and chair for the new series. “We are delighted to welcome Dr. Swinnen as our inaugural speaker and engage together on the critical and timely issues surrounding food security.”

Swinnen will explore ways in which e-commerce, technologies and value-chain integration can lead to more resilient food systems that are sustainable and inclusive of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Swinnen is director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute and global director of the CGIAR Systems Transformation Science Group. CGIAR is a global network of 15 research institutions dedicated to issues around food, land, and water systems. The network has more than 9,000 staff working in 89 countries, with annual research expenditures over $900 million.

In 2020, CGIAR launched its “One CGIAR” initiative, which strives to integrate research and operations across the 15 institutions. As a global director, Swinnen is tasked with forging multi-sectoral policies and strategies.

Swinnen, who earned his Ph.D. in applied economics and management, is a leading global researcher on agricultural and food policies, international development, political economy, institutional reforms, trade and global value chains. He previously served as a lead economist at the World Bank and economic adviser to the European Commission.

Matt Hayes is director for communications for Global Development in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

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Lindsey Knewstub