State of the Planet

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Scientists’ Conference to Address Global Food Security

Rugera Migozi Rice Scheme
Harvest in Mali. Photo: Kyu-Young Lee

By Alison Rose

The globe faces a range of production, social and environmental challenges to feed the world’s growing population, estimated to reach nine billion by 2050. Agriculture and the global food systems must be innovated to meet unprecedented food demands in sustainable ways that improve livelihoods and minimize negative effects on the environment.

Global food security, broadly defined, touches on many different issues, from climate change, to nutrition, to value chains, to food waste. Columbia University is teaming up with Cornell University to co-host the second International Global Food Security Conference to bring together 500-plus scientists to investigate the behavioral, biophysical, economic, institutional, political, social and technological drivers of global food security. The conference will take place at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., from Oct. 11-14, 2015. The deadline for abstracts is May 8.

The topics, which have been identified by an expert scientific committee, not only reach across disciplines and scales of analysis, but also look beyond traditional academic disciplines to examine food security in practice.

Themes include:
•    Global and local analyses of food security and its drivers
•    Policies to improve local and global food security
•    Sustainable intensification of food production systems
•    Urbanization, food value chains, and the sustainable, secure sourcing of food
•    Competing demands and tradeoffs for land and water resources
•    Technological breakthroughs to help feed 9 billion
•    Reducing food loss and waste
•    Reducing risks to food production and distribution from climate change
•    Consumer behavior, nutritional security and food assistance programs
•    Business-science cooperation to advance food security
•    The agriculture-nutrition-health nexus

The conference, which is organized by Elsevier, will also feature a special symposium organized by the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation, a French-Spanish family foundation that is the exclusive sponsor of the event. At the conference, the foundation will also name its second Premio Daniel Carasso recipient, an international award that aims to encourage and support interdisciplinary research on the theme of sustainable food for long-term health.

“Feeding the world on a healthy diet while safeguarding the planet’s resources is a vital challenge,” says Marie-Stéphane Maradeix, director of the foundation. “This is why our foundation is supporting the transition towards sustainable food systems, both through operational projects in France and Spain, but also internationally through interdisciplinary research, academic conferences such as the GFS 2015, and advocacy through the International Panel of Experts on sustainable food systems, co-chaired by Olivier De Schutter and Olivia Yambi, and the Premio Daniel Carasso.”

For more information, including on abstract submission, visit the conference’s website.

Alison Rose is manager of research programs for the Agriculture and Food Security Center at The Earth Institute.

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