On April 27th I had the pleasure of attending the 2nd Annual Oxford Global Food Security Conference. Organized by the Oxford Global Food Security Forum, which is a student-led group interested in bringing together research on food security from across all disciplines and sponsored by the Oxford Martin Program on the Future of Food and St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, the conference brought together a small, dedicated group of researchers that lit up the room.
I spoke in Session 2 on Food Politics & Policies where my co-presenters where Rebecca Farnum (from the University of East Anglia) and Justa Hopma (from the University of Wales at Aberyswyth). They both gave extremely enlightening presentations on the state of food security in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA Region), referring to linkages to events such as the Arab Spring, food uprisings and how the volatility of these regions in term of food security is affected by both internal and external factors. Our session was moderated by Joost Vervoort, the Scenarios Officer with the CGIAR`s CCAFS (Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security) Programme, at the Environmental Change Institute, the University of Oxford.
Through the Q&A session that came immediately after our presentations ended, we touched a few other subjects, one of the most sensitive being the right to food and the discrimination against minorities in getting access to food in certain parts of the world. While there has been some progress made through the Voluntary Guidelines on the Right to Food and through a “small steps policy” of both the FAO HLPE on Food Security and of the FAO World Committee on Food Security (CFS), if you watch recent events, you can see that there are still part of the world where minorities have poor access to food, income, education and depend on the majority to give this on discretionary rules (see the Uighurs in China, the Indian and Chinese minorities in Malaysia etc.).
My presentation was on “Governing food security globally” as you can see in the Slideshare show below.
It is based on a research started a year ago with the support of Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech and it explores the possibility of ending world hunger by having a global integrated approach on all national, regional and global policies, programmes and projects that deal with food security, agriculture and related issues.
I started this research very enthusiastic hoping to change the world, but knowing that being a project on food security and public policies it will probably be stuffed in a drawer after its completion and it will never see the light of day. Not because it`s not important, but because “it`s not cool enough” for science magazines, social media or even other researchers.
Well, I was proven wrong on April 27th. My presentation triggered a lot of ..”what?!?” and “look at what this guy is saying?”, meaning that I made an impression. Some people there said that there is no way in h.ll that such a Global Agricultural Policy could ever work, some said that is something worth considering, even if we think about bringing together all solutions offered so far as “those that will feed 9 billion by 2050“.
Speaking with a diverse audience comprised of students of all levels, academia, private sector representatives, I had the opportunity to see that innovative ideas can spark up a storm that can change, well, pretty much everything…including the world.