A Sustainable Food Future 2017: Technology, resource use and resilience – Chatham House

It’s that time of the year again! Next week I will be attending the 2017 A Sustainable Food Future conference organised by one of the world’s top think tanks: Chatham House.

In this post I will explore the 2017 A Sustainable Food Future agenda because I want to find out what this year’s main focus is, in order to help you better prepare for the conference or give you context if you’ll be following the event on Twitter with the hashtag #CHFood.

So this year’s three main themes are technology, resource use and resilience and they’ll be discussed in six sessions. All themes are to some degree interwoven into each session but from reading the agenda it seems that each session will focus more on a specific theme.

The first session is ‘Food and geopolitics’ and it will mainly focus on the resilience aspect by, as an example, analysing tensions between major global food traders and looking at conflict as a source of food insecurity.

‘Producing more with less’, the second session, as the name suggests, is about resource use and looking at land, soil, water and energy constraints.

The third session is ‘Understanding risk and building resilience in the food system’. This session will focus on analysing macro factors that can increase vulnerability in the food system such as climate change and infrastructure.

The fourth session, ‘Changing diets and patterns of food consumption’, addresses my favourite food system question of all times:

  • To what extent can the price of food accurately reflect the externalities of its environmental impact and health costs?

Even though the answer to this question in most cases is a resounding NO! I love trying to understand why? How big is the gap between the current price and real price and what do we need to do so food prices do reflect the full costs of externalities.

I’m an avid participator but expect me to be raising my hand a bit more during this fourth session.

During ‘Innovation and technology in food production’, the fifth session, we’ll focus on technology and how can it help increase resilience using the resources that we already have. This is critical given that today, countries like Switzerland use resources equivalent to three Switzerlands. Something needs to change.

The final session ‘Changing trade agendas and food security’ we’ll look at the global trade trends: are we opening up or closing up and how will this impact food security?

That’s it for now! See you in exactly one week at Chatham House.

Many thanks to Chatham House’s Kamil Hussain, Head of Conferences, and Louisa Troughton, Conference Organiser.