Feeding the 10 billion: a challenge of our era

Written on 02 February 2018 by:
Olivier Usher
Olivier Usher

Agriculture and food production is one of the biggest challenges of our time.

Agriculture provides us with the food that keeps us alive. It has the power to make us healthy or sick. In low and middle income countries, it is often an engine of economic growth and improved livelihoods as well as hunger reduction.

The last half-century has seen a huge increase in food production, largely thanks to new agricultural practices – adoption of artificial fertilisers, pesticides and high-yield crops. Hunger has fallen even as the global population has grown.

But of the 7.5 billion people on this Earth, one in nine is still malnourished. On current trends, there will be another billion mouths to feed by 2025. Alongside this, as the Global South’s middle class expands, so does demand for meat and other proteins.

The solutions that have boosted food production in the past cannot be sustained forever: soil degradation, biodiversity loss and carbon emissions caused by intensified agriculture mean that the needs of people have been served at the expense of the needs of the planet as a whole.

That’s why at our Challenges of Our Era Summit (to be held in Milan on 6/7 March 2018) we are convening experts and stakeholders to discuss the challenges of global agriculture and nutrition.

The Feeding the 10 Billion stream at the summit will feature introductory talks from confirmed speakers Jessica Fanzo (Johns Hopkins University), Sara Roversi (director of Future Food Institute), André Briend (pediatric nutritionist and creator of Plumpy’Nut), Will Day (sustainability advisor to PwC) and Mark Lundy (International Center for Tropical Agriculture).

But the most important work will take place in four participative workshops. Every delegate will pick one of these topics, and spend time with fellow experts creating and designing new challenge initiatives.

The workshops are on:

  • Sustainable use of soil: How can we improve food production while preventing soil degradation and adverse environmental change?
  • New sources of nutrition: What unconventional food sources could we develop to contribute to global nutrition?
  • Improving smallholder outcomes: How can we better support the needs of smallholder farmers in the developing world?
  • Sustainable food systems: What can we do to close loops, cut post-harvest losses and reduce waste?

For these workshops, Nesta has combined its experience in running prizes in agriculture (such as the recent Nepal Data Driven Farming Prize) with content partners Future Food InstituteCGIAR and Deep Science Ventures.

The result should be stimulating discussion – but more than just a talking shop, the summit will be a concrete step towards creating new challenge initiatives that change lives for the better in the developing world.

If you are interested in participating – perhaps you are a food entrepreneur, a chef or writer; a farmer, manufacturer or researcher, register your interest to attend or check out our page with more info.

 

Register your interest