Feeding the world

Thu 27 November 2014 - 19:45 to 22:45

Feeding the world: insurmountable obstacles or a prospect of plenty?

19.45: live musicBasement 4

20.15: speakers prof. dr.ir. Rudy Rabbinge and prof. dr. Michiel Keyzer,

Free entrance

A food-secure world is a world in which all people have access to safe, nutritious and affordable food. Global food availability is higher than ever before, yet millions of people still live in fear of hunger and starvation. The United Nations (UN) estimates that about 842 million people – approximately one in eight – are undernourished today. And although significant progress has been made in many countries where hunger persistently declined  since the 1960s, undernourishment remains a significant problem in for instance sub-Saharan Africa and western Asia.

A large increase in population growth (9.6 billion people by 2050 according to UN estimates) emphasizes the challenge of feeding everyone even more, especially since the most extensive population growth is likely to occur in the least developed countries.

Many factors, often even interrelated, contribute to the complexity of food (in)security around the world today. The availability of arable land and water is of course important. In addition, factors like climate conditions, land use policies, trade conditions, the degree of urbanization, changing demographics, changing consumption patterns and volatility in commodity and food prices all have their impact.

In this session of Science Café, we would like to address the questions of whether we have the knowledge, tools and resources to finally refer food insecurity to the past.  What can scientific research contribute to food security? Which economic and cultural principles are of influence? What is the role of entrepreneurship? Which results are to be expected from governmental interventions? Can synergy be achieved?

Two renowned speakers, prof. dr. ir.Rudy Rabbinge and prof. dr. Michiel Keyzer, will assess and discuss  the world food situation, and will provide an outlook to the future.

Jelle de Gruyter will be moderator of this Science Café. Live music will be performed by Basement 4.

Professor Rabbinge, Emeritus Research Professor of Sustainable Development and Food Security at Wageningen UR and member of the High Level Panel of Experts Steering Committee of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, will provide examples of important scientific developments.  He will also address the responsibility to make better use of existing technologies and to create sustainable innovations so that everyone in the world has  access to ample and healthy food. Ideally, ecological and technological approaches are to  be combined in a systems approach in order to create a win-win situation in terms of food production capacity, environmental quality, as well as human and animal health. In addition, existing taboos, prejudices and obsolete rules that limit progress and development will be discussed.

Professor Keyzer, Emeritus Professor of Economics at VU University (Amsterdam),  former Director of the Centre  for World Food Studies (SOW-VU) and  Extraordinary Professor at the Centre for Chinese Agricultural Policy of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, will elaborate on  how scientific research contributed to the progress made in fighting hunger. In particular, the role of mathematical economics in this domain will be discussed.  Can its comprehensive models generate valuable predictions for the future - will the drop in malnutrition continue in the years to come? Is it imaginable that hunger will be eliminated all around the world?  Which intervention mechanisms were or will be succesful? What is to be expected from governmental interventions?  What can private sector initiatives achieve?

Live music will be performed by Basement 4. In an old and forgotten basement somewhere below this city, 4 people found each other in their shared passion for new jazz. Listen at Science Cafe to a new and original musical project. Their second appearance on stage and they already play their own pieces! They build with jazzy chords, melodic lines and subtle rhythms to construct their own jazzy compositions. 

Double Bass: Henk Hoogendoorn Sax: Christian Kamplicher Piano: Jelmer van Veen Drums: Paul van Asseldonk