Universitas 21 welcomes G8 Statement on Food Security

17 July 2009
U21 to hold a Food Security Workshop with four-way discussions addressing issues with partners from the Global South, international aid agencies and NGOs and setting the agenda for U21 teaching and research for the next five years.

Universitas 21 (U21), the leading network for international higher education, will be holding an international workshop from 4 to 5 November 2009 at the University of Edinburgh to address issues of food security, a key topic of the G8’s recent meeting in Italy.

The aim of the U21 Food Security Workshop is to provide a platform for a meaningful and focused discussion between Food Security experts in the U21 network and those in U21’s key partner institutions in the Global South. The workshop will set the agenda for collaboration in teaching and research between U21 institutions and the Global South around Food Security themes for the next five years.

Most significantly, the workshop will allow U21’s developing world partner institutions to define the collaborative mechanisms which work best for them and which address their specific needs. By involving national and international aid agencies as well as NGOs, the Workshop will facilitate a four-way discussion which will lead to greater efficiency, faster outcomes and more focused collaboration. Dr Erik Lithander, Director of International Affairs at University College Dublin and a key figure in the organisation of the workshop commented, “Food Sustainability is an important area in which Universitas 21, as a truly international network, has the potential to make significant contributions. Reports from the G8 summit clearly show that this issue is being taken extremely serious by the world’s politicians and we are keen to direct our considerable collective academic power to working on this. We are especially pleased to enter into this with our colleagues in the Global South as it is vital that any discussions of this nature engage from the very beginning with those it will affect most.”

Following on from discussions begun at the network’s Annual Meeting in 2008, six pillars have been identified under the general Food Security rubric: Health, Water, Agriculture, Education, Governance and Gender. Some of these pillars (such as Health, Water) represent areas where there is already well-established collaborative activity across the U21 network, thus allowing for the synthesis of existing activity. Others are providing researchers with the opportunity to come together in the international context of the network to look at issues from a new perspective.

This model offers an integrated, holistic approach to Food Security rather than focusing on one discipline. It will allow for activity on a number of fronts, with a number of different combinations of partner institutions across the network.