A Sustainable Food Future
Technology, resource use and resilience
The annual Chatham House Food conference will address the latest challenges to the food security and sustainability agenda while assessing new policies, practices, technologies being devised to create a more resilient and sustainable food system. It will gather together leading experts and stakeholders in nutrition, health, agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, food policy and sustainability.
Discussion topics will include:
Resource use - the interconnections between land and land-based resources and the challenge faced in balancing the multiple uses of land, water and energy.
Resilience of the food system – its vulnerability to disruptive hazards in supply chains and trade routes as well as threats from disease, conflict, and climatic shocks.
Diet and sustainability - changing trends in food consumption and what constitutes a healthy and sustainable diet appropriate for different cultural and environmental contexts.
Technological improvements and new innovations – the effects on food production and consumption patterns, and impacts on thesustainability, security, quality and affordability of food.
Agricultural and food-trade policies – assessing the likelihood and consequences of a rise in protectionist policies on a global scale and the redefining the UK’s agricultural and food-trade policies.
The Chatham House Rule
To enable as open a debate as possible, this conference will be held under the Chatham House Rule.
Monday 27 November
Session One | Food and geopolitics
This opening discussion will explore the latest developments in the food security and sustainability agenda and steps that have been taken by governments and international organisations to address the challenge of improving global food security since the last conference.
- Famine relief is being provided in South Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and Nigeria. Is conflict now the main factor in food insecurity today and how should the international community respond?
- How will the US trade frictions with China and Mexico affect agricultural production and exports?
- As the UK prepares to leave the EU what potential changes will there be to the structure and operations of the food system and trade?
- In countries reliant on imported food what lessons can be learnt about securing the resilience of food supply chains in the event of geopolitical tensions?
- The 2017 United Nations Report on World Food Security and Nutrition has indicated that the long-term declining trend in undernourishment seems to have come to a halt and may have reversed. In this context, what needs to be done to ensure the international community meets commitments to ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition worldwide by 2030?
Session Two | Producing more with less
Increasing competition for land and land-based resources from agriculture, urbanization, energy production, climate mitigation, and other emerging sources of demand pose challenges to food security and the long term sustainability of food production. This session will focus on the interconnections between resources and the challenges of balancing multiple land uses and ecosystem services.
- How will climate change affect the long term productive capacity of land, soil and ecological systems?
- How can water and water-related ecosystems be protected, managed and used sustainably?
- What effect can changes in energy use have on the sustainability of food production?
- How can existing farming and fishing practices be improved to help to increase productivity while protecting the environment?
- Could new cultivation methods decouple food production from land use at a meaningful scale?
Session Three | Understanding Risk and Building Resilience in the Food System
Many regions are increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change such as acute weather shocks and chronic changes in rainfall, temperature, and seasonal patterns. Disease epidemics, conflict and protracted crises further exacerbate the vulnerabilities. Supply chains and trade routes can also become vulnerable to a range of disruptive hazards. This session will look at the interaction between these risks and how they can be better understood and the effects mitigated.
- How is climate change affecting weather- related risk?
- How resilient is the system to geopolitical conflicts and protracted crises?
- What tools can help to predict disruptive scenarios?
- How do critical infrastructures and chokepoints cause vulnerabilities to food import-dependent countries and major food exporters?
- What cooperative action is needed on these issues at regional or global level?
Session Four | Changing Diets and Patterns of Food Consumption
Global dietary trends place more than a quarter of the world’s population at serious health risk from undernourishment, obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases. Patterns of food consumption need to change to improve global health and ensure a sustainable and equitable global food system. This panel will explore the impact of changing trends in food consumption and what constitutes a healthy and sustainable diet. It will also look at how production systems, policies and markets impact on diet and sustainability as well as the potential for innovative solutions to address these issues.
- Is it possible to establish a set of parameters for a healthy and sustainable diet which is universally applicable, achievable and appropriate for different cultural contexts?
- What are the main drivers of change in food consumption? What policies do governments and investors need to implement or amend to address negative dietary outcomes?
- To what extent can the price of food accurately reflect the externalities of its environmental impact and health costs?
- How might new technologies change the conception, composition and value of food, and how might public opinion react?
17:30 Close of day one and drinks reception
Tuesday 28 November
Session Five | Innovation and Technology in Food Production
To meet future demand in a sustainable way, traditional practices are being improved and new technologies adopted. This session will look at recent advances in agricultural technology and ask how traditional practices and disruptive technologies are helping find efficiencies, manage resources, and meet demand more sustainably.
- How are ‘on the farm’ input technologies such as pesticides, fertilizers, feed and seeds being developed to produce food sustainably?
- What benefits – and challenges – are likely to be brought by wider adoption of precision agriculture technologies? How are big data and machine learning disrupting the livestock, fisheries, and crop industries?
- How are supply chains being disrupted by developments in traceability, processing and distribution technologies?
- How can more traditional methods and best practices be augmented, shared and scaled up through information and communication technologies?
Session Six | Changing Trade Agendas and Food Security
This panel will assess the likelihood and consequences of a rise in protectionist policies affecting food systems on a global scale. It will also address the potential consequences of redefining the UK’s agricultural and food-trade policies, and will consider recent developments in US agricultural and trade policy.
- Will major food trading nations conduct cooperative trade through open markets or adopt more isolationist policies? How will this affect food, fisheries and agriculture?
- What implications may the reshaping of agricultural trade relationships under the Trump administration have for global food security, food prices, and the environment?
- How will the UK’s exit from the EU affect UK domestic food security and how might the future EU-UK food trade relationship evolve?
13:30 End of conference
© The Royal Institute of International Affairs 2017
Executive Secretary of the Permanent Interstates Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS)
Researcher and President of the BCFN Alumni Association
Global Sustainability Lead, Mars Food
Distinguished Visiting Fellow, Energy Environment and Resources, Chatham House
Head of the Agro-Food Trade and Markets Division, OECD
Dr Karen Cooper
Sustainable Nutrition Manager, Food Reform for Sustainability and Health
Chair Professor, Agriculture, Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations
Senior Vice President and Executive Director, Europe, Oceana
Executive Director, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)
Executive Director, Crop Trust
Technical Director, Food Animal Initiative (FAI), and founder member of Benchmark Holdings Plc
Special Adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change
Vice President of Global Credit Risk, Cargill
President & CEO, Ekagrata Inc
Chief Scientific Adviser, Food Standards Agency and Professor of Ecology in Biological Sciences, University of Southampton
Director, Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy (IATP) Europe
Chief Executive Officer, The Power of Nutrition
Senior Fisheries Analyst, Ocean Mind, Catapult Satellite Applications
Coordinator, Scaling Up Nutrition Movement
SVP, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Integrator, Danone
Nick von Westenholz
Director of EU Exit and International Trade, National Farmers' Union (NFU)
Pricing and booking information
Ways to book:
- Phone: Call Georgia Dalton on +44 (0)20 7314 2785
- Online: Click here to complete the online registration form
- Email/Post: Download a PDF registration form, complete and return to Clare Smyllie via email or post: Chatham House, 10 St. James Square, London, SW1Y 4LE
|Partners and major corporate members|
|Standard corporate members|
|NGOs and academics||£540|
|NGOs and academics||£595|
Your delegate pass includes:
- Conference attendance
- Lunch and refreshments
Travel and accommodation are not included. View a list of recommended hotels here.
If you are interested in becoming a sponsor for this event, please contact Adam Bowie on
+44 (0) 20 7957 5732
10 St James's Square
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7314 2785
Fax: +44 (0)20 7957 5710
If you wish to book the venue for your own event please phone +44 (0)20 7314 2764
The nearest tube station is Piccadilly Circus which is on the Piccadilly and the Bakerloo Underground lines. From Piccadilly follow Regent Street southwards towards Pall Mall and take the first road on the right called Jermyn Street. Duke of York Street is the second road on the left and leads to St James's Square. Chatham House is immediately on your right.
Although we cannot book accommodation for delegates, we have arranged a reduced rate at some nearby hotels, where you can book your own accommodation. Please inform the hotel that you will be attending a conference at Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs) to qualify for the Institute's reduced rate.
Please note all rates are subject to availability.
13 Half Moon Street
London - W1J 7BH
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7499 2964
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7499 1817
Classic Double without breakfast: £195 +VAT
The Cavendish London
81 Jermyn Street
London - SW1U 6JF
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7930 2111
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7839 2125
Classic Room without breakfast: £205 +VAT
The Stafford London
St James's Place
London - SW1A 1NJ
Tel: 020 7493 0111
Fax: 020 7493 7121
Classic Queen without breakfast: £247 +VAT
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f you are interested in becoming a media partner for this event, please contact
Amy Smith on +44 (0)20 7957 5755