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Bergen Summer Research School

BSRS 2013 Keynote Speakers

    • Thomas Winfried Menko Pogge, Director, Global Justice Program, Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs, Yale University, USA

    Tuesday 18.06. 10:00 Law Faculty – Dragefjellet – Auditorium 2 

        The Hunger Games

        Since the 1996 World Food Summit, the world has been committed to halving world hunger by 2015. But the specification of this promise has changed from the Summit version to the Millennium Declaration to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). These revisions have dramatically diluted the promise, raising the number of hungry people deemed acceptable in 2015 by 55 percent. In a final push, in 2012 (year 22 of the 25-year MDG exercise) the FAO revised its methodology for counting the hungry with the effect of raising the 1990 number of hungry people by 157 million and lowering the 2010 number by 57 million. This switch harmonized the hunger numbers with the World Bank's rosy poverty trend line and enabled the FAO to proclaim: "The Millennium Development Goal 1 hunger target, halving the proportion of hungry people in developing countries by 2015, is still within reach."  As new development goals are about to be formulated, we must urgently learn the lessons from the expiring ones which have brought mainly cosmetic efforts and cosmetic progress. The hungry of the world are not able to contest the official portrayals of their problem.

         

        • Shenggen Fan, Director General, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Washington DC, USA

        Tuesday 18.06. 18:00 Law Faculty – Dragefjellet – Auditorium 2 

        Leveraging Agriculture and Food for Nutrition and Health Outcomes (Click to watch the lecture)

        Today, the world food system remains vulnerable. Global hunger and malnutrition persist at unacceptably high levels, as nearly 870 million individuals remain undernourished and more than 2 billion suffer from micronutrient deficiencies, according to figures from the United Nations. Obesity now increasingly coexists alongside hunger and malnutrition as well, as globally more than 1 billion individuals are overweight and 300 million are obese. Agriculture- related health risks, such as avian influenza, are also a growing concern, accounting for adverse health effects in billions of people each year. Hunger, malnutrition, and agriculture-related health risks threaten the ability of many developing countries to improve nutrition and health outcomes. As a supplier of food and essential nutrients, a source of income and employment, and an engine for growth, the global agricultural and food system must be leveraged for better nutrition and health. A nexus approach must be pursued to do this.

        This presentation will give an overview of global food insecurity, malnutrition, and agriculture-related health risks. Key linkages between agriculture, nutrition, and health will be presented. Actions needed to leverage agriculture for nutrition and health outcomes through a nexus approach will be discussed, including: promoting nutrition-sensitive value chains, such as  through biofortification and crop diversification to enhance dietary quality; reducing health risks along the entire value chain through public information campaigns on agriculture-related disease transmission; and developing strong regulatory and monitoring frameworks for food safety.

         

        • Kjersti Fløttum, Professor, Department of Foreign Languages, University of Bergen

        Wednesday 19.06. 08:30 Law Faculty – Dragefjellet – Auditorium 2 

        Communicating 'wicked problems' at the interface between science and politics: the example of climate change (Click to watch the lecture)

        For several decades, the natural sciences have documented causes and effects of climate change, with all its complexity and inherent uncertainty. This global challenge is one of the most pressing issues facing humanity today. However, the current global debate reveals some discrepancies between the claims and evidence presented by climate sciences and the ‘stories’ circulating in the media, among politicians and ordinary citizens. While the majority now firmly believes that climate change to a large extent is anthropogenic and that it is our moral obligation to current and future generations to do something about it, some are still dismissive of the issue and equally firm in their belief that any change has natural causes and that nothing can or ought to be done. Why are there so many different opinions about and attitudes towards climate change? Climate change seems to have moved from being predominantly a physical phenomenon to being simultaneously social, political, ethical and cultural. Human values and belief systems have a clear influence on human responses and lead to different attitudes and preferences for courses of action or inaction. Research has shown that the meaning that people ascribe to climate change is closely related to how climate change is portrayed in the communication. In this, language plays a crucial role.

        With this as a backdrop, I will present and discuss different linguistic and discursive features frequently used in text and talk about climate change. The aim of such analyses is to contribute to a fuller understanding of the multifaceted climate change debate, where multiple actors and voices are constructing a variety of agendas, according to different backgrounds, world views, interests and values. Examples will be taken from scientific, political and media discourse.

         

        • A. Atiq Rahman, Director, Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies, Bangladesh

        Wednesday 19.06. – 10:00 Law Faculty – Dragefjellet – Auditorium 2 

        Interlinkages Between Food Security, Climate Change And Sustainable Development (Click to watch the lecture)

        The advent of twenty first century was preceded by the emergence of the concept of sustainable development. The impacts of climate change are being evident in different parts of the world and in different ecosystems where the need for consideration of sustainable development concepts has become an imperative. The poor of the world will be paying the heaviest price through the experience of extreme events induced by climate change.

        Food Security will be one of the sectors that will face particular stress. The presentation will discuss food production, food availability, food access, food security and also nutritional security. In the context of intensifying climate impacts and in the sustainable development framework, significant amount of work has been done on Bangladesh. Bangladesh will be treated as a case study to demonstrate the interlinkages of the three connected issues of food security, climate change and sustainable development.

         

            • David Blandford, Professor, Agricultural and Environmental Economics, Penn State University, USA

            Thursday 20.06. 10:00 Law Faculty – Dragefjellet – Auditorium 2 

              Challenges and policy options for balancing competing demands on agriculture

              World agriculture faces major challenges. The prospect of continued growth in the demand for food will exert major pressure on the agricultural sector. Agriculture is a major user of natural resources, particularly land, water and energy. The need to expand production to meet the growing demand for food will generate increased pressure on these resources. Climate change will also have major implications for agriculture, both because its activities are so dependent on climate, but also because the sector is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions. Adaptation to climate change may pose a major challenge. In many developing countries the sector is a major source of employment, but the trend is towards a declining economic role for agriculture as people migrate from rural areas to the cities to work in other sectors. It will be difficult to sustain viable local economies in many rural areas. Finding a balance between the need to increase productivity in agriculture, enhance its contribution to environmental quality, and strengthen its contribution to rural economies will be extremely challenging.

              In this lecture I shall outline key issues that we face in trying to balance competing objectives for agriculture and their implications for agricultural policies. The aim is identify the menu of possible policy choices and the extent to which these are mutually supportive or conflicting in terms of the economic, social and environmental roles that we expect agriculture to perform in the future.

               

              Friday 21.06. 11:00 – 13:00 – Bergen Chamber of Commerce and Industry 

              Rambunctious Garden Earth

              The more we learn about the extent to which even seemingly 'pristine' ecosystems have been influenced by humans and the more we understand the transformative nature of contemporary change, from climate change to global agriculture and aquaculture, the clearer it is that environmentalism cannot be premised on putting things back the way they used to be. Environmentalism must break free of culturally determined baselines and orient itself around goals like diversity, services and beauty. This talk will sketch out how this might be done, including accepting and becoming conscious about our influence over Earth ecosystems, as well as letting some areas go wild to form 'novel ecosystems'--the wildernesses of the future.

               

              • Ambekar E. Eknath, Director General of NACA, Director for the Central Institute for Freshwater Aquaculture,  India

              Friday 21.06. – 16:00 – Law Faculty – Dragefjellet – Auditorium 2 

              Challenges and Opportunities to Sustain Aquaculture Production in the Asia – Pacific Region

              My presentation will begin with an overview of aquaculture production – Global and in the Asia – Pacific region – with emphasis on the unique characteristics of the Asian aquaculture system: diversity of species, diversity of farming systems, the present trends and most importantly the people and the small scale entrepreneurs who are responsible for the region’s impressive contribution to the food security, nutrition and livelihoods.

              The focus of discussions will be on the track record of aquaculture in Asia in terms of its responsiveness to a number of issues related to the “image” and sustainability of aquaculture including, productivity, environment, biodiversity, use of resources, food safety, balancing of socio-economic benefits, small-scale vis-à-vis large scale industrial aquaculture; and adoption of animal welfare measures. It will also focus on how the sector as a whole is expected to sustain in the next few decades against the backdrop of stagnating food fish production from capture fisheries, population growth and the targets established under the auspices of the Millennium Development Goals.

               

                • Julie Guthman, Professor, Division of Social Sciences, University of California, USA

                Monday 24.06. 10:00 Law Faculty – Dragefjellet – Auditorium 2 

                  Re-thinking environmental causes of obesity

                  The thesis that rising obesity owes to a built environment where cheap, fast, nutritionally inferior food is ubiquitous and physical activity opportunities are sparse has become quite prominent, especially in the United States among public health advocates, planners, geographers, and food activists. However, studies to test the thesis have generated inconclusive or marginal results, and the more robust findings may be based on spurious correlations. Part of the problem is methodological: researchers embed many assumptions in their models and derive causality from unexamined correlation. As such, they neglect the possibility that features of the built environment may be as much an effect of socio-spatial patterning as a cause. In addition, in embedding taken-for-granted assumptions about the causes of obesity, namely the energy balance model, these studies foreclose alternative explanations. In this talk, Guthman will explore some of the conceptual and empirical limitations of the obesogenic environment thesis. She will also report on emerging evidence that environmental toxins and certain food additives play a significant role in contemporary obesity, irrespective of caloric intake. She will conclude the talk by discussing some of the implications of these findings for food governance.

                   

                  • Livar Frøyland, Director of Research at the Norwegian National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (NIFES)

                  Tuesday 25.06. – 10:00 – Law Faculty – Dragefjellet – Auditorium 2  

                  Seafood and health – current status

                  A varied diet provides good nutritional status and forms the basis for good health. The authorities advise people to eat more seafood since this is a significant part of a varied diet, much like for example fruit and wholegrain products. Seafood contains unique combinations of nutrients, proteins, vitamins, minerals and omega-3 fatty acids, which are all important components of a healthy and proper diet. However, seafood also contains unwanted substances such as methyl mercury, dioxins, PCBs and other potentially harmful compounds. Some principles regarding risk-benefit evaluations on seafood as well some thoughts on future research on seafood consumption will be presented.

                   

                    Wednesday 26.06. 10:00 Law Faculty – Dragefjellet – Auditorium 2 

                      The importance of ecosystem services in long-term food security and the need for outcome based measure of sustainable agriculture (Click to watch the lecture)

                      Very little is more important to people than food. Not only do we need food to live, but food is also an important part of our culture.  Labels such as "all natural", "organic", "no GMO's", and "grown locally" are widely used to announce something about how our food is grown. But missing are credible on-the ground outcome-based field measurements that can point us towards a truly sustainable food production system.  I will outline some contentious issues surrounding the definition of sustainable agriculture, and use an ecosystem services framework to suggest a pragmatic solution.  Only if we have good measures of sustainability can we use science to improve agriculture in a way that both deliver food security and a healthy planet.

                       

                        • Serge M. Garcia, Director (retired), FAO Fisheries Management Division, Belgium

                        Thursday 27.06. 10:00 Law Faculty – Dragefjellet – Auditorium 2

                          The role of fisheries in food security

                          Fisheries contribute both qualitatively and quantitatively to global and local food security. Paradoxically, fisherfolk communities are both important contributors to food security and vulnerable to food insecurity. Overfishing threatens food security but there are also trade-offs between stocks rebuilding (putting food resources aside) and food security (using food sources).  Modern proposals for fisheries reform and environmental rebuilding present a tensed trade-off between conservation and food security, in the short term and perhaps also in the longer term. The so called "win-win" solutions are rare and usually miss (or hide) one important dimension of the problem. Hard-nosed decisions are therefore needed. Without more integrated governance, it is likely that both goals, food security and conservation will be missed.