- University World News
Universities’ key role in the future of global food systems (Global)
African academics say that partnerships and collective action across different sectors, including higher education and research, are needed to actualise the resolutions agreed upon at the United Nations Food Systems Summit held on 23 September in New York. “The common message and commitment to global partnership for collective action, and the urgency to address the climate change challenge, as well as other environmental hazards, resonates well with the commitments that emerged from several national and regional dialogues, including those facilitated by RUFORUM,” said Professor Adipala Ekwamu, executive secretary of the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM). The key issue, however, is the implementation of the agreed action points of the eight-month regional dialogues that preceded the summit, he said. For Africa, what is needed are efforts to revamp investments in various agriculture initiatives, and adequately invest in science, technology and innovation and in human capital development to elicit the necessary responses and change. “Africa must also engage more actively in harnessing digital technologies and its renewable energy resources. Above all, we will need to maintain focus on ensuring inclusivity in the different undertakings. Continued academia-science-policy interaction will help us leapfrog forward,” Ekwamu said. The UN event recognised the fact that food systems cannot thrive without all sectors working together as one; hence, the need to involve various sectors of government, and the need for interaction of “multiple scientific disciplines”, as well as traditional and indigenous knowledge. The summit also emphasised the need to scale up public and private financing for food production as well as science and research. According to Kay Muir-Leresche, retired professor of natural resource economics and member of the RUFORUM international advisory panel, the role of universities in the future of food systems “needs much greater emphasis – not as ivory towers but as the spigots that can play a central facilitating role”.
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