"Wedges against Global Hunger in 2050"
For more than a decade, food policy experts have warned global food production must nearly double to adequately feed 2050’s projected population of 9 to 10 billion. The assumptions of the warning extrapolate status quo dynamics: e.g., stable population growth rate, ca. 35% of food wasted, and increasing per-capita meat consumption.
Thus, the situation is more complex than a simple demographic model with a potentially unsustainable solution. More recently, analyses of the world's agri-food systems suggest a more realistic and sustainable solution might be obtained through multidisciplinary coordinated interventions, that is, a "wedge" approach.
Clearly, the assumptions and narrative must be reframed. Diverse participants of the world’s agri-food systems, including farmers, researchers and decision-makers, need to come together to accurately define long-term challenges and direct how to assemble the various solutions to create a sustainable food system that addresses humanity’s food needs.
To that end, the "Wedges against Global Hunger in 2050" Conference brought together speakers and other participants from academics, NGOs, government, farming and other industry representing not only agricultural and natural sciences but also humanities, engineering, policy, and social sciences. Speakers both deconstructed the issue and examined the broad array of potential diverse solutions, which, if properly aligned, should be superior to a single panacea. After a day and a half of presentations, breakout workshops were devoted to crafting one or more realistic and sustainable solutions. The results were presented and discussed in the final plenary session to identify actionable tasks. The conference was synthesized in the closing keynote address.
To our knowledge, this conference is the first of its kind. The major product we anticipate from this effort is a new view of the crisis that discards the current view that indirectly pits population against sustainability. We anticipate a multidimensional set of integrated approaches to stimulate more convergent efforts to achieve global food security while modifying agri-food systems to act as agents to improve global environmental sustainability.
Wedges Interactive activities
The “Wedges Against Global Hunger in 2050” conference was structured to generate scholarly discourse through interactive engagement. To increase active audience participation and foster an ongoing two-way dialogue, we 1) integrated real-time polls into the conference content through the Poll Everywhere platform, 2) live streamed the talks and polls via social media (Twitter and Facebook), 3) included an interactive real time art project to visualize concepts from the talks and the breakout sessions, 4) produced short podcast interviews, and 5) included breakout sessions.
With UCR as a locus for positive change, the outcome from this conference set a solid foundation for research and educational outreach on food security and sustainability for years to come.
Food systems are driven by the decisions people make, and those decisions can only be made properly when people are well-informed and open minded.