Global leaders in food, agriculture, trade and nutrition gathered in Hong Kong on 27 September for The Economist’s regional summit on food security, “Feeding The World: Asia’s prospect of plenty”
The Summit, chaired by John Parker The Economist’s Globalisation Editor and author of the publication’s special report The 9-billion people question, brought together a diverse group of stakeholders from industry, government, academia and NGO for a rigorous discussion on the critical issue of food security in Asia.
FIA Executive Director Bev Postma, a member of the Summit’s Advisory Board, joined a multi-sectoral line up of speakers and panellists that included representatives from the UN World Food Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), prominent food companies such as PepsiCo and Cargill and notable political commentators such as the former Australia Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.
Ms Postma described the event as an excellent opportunity to share views and opinions on the critical issue of food security.
“It was valuable to hear global insights on the scale and nature of the food security challenge in Asia and to debate solutions and best practice in the specific context of agriculture, trade and nutrition,” She said.
“The region has a large and fast-growing number of mouths to feed – China and India already make up a third of the global population and with numbers across Asia set to rise, demand for food will continue to increase and put pressure on supply.
“While this does provide challenges, it also presents the region with significant opportunities to collaborate and develop innovative new solutions,” she said.
During the summit PepsiCo President, Asia-Pacific Umran Beba, highlighted the need for the industry and Government to work together. She indicated that overly-complex regulation and a lack of harmonisation was a barrier to innovation that needed to be addressed.
“Innovation and public-private collaboration is vital. The industry is utilising its resources and expertise to help raise standards and improve systems to ensure a safe food supply. This focus needs to be complimented with fair, transparent and harmonised policies that promote trade and the development of new innovative products, processes and practices,” said Ms Beba.
Ms Postma congratulated The Economist for bringing together such a valuable mix of experts and agreed with other speakers that, due to the complexity of the food security challenge, there is a need for a multi-sector and multi-stakeholder approach.
“From the consistency of messages emerging from this Summit, it is clear that no one is underestimating the global food security challenge and that visionary solutions will need to be developed at local, regional and global levels,” she said.
“The food industry has a valuable part to play in this dialogue and it is vital to ensure that multi-stakeholder forums are designed at all levels to ensure that expertise and knowledge can be leveraged throughout the value chain and that companies are empowered to bring their collective potential to helping to solve this complex challenge.”