My name is George, a fourth year PhD student based at the University of Cambridge Crop Science Centre, and the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB). I’m interested in the diversity and abundance of symbiotic microorganisms in agricultural systems, quantified with a mixture of metagenomic and microscopic approaches. I have projects running from the national scale, to farm based trials, and have additional collaborative projects with The Food and Environment Research Agency (FERA), and Cambridge Computer Science.
I am co-chair of the Cambridge Food Security Forum (CFSF), an interdisciplinary network of PhD students and early career researchers at the University of Cambridge. CFSF aims to promote interdisciplinary discussion amongst researchers, community groups and all who are interested in achieving a sustainable food system. The Forum hosts and supports events around the theme of food security and sustainability, and I encourage anyone with a background or interest in food security to get in contact. This year, the CFSF is supporting the Venture Creation Weekend in Food Sustainability, hosted by Cambridge Judge Business School, in partnership with illumina.
A sustainable food system is a food system that delivers food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generations are not compromised. The concept encompasses the production, distribution, and consumption of food, and is dynamic, and specific to the country and context in question.
The core principals of food sustainability are to:
- Improve efficiency of resource use (land, water, fisheries, forests)
- Protect and enhance the sustainability of natural resources
- Protect and improve rural livelihoods, equity, women’s empowerment, and social wellbeing
- Enhance the resilience of people, communities, and ecosystems to perturbations such as climate change and natural disaster
- Ensure that governance of natural resources is responsible and effective
Reports suggest that in 2019, 690 million people were undernourished, approximately 60 million more than in 2014. Furthermore, the world is not on track to achieve the SDG 2.1 Zero Hunger target, with an additional 150 million people being classed as undernourished by 2030. This includes 433 million people in Africa and 330 million people in Asia. Concerningly, these figures do not consider the global impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which may add between 83 and 132 million people to the total number of undernourished in the world in 2020.
The Virtual Venture Creation Weekend in Food Sustainability, is a unique opportunity for individuals working across a range of disciplines to come together to work towards the common goal of improving food security and sustainability. By the end of the weekend, I hope that the wealth of knowledge of participants, mentors, and judges, will have formed ideas that may grow to have real world impact on food security and sustainability. One or more of the participating teams will be invited to interview for the Accelerate Cambridge incubator programme delivered by the Judge Business School Entrepreneurship Centre, an excellent platform to kickstart successful ideas.
Looking forward to meeting you over the weekend,
Don’t miss the opportunity to meet like-minded innovators and evolve your ideas into real ventures at our Venture Creation Weekend (VCW) 5-7 February 2021. The upcoming VCW is organised in partnership with Illumina and supported by Cambridge Food Security Forum. We also have a limited number of sponsored places for postdocs and final-year PhD students from selected University of Cambridge departments.