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Fifth McGill Conference on Global Food Security
Food Prices and Political Instability

October 16-18, 2012


Tuesday, October 16 at 17:00
Moyse Hall (Faculty of Arts)
McGill University
853 Sherbrooke St. West

Admission: $10.00

What goes up must come down - price volatility in the 21st century 

Dr. Jean Lebel
Vice-President, Programs and Partnership Branch, International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Ottawa


Wednesday, October 17 and Thursday, October 18
Salle Prince Arthur, New Residence Hall, McGill University
3625 Avenue du Parc

Admission: $375; Students $55 (with proof of student ID)

Wednesday, October 17

08:00 Registration opens
08:30 - 09:00

Special Keynote Address

Prabhu Pingali
Deputy Director of Agricultural Development
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation  

9:00 - 10:30

The challenge of feeding 9 billion people
World population is expected to grow to 9 billion people by the middle of the century, with the majority of the increase occurring in the developing economies of Asia and Africa. With poverty and hunger rates already very high in many developing countries, the challenge of feeding the world now and in the future will require constant increases in agricultural productivity without depleting the resource base. The speakers in this session offer different perspectives on the future of global agriculture and the means of achieving food security.

Session Chair: Anwar Naseem, McGill University

Marco Ferroni, Executive Director, Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture
Robert L. Paarlberg, Professor, Political Science, Wellesley College
Mitslal Kifleyesus-Matschien, CEO, Ecopia (Ecological Products of Ethiopia)


10:30 - 10:45 Health Break
10:45 - 12:15

Can High Food Prices and Volatility be Managed?
Price volatility in the last five years has been higher than in the previous two decades. As a result of market liberalization and new trade agreements, domestic prices in many countries are more closely connected to international prices. For some developing countries, liberalization has also meant a significant increase in food imports, thereby making international food price volatility of local socio-economic and political concern. Volatile food prices discourage investment in the agricultural sector due to increased financial risks. This session will examine whether some of the external factors and policies related to markets, trade, technology, and resources can be successfully managed both nationally and internationally to reduce food prices.

Session Chair: Paul Thomassin, and Kakali Mukhopadhyay McGill University 

Florence Rolle, Senior Liaison Officer, FAO
Marc F. Bellemare, Professor, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University
Evan Fraser, Professor, Department of Geography, College of Applied Human and Social Sciences, University of Guelph
Paul Hagerman, Director, Public Policy Program, Canadian Foodgrains Bank


12:15 - 13:30 Lunch
13:30 - 15:15

Politics and Food
With population growth and changing dietary patterns in many countries to higher protein intake, it is expected that 70 % more food will be needed between now and 2050 to satisfy the demand of a population of over 9 billion.  However, natural resources are limited. In addition, an increasingly unstable climate will blunt our ability to raise global food production. Rising temperatures will result in increased crop heat stress and lower yields; more rapid desiccation of soils and crops will lead to earlier crop mortality. Greater evaporation may cause more frequent large rainfall events and flooding of crop land.  Increasing temperatures are causing glacial melting which will reduce water available for irrigation in many important crop-growing areas of the world. The resulting elevated food insecurity could inflame frictions within and between nations leading to civil unrest. The session is nobly aimed at trying to avert political instability by presenting solutions to the challenges of climate change, water scarcity, and the use of dwindling land resources for the production of energy crops.

Session Co-Chairs: Donald Smith, McGill University and Alok Adholeya, Director, Biotechnology and Bioresources Division, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI), New Delhi

Etienne Hainzelin, Conseiller du Président directeur général du Cirad, Professeur invité à l’Université d’Ottawa
Zhanyi Gao, Engineer in Chief, China Institute of Water Resource and Hydropower Research, President of International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage
Eckart Woertz, Senior Research Fellow Associate, Barcelona Centre for International Affairs (CIDOB)


15:15 - 15:30 Health Break
15:30 - 17:00

Action against hunger: Student initiatives
Students are increasingly taking on the challenge of Global Food Security and are working both locally and in developing countries on agriculture, water, food and nutrition research projects.  From internships with nongovernmental organizations to graduate student research projects, these students are gaining valuable experience, expertise and understanding of the complexity of food security. They will share perspectives and stories of their work from around the world during this session.

Session Co-Chairs: Caroline Begg and Marilyn Scott, McGill University

Arlette Saint Ville, MSc Candidate, Natural Resource Sciences, McGill University
Ramesh Murugesan, Ph.D. candidate, Bioresource Engineering, McGill University
Verena Seufert, Ph.D. candidate, Geography, McGill University
Tracy McDonough and Nadia Browne, MSc candidates, School of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, McGill University

17:00  Networking, Poster Competition and Refreshments

 Thursday, October 18

08:00 Registration opens
08:30 -10:15

Social Dimensions of Food Security and Nutrition
Changing demographics and dietary aspirations that increase global demand for food affect the access of both rich and poor to nutritious diets. Directly addressing economic inequalities through conditional cash transfer programs to families living in extreme poverty has repercussions for nutrition, long-term food security and social stability. Cultural identity and socially-defined values related to equity, sustainability and health are potential mediators and motivators of human behaviors related to food/nutrition security. This session will explore the complex social dimensions that constrain polices and define opportunities for interventions.

Session Co-Chairs: Hugo Melgar-Quinonez and Tim Johns, McGill University

Mark Nord, Sociologist, Food Assistance Branch, Economic Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
Ricardo Aparicio, Deputy Director-General for Poverty Analysis, National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy, Mexico
Marie Chantal Messier, Senior Nutrition Specialist, The World Bank 


10:15 - 10:30 Health Break
10:30 - 12:15

Role of Societal Actors in Solving the Food Crisis
High food prices in the last five years spurred a momentum for action. Governments and institutions around the world are giving increasing priority to reducing hunger and making nutritional improvements. The major international development agencies and the donor community developed a high level response program to stimulate agricultural production in the developing countries. The response program took many forms including increased investments in the agricultural sector, research, technology transfer, and the development of country policy frameworks for transformation of the agri-food sector. In this session, representatives of government, the private sector, donor organizations, NGOs and development foundations will describe their roles, successes and challenges to improving long-term food security.

Session Co-Chairs: Humberto Monardes, McGill University and Mohamed Ait Kadi, President, General Council of Agricultural Development, Rabat, Morocco

Richard Doyle
,  Executive Director, Dairy Farmers of Canada, and President, International Dairy Federation
Bruce Moore, Founding Director, International Land Coalition
Viktor Dukhovniy
, Director, Scientific Information Center of Interstate, Coordination Water Commission of Central Asia (SIC ICWC)
Sergiy Zorya, Senior Economist in Agriculture and Rural Development Department (ARD), World Bank


12:15 Lunch and Plenary Wrap up