Experts agree that what the world eats and the way we produce food is unsustainable and has to change, particularly if we are to meet climate and health goals and protect the food supply from the effects of environmental breakdown. A major player in this issue and the leading voice at the global level is the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which frames the thinking on food and agriculture globally and influences policy on almost any issue to do with what’s on our plate. The agency is electing its new leader at the end of June. The appointment comes at a crucial time for determining the future of the global food system, and what the agency focuses on going forward and to what extent it can deliver will have a major influence on a range of hot-button issues in the supply of food.
Professor Benton came to the SMC to explain what the issues are and why it matters who is chosen to be the next head of the FAO.
About Tim Benton
Professor Tim Benton is Dean of Strategic Research Initiatives at the University of Leeds and Distinguished Visiting Fellow in the Energy, Environment and Resources Department at Chatham House, where he will become the department’s Director of Research from 1 July 2019. From 2011 to 2016 he was the ‘champion’ of the UK’s Global Food Security (GFS) programme, a multi-agency partnership of the UK’s public bodies (government departments, devolved governments and research councils) with an interest in the challenges around food. The key role of GFS was to undertake systemic analysis and horizon scanning, in order to identify priorities to mitigate the challenges of providing sufficient, sustainable and nutritious diets for all. He has published over 150 academic papers, most tackling the core themes of agriculture’s environmental impact and more generally how systems respond to environmental change. He is a frequent contributor to events around the world.