• 8 July 2016

Food systems modelling for the future: facilitating new research partnerships and projects

Workshop participants discuss ideas Photo by Roger Sykes

Workshop participants discuss ideas. Photo by Roger Sykes

From 18 – 21 July, the ECI’s food research group brought together 56 participants from 11 countries around the world and a wide range of backgrounds to participate in its workshop, 'Modelling food systems for resilient and sustainable nutrition and health on a changing planet'.

Sir John Beddington (Oxford Martin School) opened the week, with a talk on Food and Farming in the 21st Century. The following days involved intensive group and plenary work, providing the opportunity for workshop participants "to envision, to diverge, to imagine, but then... to arrive at the end of the workshop with concrete steps forward through research partnerships and projects."

Given the immense complexity of food systems and range of domains and stakeholders they touch, “food systems models, quantitative and qualitative, need to become more accessible", the workshop programme explained. Reflective of this outlook, a diverse and interdisciplinary range of participants were invited to develop ideas for future food systems modelling research projects. From application oriented partipants, the involvement of industry and government institutes, and academics; between them the group represented 36 distinct skillsets and over half that many disciplines.

In addition to setting the target for a gender balanced participation, this future-looking workshop set further targets and sourced sponsorship funding to help ensure that early career post-graduates, post-docs and junior researchers were involved in the workshop. Indeed, Steven Lord writes in the workshop programme, “today's early career researchers will become the instigators and users of innovations in modelling". Sponsors included the UK Global Food Security Programme, the US based Mathematics and Climate Research Network, and the Oxford Martin School’s Future of Food programme.

The objective of the four-day workshop was to initiate new tools, research communities and research agendas for the future. By the end of the meeting 25 projects had emerged, providing opportunities for new research and networks to evolve, as well as to strategically shape food modelling approaches and build food systems modelling infrastructure.

Photo: By Roger Sykes.

Sir John Beddington opened the workshop with his talk on Food and Farming in the 21st Century.

Photo: By Roger Sykes.

Workshop participants discuss ideas. Photo by Roger Sykes

Workshop participants discuss ideas Photo by Roger Sykes

Workshop participants discuss ideas. Photo by Roger Sykes

Photo: By Roger Sykes.

John Ingram talks with Hans Kaper. Photo by Roger Sykes

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