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Geoff Lye
Insights 12 Dec 2007

Food for thought (COP 13)

By Geoff Lye

I am just back from breakfast, having spotted (Professor) Norman Myers across the room. He is a co-Fellow of Green College, Oxford and an adviser to Sustainable Forestry Management Ltd whose ambitious Mission Statement is to ‘establish the world’s leading company in ethical and sustainable land use incorporating emerging environmental markets’. He will elaborate further when we meet again for dinner tomorrow.

The breakfast menu here looks as though it has been developed for people like me whose body clocks could be calling for breakfast in the evening and dinner in the morning. Even so, the sight of very rare roast beef being carved in thick slices for eager guests at 7 am is a bit of an appetite killer.

The food and Oxford connections reminded me that I have not yet mentioned a meeting I went to shortly after arriving which focused on climate change and food security as a development issue. ECI’s Diana Liverman gave an overview presentation of the work her team has undertaken as part of an international coalition for the GECAFS project (Global Environmental Change and Food Systems). It took a trip to Bali to learn of the work of colleagues a few yards away in Oxford. GECAFS’ focus has been a on ‘food systems’ approach which ‘allows for the identification of a whole new range of possible interventions and their consequences, which are not apparent when only agricultural production is considered’. Having spent my early career in the food industry, I was surprised that I had not spotted the need to look at the full supply chain in a more holistic way to make sense of issues like food miles and the balance of climate impacts between production, processing and distribution.

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