World Food Research and Innovation Forum: a Vision for a permanent multi-stakeholder platform to promote partnership and cooperation in food safety, security and sustainability
19 august 2015
By Samuel B. Godefroy, Ph.D. – Professor, Food Risk Analysis and Food Systems, Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University Laval, Québec, QC. Canada
Access to clean water and clean air is a fundamental human right. Similarly, access to safe food is another necessity. Food safety is a condition for food availability and therefore for food security. Beyond the clear public health benefits expected as a result of compliance with food safety requirements, enhanced food safety is a prerequisite to consumer confidence and therefore to market access. Consumers around the world demand access to safe food and are increasingly aware of and sensitive to existing and emerging food safety risks.
Food and food products are also amongst the most traded commodities domestically and internationally. Safety and availability of food products is therefore a condition for and a demonstration of economic development and prosperity. Innovation in the food and agri-food sector, the development of trends aiming to enhance the sustainability of food production, to decrease its environmental impacts and its energy consumption requirements are also interrelated with food safety, food security, food quality and consumer concerns.
Having the 2015 Universal Exhibition currently hosted by Milan fully dedicated to the theme of Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life offers the unique opportunity for a platform of dialogue, exchange, brainstorming and potential leadership in identifying and analyzing trends and emerging issues, in sharing best practices and in promoting collaboration and partnership to address challenges in food safety, food security and sustainability and to support research and innovation in the food and agri-food sector.
The opportunity to hold a World Food Research and Innovation Forum scheduled for September 22-23, part of Milan Expo 2015 is visionary in many respects. This platform offers to convene national and international food policy makers, food regulators, international and development organizations, food business leaders, the Finance, Science, Research and Innovation community, as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). It offers to become a permanent platform for dialogue amongst leaders of the food sector to promote partnerships and collaboration. For a number of actions that address food safety, food security and sustainability, the mobilization of all sectors (public, private, academia, NGOs) and the creation of partnership are key to success. In following the principle that dialogue is a prerequisite to multi-sectorial action in response to multi-dimensional challenges, I am hopeful that this new Forum will:
- enable and stimulate strategic engagement, policy discussions and dialogue on challenges and opportunities of the food sector, with a particular focus on sharing best practices and lessons learnt from partnership initiatives in food safety, food security and sustainability, as well as food research and innovation
- promote leadership in the development of robust partnerships and concerted action in support of food safety, food security, sustainability and innovation.
Food is such an important determinant of human health and human prosperity that we owe it to ourselves to make this Forum a successful platform for cooperation and development of innovative solutions to challenges in food safety, food security and sustainability.