Global Food Security, Climate Change, and Resilience

The Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Exeter have recently come together to create the Joint Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Resilience (ENSURE). ENSURE will bring together interdisciplinary groups of researchers from both institutions to tackle some of the major environmental and health challenges facing the world today. In recent weeks, the ENSURE International Steering Committee has confirmed financial support for a number of major projects between researchers at CUHK and Exeter.

The ENSURE International Steering Committee has now confirmed that one of the major projects supported under the initiative will be Global Food Security, Climate Change, and Resilience: An International Perspective. Exeter’s Principal Investigator on this Project will be Dr Catherine Caine, part of the Science, Culture, and the Law (SCuLE) Research Centre in the School of Law. This project will bring together leading academics from Exeter’s Centre for Circular Economy, its European Centre for Environment and Human Health and Exeter Energy with CUHK experts in Life Sciences, Healthcare, and Public Administration. The aim is to combine the latest scientific research alongside the expertise of academics in legal and public policy, with a view to developing practical solutions to major global challenges around food security and climate change.

The Exeter-CUHK team will focus on some of the key questions linked to climate change and food security. What are the current and potential future human health impacts of environmental degradation, including air and water pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, caused by agricultural intensification? At what cost are consumers willing to pay to alleviate negative environmental impacts resulting from agricultural production? Will there be different attitudes due to income and cultural background? What policy or legal options are available to alleviate climate change and minimize environmental impacts resulting from agricultural intensification and changes in consumer choices? Results of the project will inform the work of NGOs, governments and policymakers in considering how we tackle these issues.

ENSURE funding will provide for two post-doctoral researchers, one based in Hong Kong and one in Exeter, as well as supporting the development of a major survey to assess consumer reactions to potential policy changes in the food market. A series of workshops, conferences, and publications are planned for future years.

Prof Gavin Shaddick, co-Director of ENSURE, said of the project ‘ENSURE is committed to tackling some of the big challenges facing the world today. All of the projects that we have supported have the potential to have a major impact on how we think about sustainability and I believe we have a great opportunity to deliver practical solutions to some of the problems our society is facing. We are delighted to be able to support the Global Food Security, Climate Change, and Resilience project, precisely because of its interdisciplinary nature. Expertise from Exeter’s School of Law will be vital in looking at how we adapt policy and change the way that people think about these issues in future years.’

Photo courtesy of Catherine Caine