UCL Institute for Sustainable Resources


Global challenges to food security

02 July 2019, 5:30 pm–7:30 pm

watering crops

Event Information

Open to







Central House
14 Upper Woburn Place
United Kingdom

Healthy and fertile soils are the foundation of the food system. Soils provide the essential nutrients, water, oxygen and root support that crops need to grow. Despite this, human activities have contributed to and intensified land degradation across the world’s ecosystems and agricultural lands, in both developing and industrialised economies. Land degradation has become a global problem, it is estimated that a quarter of the global land area is degraded. Although there is a good understanding about the process, status and impacts of land degradation, less is known about how land degradation is going to interact with climate change–one of the greatest challenges of our time. Climate change is already harming people and threatening ecosystems around the globe. Future climate change is expected to affect food production and availability, exacerbating food security and increasing the pressure on economic, political and social systems around the world. The global food system will not only need to deal with the above pressures, but it will also need to provide food for an increasing number of people. It is estimated that global food production needs to increase by 70% by 2050 to satisfy the expected food and feed demand.

This seminar aims to provide a better understanding of these challenges. It will explore the complex interdependencies between climate change, land degradation and food security. The seminar will discuss food sustainability issues in the context of population growth and resource constraints. 

This seminar is part of the project “The impact of climate change and global food production” funded by The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment.

This seminar will be followed by a networking reception.

For accessibility information please follow this link: https://www.accessable.co.uk/venues/central-house

About the speakers 

Professor Chris Rapley CBE is Professor of Climate Science at University College London. He is a Fellow of St Edmund's College Cambridge, a member of the Academia Europaea, Chairman of the London Climate Change Partnership, and a member of the Science Museum, London’s Advisory Board. He has honorary DSc’s from the University of Bristol and the University of east Anglia, and an Honorary Professorship from Imperial College London.

Professor David Norse initially trained as an agricultural scientist and then worked on agricultural development problems in Africa and the Caribbean for 8 years before holding senior appointments with the UK Department of the Environment, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation in Rome, and finally at UCL as Pro-Provost for China. 

Peter Hazell trained as an agriculturalist in England before completing his Ph. D. in agricultural economics at Cornell University and a post-doctoral assignment at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. From 1972 to 2005 he held various research positions at the World Bank and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), including serving as director of the environment and production technology division (1992-2003) and the development strategy and governance division (2003-2005) at IFPRI. Returning to the UK in 2005, he became a Visiting Professor at the Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London and a Professorial Research Associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. 

Dr. Jason Neff is a Professor in the Environmental Studies program at CU Boulder where he also the founding director of the Sustainability Innovation Lab at Colorado (SILC); a centre created to accelerate innovative new approaches to sustainable development. Neff received his PhD in Biology from Stanford University (1999) and has been a professor at CU Boulder since 2003.   He is the author of over 100 scientific publications and an introductory environmental science textbook titled ‘A Changing Planet’.  After many years in academic research Neff is now is mostly focused on technology innovation and translation into real world impacts.  These efforts include programs developing mobile applications for land planning and agricultural development, cloud-based modelling tools for mobile agronomic decision support and working on new ways to connect research to market-oriented innovation for sustainability.