Food security is of critical concern globally and the development of food systems that can provide food of adequate quantity, and quality, in a sustainable way is now a research and policy priority.
It has been predicted that food production will need to increase by 70% by 2050 to supply a global population approaching nine billion people yet, despite increases in food production, poverty continues to be the biggest barrier to adequate nutrition in the developing world.
While at a local level sustainable approaches to food systems are being applied, there are barriers to these approaches being adopted more widely. In short there is a lack of knowledge and access to information, and also a lack of resources and technology. There is a need to create 'resilient' food systems worldwide, and that's why we have established what we are calling a "Grand Challenge Initiative" in collaboration with UK charity Garden Organic around Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security.
At Coventry University we have a strong track record for high-quality applied research in agroecology and food security, and agroecology is an approach we would advocate to ensure food security. However, the wider challenge for agriculture is how to feed the world's growing population while creating resilient, and sustainable, food systems on a global scale, which goes beyond simply advocating agroecology.
Each element of the research we are undertaking contributes to addressing the issue of "How can we create 'resilient' food systems worldwide?". To help to answer this question we are looking at, for example, food nutritional security and sustainable agriculture, access to the products of sustainable agriculture, the ecological and social resilience of agriculture to withstand and respond to natural and human-induced disasters, and the cultural and political dimensions of food production, food security and food sovereignty.
We are committed to finding solutions to this challenge through the creation of resilient food systems which, at a UK level, can potentially support and develop British farming and encourage sustainable food production. Internationally, and especially in developing countries (where our core activity is), we want to help combat climate change, support adaptation and low carbon growth, enhance the environment and biodiversity to improve the quality of life for people living in these regions.
We have now pooled all our expertise to launch a new Masters degree has to tackle the critical issues of food security and contribute to the development of food systems that will help countries feed their growing populations.
Our MSc in Food Security Management, which begins in September, will equip students with a comprehensive insight into sustainable food production and management, agricultural systems, climate change and the environment, and law and governance. The course is being run by experts in the University's Centre for Agroecology and Food Security, including the world-leading researchers behind the University's Grand Challenge Initiative programme in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security.
The new MSc will focus on training specialists in agroecology and food security which conforms to the internationalisation agenda - so it is equally appropriate for both developing and industrialised countries - and, given our focus on management, there is no other course in the UK that reflects this. Career opportunities in this field are expanding rapidly, and the programme is suitable for future professionals, managers, researchers and consultants in the fields of environmental management and protection, food production, and supply and agricultural development and sustainability.