The 6th World Nutrition Forum ended two full days of stimulating sessions with plenty of food-for-thought on issues of sustain:ability across a range of topics—from the animal sciences to management, economics and philosophy.
Jorgen Randers, author of the famed “Limits to Growth” model in 1972, opened the Forum on 16 October with his latest views on the state of world affairs as detailed in his 2012 publication “2052-A global forecast for the next forty years”.
Describing himself as a “depressed man with a smiling face”, Randers, a professor at the Norwegian Business School, predicted a world heading in the direction of declining population and GDP growth, a shrinking global middle class, widening rich-poor gap, and potential climate catastrophe. He stated that “dramatic change is needed if we want to move in the direction of sustainability”.
To circumvent this outcome, Marty Matlock of the University of Akansas stressed: “"If we want to preserve biodiversity and other land-based ecosystems, we must freeze the footprint of agriculture.” He added that sustain:ability should be about continuous improvement and building resilience in a system through key performance indicators or KPIs.
Managing complexity was the theme of the opening address on 17 October. In a thought-provoking presentation citing varied literature on organisational complexity, BIOMIN founder Erich Erber shared how organisations could master this trend by fostering a culture of empowerment and trust, leading by KPIs, and creating an environment where honest feedback is encouraged and heeded.
In the species break-out sessions, speakers from each of the four livestock sectors shared how the use of technology, more efficient feed formulation, healthy profits and environmental issues determined the future sustain:ability of animal production. The mycotoxins session chaired by Gerd Schatzmayr saw some of the top researchers in mycotoxins research presenting topics on different mycotoxin determination methods, effects of mycotoxins on gut integrity and the immune system, and new insights on the trichothecene deoxynivalenol or DON.
Rounding up the theme of sustain:ability was Tim Jones of Future Agenda, UK who pointed to education, especially of females in developing countries, as the key to unlocking the potential of the planet. Echoing the importance of education, Jason Clay of the WWF stressed that “it’s not about what to think but how to think”. Such creative knowledge will be necessary for sustainable initiatives and reclaiming back the carrying capacity resource base of the planet, he stressed.