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20 May 2009
University research into sustainable food systems is having a major impact worldwide, with academics from the School of City and Regional Planning invited to speak at the United Nations.
Professor Kevin Morgan and Dr Roberta Sonnino recently presented their work at the United Nations annual Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) in New York where they spoke at the ‘Regions feeding cities’ session. Their presentation focused on how, in Africa as in Europe, there is an urgent need for cities to re-connect to their regional hinterlands in order to promote sustainable development and food security.
The session was chaired by Bob Lewis, the chief planner for New York state, and they were joined on the panel by George Matovu, the director of the Municipal Development Partnership in eastern and southern Africa.
Professor Morgan said: "The invitation to speak at the UN is the high point of our work on public food to date. Public food is an area which addresses some of the biggest issues currently facing society – sustainability, social justice and the environment – and politicians, academics and communities need to engage with it. As a result of this session in New York we have been invited to both Zimbabwe and Kenya to discuss the promotion of food security through stronger urban-rural linkages and hopefully encourage further international debate in this critical area"
At another session at the UN, Professor Morgan and Dr Sonnino were able to present findings from their book The School Food Revolution: Public Food and the Challenge of Sustainable Development.
Following launches in Cardiff and London last year, they also took the opportunity to launch the book internationally at New York’s Institute of Culinary Education. The event was jointly hosted by City Harvest, a charity that recycles unsold food for the hungry and homeless, and the New York City School Food office.
Dr Sonnino said: "It was an appropriate location for our international launch as New York City features in the book and in our most recent work as a world leader in meeting the challenges of urban poverty and hunger, lack of access to healthy food choices, and diet-related disease. "
Drawing on empirical data collected in urban and rural areas around the world, the book takes a critical look at school food reform, the creation of markets for local producers and new food education initiatives.
This perspective on the design and delivery of sustainable school food systems in an international context has drawn worldwide attention since its publication last year, with Professor Morgan and Dr Sonnino invited to present their research in 13 countries to date.
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