COVID-19 has exacerbated efforts to improve food and nutrition security around the world, demonstrating our food systems are not prepared to withstand shocks. As research agendas pivot to COVID-19 response, recovery and resilience; our challenge is not to restore the old food systems but to transform them to do better for people and planet.
Aquatic foods must be part of this solution. They are highly regenerative and naturally rich in the micronutrients that humans need. Despite their importance, aquatic food systems are frequently overlooked in important policy and investment decisions due to the critical gaps in knowledge needed to address the complex challenges set out in the 2030 global sustainable development agenda, made now even more urgent by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This discussion forum, hosted by WorldFish, seeks to build a concerted, science-based approach to ensure aquatic foods are an integral part of the response and recovery to COVID-19 and the transformation of global food systems towards healthier and sustainable diets.
Professor Manuel Barange is the Director of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy and Resources Division at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Rome, Italy and also an Honorary Fellow at the Plymouth Marine Laboratory and an Honorary Professor at the College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, UK.
Until joining FAO in 2016 Prof Barange was Deputy Chief Executive and Director of Science of the Plymouth Marine Laboratory. From 2010-2013 he was also Chair of the Scientific Committee of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES. www.ices.dk), and from 1999-2010 was Director of the International Project Office of the IOC-SCOR-IGBP core project GLOBEC (Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics).
Manuel expertise includes physical/biological interactions, climate and anthropogenic impacts on marine ecosystems, fish ecology, behaviour and trophodynamics, and fisheries assessment and management. In recent years, he has focused his research on predicting the impacts of climate change on marine ecosystems, and on the interactions between climate and other anthropogenic impacts on marine ecosystem services. In his role at FAO he emphasizes the importance conservation and sustainable development to secure food, livelihoods and trade of marine goods and services.
Manuel was awarded the 2010 UNESCO-IOC Roger Revelle Medal for his accomplishments and contributions to ocean science. He is in the Strategic Advisory Board of IMR (Norway), and past member of the Science Advisory Boards of CEFAS (UK), KAUST Red Sea Centre (Saudi Arabia), NERC (UK) Innovation Strategy Board, and EU Horizon 2020 Advisory Boards, among others. He is a review editor of the IPCC Special Report on Oceans and the Cryosphere.
Chief Scientist, USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security
Rob Bertram is the Chief Scientist in USAID’s Bureau for Resilience and Food Security, where he serves as a key adviser on a range of technical and program issues to advance global food security and nutrition. In this role, he leads USAID’s evidence-based efforts to advance research, technology and implementation in support of the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future. He previously served as Director of the Office of Agricultural Research and Policy in the Bureau for Resilience and Food Security, which leads implementation of the Feed the Future research strategy and related efforts to scale innovations in global food security efforts, working with a range of partners. Prior to that, he guided USAID investments in agriculture and natural resources research for many years. Dr. Bertram’s academic background in plant breeding and genetics includes degrees from University of California, Davis, the University of Minnesota and the University of Maryland. He also studied international affairs at Georgetown University and was a visiting scientist at Washington University in St. Louis. He has been especially active in plant genetic resources policy as it relates to research for development, including applications of biotechnology in food security-related research. Before coming to USAID, he served with USDA’s international programs as well as overseas with the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) system.
Director General, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
Johan Swinnen became director general of IFPRI in January 2020. Prior to joining IFPRI, Dr. Swinnen was professor of economics and director of the LICOS Centre for Institutions and Economic Performance at KU Leuven (Belgium) and senior research fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels.
Dr. Swinnen was a lead economist at the World Bank from 2003 to 2004 and economic adviser to the European Commission from 1998 to 2001. Over the course of his career, Dr. Swinnen has been a visiting professor at various universities, including at Stanford University’s Center on Food Security and the Environment, and a frequent adviser to institutions such as the World Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Dr. Swinnen earned his PhD from Cornell University (USA) and holds honorary doctorates from the University of Göttingen (Germany) and the Slovak University of Agriculture in Nitra (Slovakia). He is a fellow of the Agricultural & Applied Economics Association and the European Association of Agricultural Economists, and he served as president of the International Association of Agricultural Economists from 2012 to 2015.
Dr. Swinnen has published extensively on agricultural and food policies, international development, political economy, institutional reforms, trade, and global value chains, and his body of work has been widely cited. His books include The Political Economy of Agricultural and Food Policies (Palgrave Macmillan, 2018); Quality Standards, Value Chains and International Development (Cambridge University Press, 2015); Political Power and Economic Policy: Theory and Empirical Applications (Cambridge University Press, 2011); and From Marx and Mao to the Market: The Economics and Politics of Agricultural Transition (Oxford University Press, 2006).