Chair of the Organizing Committee
Professor, Graduate School of Agricultural and Life Sciences, The University
1. Background of the Conference
Science Council of Japan has organized a series of International Conference
every year since 2003. Its common theme is “Science and Technology for
Sustainability”. The basic concept of “sustainability” which underlies
throughout this series seems to be understood as an “intergenerational
equity”, which shall mean “development that meets the needs of the present
generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet
their own need”. This basic concept was originated from the Report “Our
Common Future” which was made and published by the World Commission on
Environment and Development (so called Brundtland commission) in 1987 and
then adopted by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
(Rio Earth Summit) in 1992. Succeeding this trend, in “Johannesburg Declaration
on Sustainable Development” declared at the 2002 World Summit, they promised
to cope with various problems which would threaten “Sustainability” and
determined to maintain clean water, sanitation, adequate housing, energy,
health care, food security and the conservation of biodiversity as a global
With the background of such global trends and the World Summit, Science Council of Japan has organized “International Conference on Science and Technology for Sustainability” six times since 2003, focusing on different themes. These are “Energy and Sustainability Science”, “Asian Megacities and Global Sustainability”, “Dynamism and Uncertainty in Asia”, “Global Innovation Ecosystem”, “International Cooperation for Development” and “In Search of Sustainable Well-Being” respectively. In 2009, the seventh conference, we focus on “Global Food Security and Sustainability”.
Food issues, e.g. geographical and generational equality of food provision, are linked to a wide range of important global issues the world encounters and, therefore, interdisciplinary studies and latest findings are inevitable. It is necessary to integrate the knowledge of life science and economics such as; balance between food production and biodiversity conservation, systems for stable food distribution, preparation for catastrophe with devastating impact, mechanism of usage reproductive water and energy resources even they will dry up, and responsibilities and compensations for future generations on the global environment such as global warming. Political sciences are also needed in terms of the social consensus. However, despite the various endeavors in the world, the improvement is still not enough in less hygiene environment region where UN Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets and even at the areas economically developed to some extend, environmental issues and economic development is incompatible. Food issues are intimately linked directly with these facts and also deeply influenced by the global climate change. Therefore, the contribution to the global policy from the view of scientific and academic fields on food issues is desired.
Science Council of Japan which organizes this Conference covers all fields of Humanities and Social Science, Medicine and Life Science, Science and Engineering and has a responsibility to discuss these issues. Furthermore, it will be a significant contribution to send the messages to the world in cooperation with the world of academia towards the realization of a sustainable society.
For sustainable food security, it is necessary to consider the following five aspects.
(1) Food production and Market principle
The demand and supply of food differs from region to region or depends on the season. Difference of harvest season by supplying regions will make the price of grains at demanding regions change complicatedly, moreover, in case that both regions are far each other (across the borders), it would cause a greater time gap of investment and change of price. Considering this peculiarity of food supply, there are three options.
The first is to leave food supply to the market principle. The second is to implement the protection trade policy. The third is the combination of the market principle and protection trade policy.
Can the first option, leaving food production to the market principle and promoting the liberalization, guarantee the sustainability of food supply in the world? Can the second option, implementing the protection policy toward food production, make the sustainability of food production possible? Can the third option, achieving appropriate combination of market economy and policies as Meles Zenawi, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia suggested, be realized? We will take this issue not as food security within a certain country but as the global food security and discuss it.
(2) Emergency food supplies
Does the food supply system work effectively in emergency situation such as earthquakes, drought, floods, volcanic eruption, tsunami disaster and the financial crisis? Is the food supply secured as a welfare policy? Food security must show its real worth in emergency. Large-scale food production which can overcome the price competition or agriculture which can be involved in the biofuel market should be regarded as offensive aspects of food supply. On the other hand, food supply in emergency is regarded as defensive aspect. Global food security as a part of crisis management has to be carefully examined. In July 2008, the United Nations announced a comprehensive action plan saying four trillion yen a year shall be necessary as a fund for food crisis and called for international cooperation. This is one example of the global food security.
(3) Food production and demand for biofuels
Food production and bio-energy production have still competed with each other. First half of 2008, price of grains surged by rising oil prices and expanding production of biofuels as alternative energy. Surge of food price resulted from this chain of events became the biggest problem. In April 2008, Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the United Nation, asked the international community for emergency funding to cope with the global crisis arising from soaring food prices. However, second half of 2008, by the global financial crisis and following economic recession, the price of emissions trading of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and oil price dropped sharply and then food prices fell slightly. As described above, food price no longer change by itself but always related to production of bio-energy and other elements. The consideration for Global food security and sustainability is essential.
(4)Environment-conscious food production
Food production consumes land fertility, water source, energy and affects wildlife and natural environment, therefore, it is indispensable to establish the system of Environment-conscious food production for food sustainability. Has any system by which food production can avoid to destroy unproductive natural environment been established? The UNEP research reported that two billion ha soil out of 14.9 billion ha land in the world has been degraded recent 20 years, due to human activity. This is equal to the land of North America (U.S.A. and Canada). This soil degradation includes the soil erosion and soil chloridization due to inappropriate agricultural production. Is it unavoidable sacrifice that biodiversity suffers from large-scale food production system? For building sustainable society, it is necessary to discuss how we can reconcile the food production with conserving ecosystem and developing urban functions.
(5) Global warming and food production
Global climate change will directly affect food production. In Kyushu area
where the global warming has been recognized, a bunch of the southern green
stink bug (Nezara viridula (Linnaeus)) moved up to the North last summer
and production of soybeans in Oita Prefecture received severe damage. It
is also concerned that high-temperature injury to the rice. As the global
warming greatly affects food production, i.e. new pests, other barrier
to growth, it is necessary to examine how to cope with this issue.