Food & Nutrition Security – The Biosecurity, Health, Trade Nexus

13-14 December 2021, Canberra


Professor Andrew Robinson

Managing Director, CEBRA, The University of Melbourne

Andrew Robinson is Managing Director of the Centre of Excellence for Biosecurity Risk Analysis (CEBRA), and Professor in applied statistics at the University of Melbourne. He has a PhD in Forestry and a Masters in Statistics from the University of Minnesota, and has published four books, ninety research articles, and fifty ACERA/CEBRA technical reports on various aspects of risk analysis and biosecurity. He is an elected member of the International Statistical Institute. He joined the University of Melbourne in 2005 from the University of Idaho, where he was associate professor in forest inventory and forest biometrics. Andrew spends much of his time thinking about biosecurity at national borders, including analyzing inspection and interception data using statistical tools, designing and trialing inspection surveillance systems, developing metrics by which regulatory inspectorates can assess their performance, and discussing all of the above with interested parties.

Changing and increasing biosecurity risks to food and nutrition security


Australia’s biosecurity system protects us and the things that we care about from invasive pests, including agriculture and the economy, animal and plant health, the environment and social amenity, and human health. The nature of the risk from invasive pests is constantly changing, and almost invariably increasing, so the biosecurity system becomes ever more important.  But what is the system?  How does it work, and will it work the same way in the future? What is our role in it – and how can we best support it?  Surely, it’s all someone else’s problem?

This overview presentation will review the current and future impacts of emerging biosecurity threats to plant and animal production and human health and biodiversity.  We will pull out trends in the emergence and spread of plant and zoonotic diseases and identify key factors that both promote and reduce disease spread. We’ll tease out the threats to food security, nutrition and human health that arise from inadequate biosecurity understanding and management and show how phytosanitary control and best-practice management can materially reduce biosecurity risks for the land-manager and the landscape.

The biosecurity system is no longer just AQIS standing steadfast at the border, and perhaps it never was really that simple. But we need to change the way we think about biosecurity as a system of organisations, as a regulatory framework, and as an outcome.  The increasing interconnectedness of consumers and international markets means that we are now all stakeholders of and participants in the biosecurity system.  Changing trade patterns, changing global alliances, and changing climate all press us to think and act today!  How will we get there?