2014 Young Scholar: Sarah van Bronswijk

ACT scholars 2014
ACT Committee Coordinator Tony Fischer, Sarah van Bronswijk, Soumi Paul Mukhopadhyay, Temma Carruthers-Taylor

Sarah van Bronswijk

Sponsored by the ACT Committee

Sarah is currently undertaking a masters in international affairs at the Australian National
University with the aim to work in international agricultural development. She studied languages and European studies at the University of Sydney and the Otto-Friedrich University of Bamberg, then entered the Australian agricultural industry working in livestock export RD&E. Seeing the work done in partnership with other countries on livestock export led to Sarah’s passion for food security and agricultural sustainability. Sarah is attending the Conference to tap into the passion of fellow attendees to do exactly as the Conference title says: to feed the 9 billion, well.

Conference report

In my view, the Crawford Parliamentary Conference had a fantastic sense of purpose in the involvement and encouragement of the young delegates in attendance…”

The recent Crawford Fund Parliamentary Conference on Ethics, Efficiency and Food Security provided a glimpse into the future of agricultural development, and the challenges ahead for the scientific and international community in finding meaningful solutions for sustainable food security.

A highlight of the Crawford Fund Conference was the engagement and involvement of delegates across the board. The discussions between presenters and the audience during Q&A’s were thoughtful and provocative, but a personal highlight was seeing the conversation taken over to Twitter. One of the aims of the Crawford Fund is to bring focus to world issues that need to have global conversations. The conversation on Twitter during this year’s Parliamentary Conference demonstrated just how useful social media can be at promoting dialogue on such critical issues. An entirely new level of engagement was made possible online by the live-tweeting of the Conference. The #CF2014conf and @CrawfordFund twitter handle and hashtag lit up with highlights and commentaries on the brilliant presentations and topics. It allowed for direct and deeper engagement on the subject matter with others at the Conference, and even had some of the key presenters themselves chime in! The potential of technology as a tool for improving efficiency in agricultural development was demonstrated brilliantly by the conversations held online. The ability to discuss key issues in food security with amazing minds in agricultural research, and to have the key researchers whose names we might have referenced a hundred times in papers reply back to you was an incredible opportunity to experience.

The Scholars’ Day was an invaluable experience of the Conference. Young delegates were given the opportunity to hear from some of those prominent in the world of agricultural development. We got to hear personally their stories and career paths, and ask questions of what steps they took when they were just starting out themselves. Particularly as a young woman, I was also inspired by the strong support of the role of women in agriculture and development that was evident throughout the Conference. After a day mingling among the giants of international development and research at the Conference, the daunting first steps of this career seemed less daunting after the Scholars’ Day. This is in no small part thanks to the fantastic level of support and encouragement that the Crawford Fund and every delegate in attendance provided.

The Conference’s focus on “Feeding the 9 Billion, Well” will continue to be a focus of international development and sustainability for decades to come as the 9 billion mark is approached. In my view, the Crawford Parliamentary Conference had a fantastic sense of purpose in the involvement and encouragement of the young delegates in attendance. We heard during the presentations just how urgent these questions already are for food security and sustainability: by encouraging networking and the capacity for mentoring and further engagement among those well-established with those just entering into their fields, the Crawford Fund has successfully helped the next generation of researchers and scientists to become involved in the discussion on questions that will remain challenging in forty years.