February 27, 2017
The Australian Institute of International Affairs and the Crawford Fund organised a one-day forum on Wednesday 22 February in Canberra on the topic ‘Security3: Food Security, Biosecurity and National Security in the Melanesian Arc’. The aim of the event was to enhance understanding of security concerns in the Melanesian region by bringing together diverse perspectives from foreign affairs, aid, defence, biosecurity, agriculture and fisheries.
Dr Denis Blight, CEO of the Fund, noted after the event that it showed the benefit of cross fertilisation achieved by bringing agricultural, biological, social and political scientists together.
“The Melanesian Arc is markedly different from Africa and the Middle East: shifting agriculture in PNG and elsewhere; different social and religious structures; no great tradition of migration; and climate variability is more about extreme weather events, sea level rise, acidification and eastward shift of fish stocks. Nevertheless, these factors combined with population increase; declining soil fertility as shorter fallow periods in shifting agriculture; fading ‘subsistence affluence’; the absence of alternative industry and employment opportunities; as well as extended periods of drought, are worrying trends.”
“A take-home message for me is that we need multidisciplinary brainstorming of well-informed science, policy and researchers in the policy-science nexus to identify priority actions, better coordination and targeted investment of R&D,” said Dr Blight.
In addition to the opening by the Fund’s new Chair, The Hon John Anderson AO, an address was made by our Director of Master Classes, Dr Colin Chartres. Other presenters included:
The Fund will be including information gleaned from the forum in its submission to Australia’s first foreign policy White Paper since 2003.
During the Forum, the Fund’s new Chair, The Hon John Anderson AO, was involved in a national media outreach to highlight the important nexus between food security and global security. Some of that media coverage included: