The Symposium will feature discussions on research in particular themes and discussions of how research universities can foster the collaborative efforts required to address complex global challenges.
Each global challenge will be considered in its own right, but it will also be examined in tandem with others (e.g., How does providing affordable clean energy affect the supply of food and water for the world’s growing, as well as aging population?).
Agriculture, Food and Water
Providing safe, nutritious and abundant food is a goal for every nation. Meeting these goals rests on the global agricultural enterprise, an enterprise that will face increasing challenges in future decades. These challenges stem from demands for higher yields. They stem from the need for food with complete nutrition for the developing world. They stem from the need to reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture by reducing agrochemical use and soil loss. They stem from increased pest and pathogen pressures. And, in the face of a climate that is changing in ways that we don’t always precisely understand, they stem from the need for water.
Energy & Environment
Modern energy services have been one of the critical enablers of prosperity in the developed world. Such energy services are essential for the production of food, clean water and clean air, the provision of health care and in driving economic growth. However almost three billion of the world’s inhabitants lack access to modern energy services such as clean cooking fuels and electricity. Many of these people remain in poverty and the disparity in living standards is set to rise as a result of population growth.
Public Health and aging
The scale of change in global health in the last twenty years is unprecedented in human history. Improvements in global population health reflect increased access to education and healthcare, stable food, water, and energy supplies, and economic development. Non-communicable diseases (e.g., cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes) now contribute a greater burden of premature death and disability across the world, and presents a challenge for all nations now and in the future. These complex changes are occurring at a time the population’s age distribution is dramatically changing across the globe, as a consequence of lower birth rates and increasing life expectancy. The health of this growing and aging population is influenced by a complex set of socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental factors. As we move forward in the 21st century, we will require new, multi-disciplinary approaches to consolidate and increase the gains in health achieved in the last several decades. Transnational research and educational initiatives promise effective responses to the new realities of global health. Solutions will not be simple or one-dimensional and future decision-makers will need better and affordable, tools, programs, and policies. Innovations must be found in the global context of climate change, energy sustainability, and rapidly developing information technology. Universities that combine the efforts of many disciplines will be best placed to respond with solutions and equip future leaders to tackle these issues.