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?).
Lower birth rates and increasing life expectancy are dramatically changing the population’s age distribution across the globe. We are now beginning to live in “top-heavy” societies, with fewer young people and more old people.
Food, Water, and Climate Change
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.
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. While interventions to prevent child mortality and infectious diseases are still needed, non-communicable diseases (e.g., cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes) now contribute a greater burden of premature death and disability. This shift in burden is not limited to the developed regions of the world; this is a challenge for all nations now and in the future.