Global perspectives in advancing food security in the circumpolar world

The international panel addressed these questions:

1. What is the main barrier to advancing food security in your country/area of specialization?

2. Your suggestion on how to address this barrier?

3. What is the most promising idea/suggestion to advancing food security in the circumpolar north?

Tom Allen, University of Saskatchewan, Canada:

Food security is a very complex issue. No one is talking about people who are food insecure. Food security is a serious social and health concern in Canada. Almost every province has gone backward since 2005. There is no other subject matter that is as complex as food and it has connections to so many other disciplines. You have to bring people to the table from all jurisdictions. Sasketoon is one of the richest provinces and one in seven children are hungry. We need data-driven research to show how food is connected to health and education. We need to learn how to effectively lobby government. We need a coordinated effort, public and private sectors, universities. We are reaching a tipping point. How high will health care costs go before we realize the importance of food in health? We need to be proactive and give a coordinated message to government.

U.S., Bryce Wrigley, Alaska farmer

There is no food security without a strong, local food system. Processing is a critical component. We need an agency to nourish the local food system until it can stand on its own. We need the university’s support of agricultural research. We need a broader, wider ability to cooperate internationally. We need to elevate food security to the policy level. It is critical to life and happiness.

University of Saskatchewan, Karen Tanino, Canada:

There is a new grant will show the importance of agriculture to everyday life. Why not try to make a very attractive, positive video showing food systems, health, community development are all important? Why not do it from an international perspective? The video could be used throughout the circumpolar north to show the importance of agriculture to the economy and show the importance of research? We can try together as a project to capture that funding and build a video. Maybe we should have an arctic food day where we ask everyone not to eat. This would get media attention.

University of the Arctic Thematic Network lead, Geopolitics, Finland, Lassi Heininen:

There have been discourses on global issues, where is food security? We are not just talking about lack of food but food safety. It is important to be clear on what we mean by food security. We will have discourse with globalization. Food security and food safety are part of human security.

University of Alaska Fairbanks Professor Milan Shipka:

One of the difficulties we face is it’s hard for people to conceptualize food security when their stomachs are full. There are several meanings for food security. We have food availability, food affordability, food safety. It’s hard for policymakers when they get a mixed message.

Berndt Skarstad, leader Northern Norwegian Council of Agriculture:

How do you use the arable land? Fish farming is becoming more important in Norway. Food safety is a good argument to produce local food. The customer needs to know where the food is produced. There are very high prices on food in Norway compared to the rest of Europe.

UAF Cooperative Extension Service Agent Darren Snyder:

The threat of business as usual is there. Need a platform within our group. Let’s get our act together more. We need to have our message, our plan, more cohesive. Be clear how we are looking at the whole food/one health idea. We have opportunities to create what would work and go to policymakers with that in mind to strengthen the food system as a while. Create the framework before we ask them.

Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Alaska Food Policy Council, Sitka:

Connect with your media channels and work strategically to get as many stories as you possibly can. Pair the stories with the research and the data. Policy changes when we have really good data but hearts change when people hear stories. This is an opportunity to engage younger people. We have to have a sense of urgency about this. It’s important right now. We don’t have the luxury of a lot of time. Find the right spokespeople. Stretch and connect outside our comfort zones. We don’t have a lot of money but we have spirited people with amazing stories.


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