‘Sustainable Food System’s Conference’ hosted by the Manna Center for Food Safety & Security: Food Security applications in the BRI

Food security and sustainable ecology stand as a significant tenet in the viability of a society in the twenty-first century. As the 13th 5-year plan has indicated, China is invested in facilitating food security and sustainable ecology to promote its ascension to a ‘moderately prosperous society” by 2021. This SIGNAL note will focus on the June 20-21 ‘Sustainable Food System’s Conference’ hosted by the Manna Center for Food Safety & Security. This Note intends to reflect on some of the practical lessons and processes necessary in ‘sustainable; agriculture, environment and nutrition, and express their possible applicability to Chinese markets. We aim to present that innovative Israeli know-how can promote increased food security and safety in a variety of settings. To best convey this idea we will focus on two of the most impactful panels at the conference- “The future of farming in Israel” & “Food policy and the sustainable development goals” to illustrate how creative and unique approaches can enable a better and more cohesive food security strategy in China and beyond. 

Case Study: The Future of Farming in Israel

In n fruitful session led by Dr. Opher Mendelson, from the Israeli Forum for Sustainability and Nutrition, some of the complex realities of modern farming were contextualized into tangible tools which could maximize outputs and promote economically viable and nutritional solutions to a variety of food security challenges in Israel and developing markets. Chief among these translatable solutions were the need to emphasize not only greater value to food, but also investing in innovative and natural solutions to implement sustainable food systems. 

In the panel, Dr. Alit Weil-Shafran touched on the importance of ecologically savvy watering techniques to produce greater yields while decreasing harmful environmental impact. According to Dr. Weil-Shafran, improved water processing and more efficient use of grey water for agricultural purposes could significantly improve food security at minimal cost across the board. Dr. Weil-Shafran’s analysis was followed by a critical insight, presented by Dr. Zipora Tietel of the Negev based Volcani Institute, Dr. Tietel’s presentation focused on the benefits of shifting to crop production which emphasizes nutritional content as well as increased yield to create agricultural outcomes. With high nutrition, high yield varieties of crops, farmers increase their ability to maximize output while increasing the quality of their product. In essence Dr. Tietel suggest rethinking the equation of crop production to better represent the evolving nutritional requirements of growing populations demand on agricultural production.

Case Study: Food Policy and the Sustainable Development Goals

In continuing the conversation on viable and innovative solutions to sustainable food systems challenges, Dr. Elliot Berry of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Dr. SandroDernini of the FAO brought the dynamic into a global context by evaluating the complicated, but ultimately societally mandated reality of sustainable development.Dr’s Berry and Dernini used the panel as a springboard for integrating holistic solutions the lofty and often cumbersome reaches of the UN Development Goals.
Dr. Berry suggested a strategy to address sustainable development on a national and international level. By solidifying a comprehensive national and international strategy to address some of the most critical UN mandated development goals- especially goals #2,3,6 (the end of Hunger, improved Health, and increased Water Security) Dr. Berry suggests the ambitious aims of the UN Sustainable Development Goals may well be within reach. By systematically coordinating governmental agencies under the auspices of the sustainable developmental goals, nations and multinational organizations could facilitate practical solutions to hunger, health and water management across the developing and developed world. 

Relevance to China

As China grows its per capita GDP and promotes domestic agricultural production in line with the core themes outlined in the 13th five-year plan, sustainable development stands at the heart of China’s viable ascension to a ‘Moderately Prosperous Society.’ By improving crop production strategies which build yield and nutritional content, China could improve basic health standards while meeting its domestic agricultural aims, all at minimal cost. Implementing the UN supported development goals, China could use the resources of the global community in “pursing coordinated development” and “improving the environment and ecosystem” two central themes of the 13th five-year plan.

As China expands and refines its agricultural sector, the importance of sustainable growth will continue to provide an outlet in which innovative minds can decisively address complex problems. China’s focus on innovation invites such thinking to be applied to food security. If China intends to reach its domestic agricultural and environmental goals, the real impact of implanting sustainable solutions could provide often simple answers to very challenging issues in food security and safety.

Relevance to Sino-Israel Relations

In order to build stronger ties across economics, diplomatic and academic sectors, Israel strives to provide creative ideas and innovative approaches to critical challenges which concern the Middle Kingdom. Increasing the impactful exchanges seen in the development of sustainable ecosystems could provide this outlet, facilitating a broader and more comprehensive relationship between Israeli experts and scholars and their Chinese counterparts. As such the 2016 ‘Sustainable Food Systems’ conference provided a critical avenue in understanding innovative and holistic approaches to development in Israel and beyond. By facilitating strategic dialog, the conference’s core aims- building agricultural solutions and addressing environmental and nutritional concerns, enabled the diverse participants to view the difficult issues of food security and safety in a new and more refined light.