A NEW centre of excellence has been launched in the UK to focus on food security and sustainability.
Thanks to generous funding of £750,000 from the John Innes Foundation, the Norwich Institute for Sustainable Development (NISD) has just been launched.
The new Institute harnesses complementary strengths across the Norwich Research Park, including the University of East Anglia’s School of International Development (ranked in the top three British development studies departments), the John Innes Centre and The Sainsbury Laboratory (together ranked first globally for plant sciences).
In a video released to celebrate the launch, recently appointed director, Professor Nitya Rao, explains what is different about the new Institute.
She said: “The Institute involves a wide range of researchers from the social sciences and the natural sciences who bring world class knowledge and experience to some of today’s most pressing global challenges for humanity.
“Our aim is to support our researchers in working and learning together, with environmental sustainability and the livelihoods and wellbeing of farmers and their communities at the centre of our efforts.”
John Innes Foundation Fellow in Sustainable Development, Dr Peter Emmrich, added: “We are working to create an improved high-protein, climate-resilient crop for farmers in East Africa and South Asia. Biologists are breeding improved seeds and conducting field trials of those seeds, working in the same team as social scientists and economists who are being guided by farmers about their preferences in assessing potential local markets for this crop.”
The Institute supports continued progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the UK government’s stated ambition to “leverage wider UK expertise through the UK’s world-leading science, research and development base to tackle global problems.”
Dr Natasha Grist, John Innes Foundation Fellow in Sustainable Development and Agriculture, highlights the urgency of climate change in these efforts.
She said: “We are working to develop agricultural systems that are adapted for what we know will be a greatly changed climate in the future.
“Led by evidence from people experiencing those changes, we are bringing researchers and practitioners together across disciplines to spark the transformational ideas and solid research needed to create a more environmentally sustainable, food secure world in future decades. This is the most critical issue facing the world today.”
During 2021 the Institute kicks off with a series of international speakers invited to discuss food security, environmental sustainability and agricultural innovation.