March 13, 2013

Feeding Cities: Food Security in a Rapidly Urbanizing World

past event


Conference Purpose

Penn’s Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR), in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania Schools of Arts & Sciences, Design, Education, Law, Medicine, Nursing, Social Policy, Veterinary Medicine and Wharton, was pleased to present “Food Security in a Rapidly Urbanizing World,” the first international conference to examine the critical link between urbanization and global food security. The nexus between food security and urbanization touches on one of the most fundamental challenges facing modern society—how to provide an affordable, sustainable and nutritious diet to the world’s burgeoning population of city dwellers.

With some 6 billion people projected to inhabit urban areas by 2050, this task is not only urgent but immensely complex. It will require coordinated management of the myriad agricultural, ecological, social, economic, and land use systems that underlie globalfood production, distribution, consumption, and nutrition. To ensure an accurate portrayal of the complexity of this global challenge, Penn IUR is collaborating closely with seven schools from across the University of Pennsylvania.

Program Highlights

Held over three days, conference attendees heard presentations and participate in plenary and focused breakout sessions designed to facilitate a discussion to identify implementable solutions to the fundamental challenge of our modern age: how to provide a sustainable, nutritious and affordable diet to the world’s burgeoning urbanpopulous. More than 60 speakers and some 300-400 attendees across the public, private and non-profit sectors assembled on Penn’s campus to advance the conference’s ambitious, though achievable goals: (1) Stimulate constructive dialogue and foster the exchange of knowledge among a diverse group of speakers and attendees and (2) Spur the creation of teaching, research and practice-based coalitions, with participation from both the public and private sectors, dedicated to ensuring a secure, sustainable and equitable food distribution system for the 21st century. Toward this end, speakers and attendees will delve into the interrelated issues of supply, demand, environment, geography, governance, as well as urban food access, price and distribution.          

The conference program will include keynote presentations from Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director/Undersecretary General for UN-HABITAT, Ellen Kullman, CEO of DuPont, and award winning author and journalist Fred Pearce (invited), as well as 4 plenary sessions and 12 focused breakout sessions. Attendees will be invited to experience the Feeding Cities Photography Exhibition and gallery tour, showcasing the work of the Penn community working and studying around the world, as well as explore the conference book fair. An edited volume to be included in The City in the 21st Century Penn Press book series will be published following the conference.         

Conference vidoes and additional materials are available through the iTunes U Feeding Cities course:


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