Riyadh, 29 Oct 2019: Hundreds of global policymakers and business leaders who play a central role in investment and innovation environment globally are attending “Davos in the Desert” that kicked off in Riyadh today. The event, the three-day Future Investment Initiative (FII), with nearly 6000 attendees, focuses on key strategic topics in regional and global investment.
The first day of FII saw a lively discussion on how governments, businesses and investment models can address the challenge of food security.
“By 2050, the world’s population is projected to grow by two billion people. To meet the food demand will require 60% growth in agricultural production,” said Christopher Hirst, CEO of Palladium, a global firm focused on bringing about positive social and economic change that organised the Eat taskforce at FII.
“A crucial challenge will be to find solutions to the food security challenge that are sustainable and scalable,” Hirst added.
At the Eat taskforce, moderated by Hirst and Palladium board member Alonzo Fulgham,speakers discussed feasible and sustainable solutions to feeding the generations of the future. One area of focus was innovative technology, ranging from the use of AI to robotics to “smarten” farming. Technology like this can help address some of the challenges traditional farming is facing, including finding ways to use fewer natural resources and reduce CO2 emissions, while helping meet the need of higher yields with less landscape degradation.
Experts also discussed the role of consumers – the necessity of reducing food waste and changing diets – if we are to meet the food demand while addressing climate change concerns. Raising livestock is extremely resource-intensive, for example, and produces far fewer calories and nutrients per gram than plants. Beef production, for instance, requires 20 times more land and emits 20 times more greenhouse gasses per gram of edible protein than common plant proteins, such as beans and peas. A change of diets away from meat and dairy is a key step in addressing the food challenges we face.
Speakers also discussed the balance needed between local food production and global trade to ensure food security. While trade enables the cheaper production of food in one country for consumption in another, disruptions in trade can lead to price shocks and threaten the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in importing countries.
There are no simple solutions to these problems, as all speakers agreed. The answers are as complex as the challenges, and will require a concerted effort of businesses, governments, consumers and investors, working together in new and innovative ways.
Future Investment Initiative (FII)
The Future Investment Initiative (FII) is an international platform for expert-led debate between global leaders, investors and innovators with the power to shape the future of global investment. It is focused on utilizing investment to drive growth opportunities, enable innovation and disruptive technologies, and address global challenges.
The third edition of FII will continue building active, global networks of influential decision makers to explore the emerging industries that will shape the global economy and investment landscape over the coming decades.