Food security experts from all over the world are set to converge on Belfast next month for a major summit on how to feed a growing global population.
Up to 700 delegates are expected to attend the four-day event running from May 28-31 at the Belfast Waterfront. The Belfast Summit on Global Food Integrity is being held amid massive industry challenges including climate change, Brexit, labyrinthine food supply chains and food fraud.
It will be chaired by Professor Chris Elliott OBE, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the Medicine, Health and Life Sciences faculty at Queen’s University, who led the UK government’s inquiry into the horse meat scandal.
Keynote speakers already signed up include representatives from the World Health Organisation; the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO); World Wildlife Fund; World Bank; PepsiCo as well as internationally leading agri-food research institutions such as Wageningen URL (the Netherlands).
Dubliner Dr John Bell, Head of Bioeconomy at the Research and Innovation Directorate General of the European Commission, will open the summit.
The event, which hopes to provide a major boost for Belfast tourism and international business links, will be hosted by the Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queen’s, founded by Professor Elliott, along with principal partners safefood and Laval University, Quebec, Canada.
Many social and tourism activities are planned by IGFS to showcase the best of Northern Ireland, including a Game of Thrones tour, a gala dinner at the Titanic Centre and a welcome reception at Belfast City Hall. Delegates will also be treated to an atmospheric, artisan food market, featuring the best of NI food producers, at St George’s Market.
Although hosted by world-renowned academics from IGFS at Queen’s, the summit will be attended by a range of experts from across the international food industry, food science and agri-food/environmental science sectors, including business leaders, policy-makers, and representatives from NGOs.
Business links and networking will be promoted through all of the social activities as well, on a number of organised tours of local agri-food industry outlets.
Delegates have already registered from all over the world including USA, Canada, many European countries, Vietnam, China, India, Chile, Brazil, as well as African countries including Senegal, Nigeria, Uganda, South Africa and Ghana.
Catherine Toolan, managing director at Belfast Waterfront, said the Belfast Summit will put the city “on the map in terms of our reputation in global food integrity”.