Knowledge for a sustainable world

16th October is World Food Day – and this year’s theme is ‘Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together.’ It seems a fitting day to announce that a consortium of nine UK universities and research institutes, led by the Natural Resources Institute of the University of Greenwich, has been awarded a prestigious grant from UKRI to create a Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) focused on developing the next generation of interdisciplinary food systems thinkers.

The United Nations dedicates a day to rural women – this year Oct 15th – to recognise the crucial role women play in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities, and for performing the bulk of unpaid domestic work, child rearing and care within rural homes.

Emotional health, well-being, welfare, state of mind, psychological state – we use many phrases to describe mental health, and it’s becoming increasingly common to discuss mental health openly. The recent lockdown has robbed us of many things, including at NRI, regular face-to-face interaction with our colleagues and the opportunity to pick up on clues that someone’s mental health might be suffering.

NRI PhD student, Christina Conroy, is currently enjoying a winning streak. This year she has been awarded three separate prizes for her work from the Royal Entomological Society, the Society of Chemical Industry and the Worshipful Company of Fruiterers. Christina takes up the story …

What implications will the pandemic have on the daily lives of people around the globe? How will the lockdowns, layoffs and food shortages affect people’s mental health, relationships, work, income, and expectations of their government? Life with Corona is a not-for-profit research project designed to capture the voices and moods of affected citizens around the world.

Laxmi Prasad Pant, Senior Lecturer/Researcher Human Geography/Food Systems |

The COVID-19 pandemic served as a ‘perfect storm’ to expose the fault lines of the industrial food system [1] – millions of young broiler chickens buried alive, vegetables ploughed under the soil, and milk dumped, all due to disruptions in the supply chain. Simultaneously, people increasingly depend on charities and relief workers to secure their next meal. Regardless of the pandemic, industrial modernization has already pushed regionally oriented traditional food systems to the margins, partly because of the perceived food quality and safety issues and fast, modern lifestyles.

Wetlands, including marshes, swamps, bogs and fens, exist at the intersection between land and water. Many of these landscapes are beautiful, ethereal places, and a source of inspiration to artists, poets, writers and photographers. They are important for wildlife habitats, act as flood defences, and are great recreational spaces.

Over one million tonnes of small, whitebait-like fish are caught in the Great Lakes and rivers of eastern and central Africa each year. Small pelagic fish (SPF) are one of the best sources of micronutrients and essential vitamins, and they are affordable by the people most at risk of malnutrition and stunting. Known colloquially as Dagaa, Mukene, Usipa and Kapenta, large quantities of SPF are harvested, mainly by small-scale fishers, processed by small-scale processors and marketed through traditional market channels.

Despite living in one of the most biodiverse areas on the planet, many of the indigenous communities of the Amazonas Region in Peru experience high levels of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition. Over half of the region’s indigenous children under five years of age suffer from chronic undernutrition and anaemia.

July has been declared ‘plastic-free July’ where everyone is encouraged to notice and check their use of plastics, especially ‘single-use’ plastic items. The Plastic Free Foundation, the organiser of this month’s initiative, was founded in 2017 with a vision of seeing “a world free of plastic waste”.

This year’s graduation will happen virtually. At 1000 BST today, Friday 24 July 2020, the names of graduating students will be read out by NRI’s Director, Professor Andrew Westby. Awards will be conferred by the University of Greenwich Vice Chancellor, Professor Jane Harrington. Everyone choosing to graduate in the virtual ceremony will receive a mention and there will be a sense of occasion, celebration and achievement, albeit remotely.

At the beginning of March 2020, Manuela Carnaghi was elected President of NRIPS – the Natural Resources Institute Postgraduate Society – and she was brimming with ideas. But what she hadn’t bargained on, was the entire country entering lockdown, and the Medway campus closing its doors for the foreseeable future. Manuela takes up the story.