Knowledge for a sustainable world

Keith Tomlins, Professor of Food Science, NRI |

How might COVID-19 affect food systems in LMICs (Low- and Middle-Income Countries)? Of the few published articles about food and pandemics, most refer to obesity or high-income countries. [1,2] Regarding LMICs, the Ebola outbreak in 2014 caused severe food shortages, higher prices by up to 150% and contributed to reduced food security, poorer infant and young child feeding practices and poorer nutrition. [2,3]

Louise Abayomi, Senior Research Fellow – Postharvest Specialist, NRI |

Nigeria is the most populated African country, with almost half the Nigerian population living in extreme poverty (WB, 2018). Food and nutrition security is therefore of particular concern. Lagos State in the south-west of Nigeria is home to around 21 million people (10% of the national population). Traditional open markets are the norm for food trade in Lagos.

Uche Okpara, Fellow in Climate Change and State Fragility, NRI |

In Lake Chad, just over 85 soldiers involved in the fight against violent extremism were killed recently following a long battle with the Boko Haram sect. Much of North-eastern Nigeria and Western Chad near Lake Chad remain under intense insurgent attacks as shocks from drought intensify, and humanitarian conditions worsen.

John Morton, Professor of Development Anthropology, NRI |

As I write, the full impact of the new coronavirus and the associated disease COVID-19 on developing countries is yet to be seen, and is hard to predict in either scale or nature. Yet it is clear that those impacts will include impacts on both smallholder and commercial farming and on other links in food supply chains.

Judy Bettridge, Fellow in Biostatistics for Food and Agriculture, NRI |

Hazelnut muesli bars, fresh mackerel, frozen mushy peas: the curious selection of scattered items among the desolation of empty shelves in my local supermarket in Kent, UK, reminded me of time spent in Ethiopia, where our local shop in Bishoftu (Debre Zeit), a small town 45km outside Addis, never seemed to have the same stock two weeks running!

Trees are important, as everyone should know, and since 2012, the UN General Assembly has named March 21st as the ‘International Day of Forests’. The theme for 2020 is forests are “too precious to lose”. The UN states that, “when we drink a glass of water, write in a notebook, take medicine for a fever or build a house, we do not always make the connection with forests. And yet, these and many other aspects of our lives are linked to forests in one way or another.”

Valerie Nelson, Professor of Sustainable Development, NRI |

Can the current health crisis lead to the kinds of changes we so urgently need to combat the interconnected climate and environmental crises we face? What does COVID-19 mean for food, agricultural, livelihood and community systems? Post-pandemic, the world will not and cannot return to ‘business as usual’.

Conor Walsh, Environmental Scientist, NRI |

What constitutes a global crisis? What differentiates it from a national or regional problem? By definition, a pandemic reflects a threat to human health that transcends territorial and jurisdictional boundaries. Ironically, the collective response to COVID-19 serves as a severing of the connections afforded by transit and free movements whilst simultaneously presenting a shared experience for many (and a set of practices that are shared by a substantial amount of people in many countries).

Personal account by Gillian Summers, NRI Communications Specialist

Green entry card and passport at the ready, I showed the guard my credentials and was waved inside the gates of Buckingham Palace, along with our group and the other winners of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Further and Higher Education. We’d arrived earlier that cold, grey London morning, happy that it wasn’t yet raining as we took photographs outside the railings of the Palace.

This year, Bristol played host to the annual Post Graduate Forum of the Royal Entomological Society, an event organised by post-graduate students, for post-graduate students. Designed to give participants a gentle introduction to the world of scientific presentations, the two-day event provides an ideal platform for post-grads to network, share ideas and have some fun. Manuela Carnaghi, a member of the Society and a PhD student at NRI, took on the challenge of organising this year’s symposium and says the experience was a good one.

A message from Professor Andrew Westby, Director of NRI

Dear friends of the Natural Resources Institute,

My colleagues and I at NRI hope that you and your families are well at this difficult time. The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic reminds us how we all live in a very interconnected world and the importance of working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Friday 13th might be considered unlucky for some, but it proved to be exceptionally auspicious for two students at the Faculty of Engineering and Science heat of the annual Three Minute Thesis – 3MT – competition.