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Penn conference tackles complex relationship between urbanization and food

Feeding Cities: Food Security in a Rapidly Urbanizing World, the first international conference examining the critical link between urbanization and food security, will be held at the University of Pennsylvania from Wednesday, March 13, through Friday, March 15, 2013. The conference, hosted by the Penn Institute for Urban Research (Penn IUR), in partnership with the School of Veterinary Medicine, and a Penn Steering Committee representing nine schools and six centers, is made possible by support from the Rockefeller Foundation and the University of Pennsylvania's Office of the Vice Provost for Global Initiatives.

With more than two-thirds of the world's population projected to inhabit urban areas by 2050, the complex issue of food security in urban environments is increasingly urgent.

"Improving global food security, especially in the face of rapid urbanization and the threat of climate change, is one of the greatest challenges facing the world today, said Dr. Judith Rodin, President of the Rockefeller Foundation, a key supporter of the conference. "For developing countries in particular, providing access to affordable, nutritious food is a crucial step to ensuring local livelihoods, good health, and equitable economic development."

The conference hinges on the perspective that experts and organizations from a multitude of sectors must come together to holistically address the crucial issues of food security and urbanization. More than 60 high-level speakers will address the decisive intersection of global food production, distribution, access, and nutrition in the context of rapid urbanization and climate change. Keynote speakers include Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director, United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat); the Honorable Udaya Gammanpila, Minister of Agriculture, Minor Irrigation, Industries & Environment of Sri Lanka; and Heather Grady, Vice President of Foundation Initiatives at the Rockefeller Foundation.

An effective solution can only be found with the input and hard work of every stakeholder; the Feeding Cities conference launches this critical first step of bringing all essential parties to the table.

"Penn hallmarks, integrating knowledge and working locally to globally, are clearly evident in this important conference," said Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania. "In addressing the looming, immensely complex 21st century challenge of providing healthy, affordable food to 9 billion people by 2050, the conference brings together a multi-disciplinary group of experts scholars, public and private decision-makers, students, activists and the interested public from all corners of the world."

Feeding Cities spans three days and will incorporate focused breakout sessions designed to facilitate discussion on implementable and reasonable solutions to one of our modern age's fundamental challenges: how to provide a sustainable, nutritious, and affordable diet to the world's urban population. Distinguished speakers and attendees across the public, private, and non-profit sectors will assemble to engage in dialogue focused on achieving the answer to this question.

Contact: Deborah Lang
University of Pennsylvania

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