Posted Thursday January 16, 2020

Launch Event

UNESCO Chair in Food, Biodiversity and Sustainability Studies to be launched at Balsillie School event

Wilfrid Laurier University Professor Alison Blay-Palmer, who was recently named United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chair in Food, Biodiversity and Sustainability Studies, will formally launch the UNESCO Chair at an event on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

At the launch event at the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA), Blay-Palmer and Sébastien Goupil, secretary-general of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, will speak about the prestigious international UNESCO Chairs Program and the research Blay-Palmer plans to do with her partners. Deborah MacLatchy, Laurier’s president and vice-chancellor; Jonathan Newman, Laurier’s vice-president: research; and Ann Fitz-Gerald, director of the BSIA, will also speak.

“The UNESCO Chair in Food, Biodiversity and Sustainability Studies allows us to work together to use food as a lever to help address climate change, provide more access to healthy and fair food, protect biodiversity, and regenerate the environment,” said Blay-Palmer, director of the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems and the Food: Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged (FLEdGE) partnership, funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Blay-Palmer has been working on developing more sustainable global food systems for years. Her partnership-building research was nationally recognized by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada in 2012 and 2019. She is also a member of the prestigious College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada. The UNESCO chair will help her and her team build even more partnerships internationally, particularly in the global south.

Sustainable Food System Assessment book coverBlay-Palmer and some of her partners recently launched an open-access book, Sustainable Food System Assessment: Lessons from Global Practice, which provides insights into measuring food system sustainability. The book is co-edited by Blay-Palmer, FLEdGE project coordinator Amanda Di Battista, Laurier PhD candidate Carla Johnston, Damien Conaré, secretary-general for the France-based UNESCO Chair in World Food Systems, and Ken Meter, a U.S.-based food systems expert. Laurier Adjunct Professor Andrew Spring and Associate Professor Jennifer Baltzer also contributed to the book.

“The book provides practical, tested insights from around the world about the challenges and solutions in assessing change and sustainability in food systems,” said Blay-Palmer. “It is open access so practitioners, policy makers, students and academics can all use the book freely.”

Doors open for the launch event at 6:30 p.m., remarks start at 7 p.m. and will be followed by a reception. The event is free and open to all, but attendees are asked to register through Eventbrite. To learn more about Blay-Palmer and the UNESCO Chair, see the video on YouTube. is distributed twice weekly; Tuesday and Thursday

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