Each year, the ISTF Committee chooses an annual topic from the realms of management, science, politics and society. Our aim is to capture and condense the most relevant debates currently shaping the world around us and bring them front and center at the ISTF in Switzerland.
The 9th ISTF will take place from February 05 – 08th 2020 and revolve around the theme
Food is essential to life. Yet, we cannot take our food for granted – many of the Earth’s occupants have long struggled to feed themselves. As the human population continues to grow, we alter the environment to suit our needs, complicating our ability to produce food to meet three key goals: ensuring human health, maintaining environmental sustainability, and preserving or creating social wellbeing. Sustainable and healthy food for all is no doubt one of the greatest challenges of the 21st Century. Even though the world is producing sufficient food to feed its entire population, almost 800 million people (12% of the global population!) face a daily struggle to access enough food. More than two billion people lack essential micronutrients (e.g. iron, zinc, vitamin A), affecting their health and life expectancy.
Less than a third of all young infants in 60 low- and middle-income countries meet the minimum dietary diversity standards needed for healthy growth, and nearly a quarter of children aged under five are malnourished, with diminished mental and physical capacities. At the same time, the number of overweight/obese people has reached more than 1.4 billion adults globally (30% of the Earth’s adult population!), and obesity-related health conditions are increasingly prevalent in both developed and developing countries. On a global scale, there are now more people who are overweight or obese than underweight.
Population and economic growth are drivers of many of these issues. However, globalisation, urbanisation and household wealth are also important factors, and the FAO estimates that food production must increase 60% by 2050 to satisfy the needs and demands of this more connected, larger and richer population.
Further adding to these challenges is the fact that around 30 percent of the food produced worldwide for human consumption – about 1.3 billion tons – is lost in the supply chain or thrown away every year. Although we now mostly live in cities, the food we consume is produced away from population centers, requiring a natural resource base that is becoming scarcer and more fragile. The fact that agriculture is itself the main cause of habitat destruction, biodiversity loss and greenhouse gas emissions – issues that directly threaten agricultural production – means that intensifying agriculture to produce more food may actually undermine global food security. Unless consumption and production patterns become more efficient and less polluting and respect planetary boundaries, current pressures on the planet’s natural resources will only increase further. These factors play out within a global political economy that influences prices and incentives, further increasing complexity and volatility. By working together to find solutions for an evolved food system, we all have the power to bring food to the top of the agenda and make the world food system work for the people and for our planet!
Schedule ISTF 2020
Wednesday 05th to Saturday 08th February 2020
CH – 6207 Nottwil
70 top-talented young adults aged 18 to 23 years. Please note that participation is possible on grounds of invitation only (see details in the application section)