Parallel Thematic Session on Food Security at ICRI 2014

The 2nd International Conference on Research Infrastructures - ICRI 2014 - was held from 2nd to 4th April 2014 in Athens, Greece at the Megaron Athens International Conference Centre. ICRI is an international forum related to research Infrastructures co-organised by the European Commission and the Greek EU Presidency of the European Union. It engaged about 700 participants including an exhibition of demonstrations an videos of international research infrastructure projects. 

The goals of ICRI were:

  1. Highlight the essential role of global research infrastructures in addressing grand challenges at all scales: national, regional, continental and global;
  2. Reflect on the needs and challenges that arise during the development and operation of global research infrastructures at national, regional, continental and global level;
  3. Present the main characteristics of global research infrastructures and identify the challenges and drivers for collaboration at an international level.
  4. Take forward the recommendations of ICRI 2012.

Parallel Session on Food Security

One of the parallel sessions was dedicated to Food Security and it was chaired by Lidia Brito, UNESCO, and myself as rapporteur. An excellent group of speakers from Africa, Europe, and US made the session very interesting and stimulating:

  • Segenet Kelemu, International Center for Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE)
  • Abad Chabbi, French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA)
  • Murat Ozgoren , Dokuz Elylul University // ESFRI HFSWG
  • Tim Benton, UK Global Food Security Programme
  • David Stuart, University of Oxford
  • Rob Lokers, Alterra, Wageningen UR
  • Artemis Simoupoulos, The Center for Genetics Nutrition & Health
  • Russ Lea, National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) Inc.

The session was divided in two parts. The first session briefly set the stage in terms of challenges on increasing food production and food security globally. Emerging and developing nations gave brief examples of innovative actions taken and investments made for better food security. The second session focused on the practical steps needed in order to step up the effort, tools useful in this context and how partnerships can be developed, e.g. scientific exchanges, access to infrastructures and knowledge, new technology and virtual networks. The objectives of the session included:

  • To identify challenges on increasing food production and food security globally • To identify research gaps and the needs on research infrastructure
  • To share best practices and recommend actions to address the identified issues including how to improve the existing infrastructures and networks


Some of recommendations provided during the session focused on the need to invest on enhanced human and infrastructure capacity to address existing issues in the content of research in food policy. Speakers also remarked the importance of global cooperation in research connecting local to regional to global coordinated efforts for distributed knowledge production, fund international networks and money that bring these infrastructures together around a research question.

Additionally, an important number of existing infrastructures large and small were identified, but they need to be connected:

  • To map existing infrastructures and programmes and promote, through funding, more collaborative research programmes
  • To fund smaller initiatives to  provide support to those aspects that bigger infrastructures can not address
  • Funding is also necessary to promote better cross-links to other domains of science in particular research on nutrition

More information about the recommendations will be published on the ICRI 2014 during the next weeks, as part of the ICRI 2014 Proceedings.


Vassilis Protonotarios (Greece)

Thank you for the overview of the event. In the meantime, indeed the presentations have been uploaded to the programme page of the Conference's website, including a video recording (MP4) of the specific session, along with your report in the form of slides.

It must have been a really interesting event and I am really sorry to have missed that; however, I will be able to follow through the presentations and the recording!