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Tropical sustainability: eating green

James Cook University's Cairns campus will be the greenest place to be tomorrow (Friday 8 March).

James Cook University’s Cairns campus will be the greenest place to be tomorrow (Friday 8 March).

JCU students, staff and the Far North Queensland community will be taking part in the University’s inaugural Sustainability Symposium and Fair.

While the Symposium will address compelling issues such as whether we can feed the nine billion people who will be living on Earth by mid-century, the Sustainability Fair will include entertainment by local artists and an opportunity to learn about and sample the region’s diverse range of fresh foods.

Innovative and sustainable products, education courses, local food co-ops and permaculture groups will all be on show at The Boathouse on the JCU campus at Smithfield from 10.30am.

The Sustainability Symposium will be formally opened from noon, with the first presentation – on Transition Towns – at 1.00pm.

“Sustainability goes to the heart of JCU’s intent to create a brighter future for life in the tropics world-wide,” said Vice-Chancellor Professor Harding, who will deliver the opening address.

“This annual Symposium will see JCU specialists, guest lecturers and community groups focusing on a different issue each year. Food security, and our ability to feed over nine billion people, is the sustainability challenge we’ll be examining this year.”

In an expert panel discussion beginning at 3.00pm, author Julian Cribb will join JCU Professors Bill Laurance and Jeff Sayer to discuss what climate change – combined with rising populations, incomes and consumption – could mean for agriculture and natural systems in the world’s tropical regions.

“What we eat, who grows it, and how and where it’s grown are increasingly critical questions for anyone interested in conservation and sustainable development,” Professor Sayer said.

“If you care about conserving landscape and biodiversity, you need to care about food systems.”

Other Symposium sessions include:

The launch of the International Handbook of Research on Environmental Education, edited by The Cairns Institute’s Professor Bob Stevenson.

JCU experts will discuss how tropical sustainability is embedded in their research. Presenters include Professor Michael Bird speaking on biochar in food production, and Dr Simon Foale on food security in the Coral Triangle.

Two community-based approaches: presentations on the Remote Indigenous Gardens Network and Community Supported Agriculture.

On Friday evening Julian Cribb, author of The Coming Famine, will present a public lecture.

In the book Mr Cribb lays out a vivid picture of an impending planetary crisis – a global food shortage, which he says could hit by mid-century and dwarf any in our previous experience.

“Feeding 10 billion people sustainably through the latter half of this century presents the greatest challenge humanity – and the tropics – have ever faced,” Mr Cribb said.

“Eating is probably the largest impact each of us has on the planet – but most people are unaware of how great that impact is,” he said.

Without radical change to farming systems, cities and diet the global food system faces a series of critical tipping points in the coming half-century.”

Julian Cribb’s lecture will begin at 6.00pm in the Crowther Theatre at JCU in Smithfield.

Entry is free to all these events and all are welcome.

The full program is at: http://www-public.jcu.edu.au/sustainability/fair/index.htm

Issued March 7, 2013

Media enquiries: E. linden.woodward@jcu.edu.au T. 07 4232 1007