About Cumberland Colloquia
The report reflects on the discussions of this early career researcher colloquium on sustaining the world’s rural populations. It provides a background note on rural sustainability through summarising the contribution of Earth summits and poverty eradication targets to improving rural livelihoods. There is pressure on our planet to ensure a sustainable future and four emergent themes were noted as essential considerations for future sustainability: climate change; food security; water security; and adaptation and governance. The paper concludes by suggesting that a more integrated multi-institutional framework is required to provide a solid platform for conducting sustainability research.
In contemporary society, global issues threatening the future sustainability of the planet are at the forefront of media and public debate. Rural populations are vulnerable to several stressors such as natural hazards, economic hardship and food deficiency. Such pertinent and topical issues are continuously communicated in the media: e.g. famine in the horn of Africa or floods in Pakistan. Media articles and charity pleas actively engage the general public in worldwide poverty following such acute events.
However, the underlying vulnerability of rural populations to such stressors is generally a chronic problem, and the plethora of issues inducing rural vulnerability provides exhaustive opportunities for important and impactful academic research. Development agencies such as the United Nations Environment Programme, Food and Agriculture Organisation and Department for International Development are heavily investing in alleviating rural poverty worldwide and such institutions are becoming increasingly engaged with research outputs from the academic community.
The colloquia provided a platform for early career researchers to discuss issues regarding the future sustainability of the world’s rural populations; to exchange theories, concepts, case studies and methods, learning from each other and priming potential future collaborations. A truly multidisciplinary focus was adopted, selecting delegates from a broad range of backgrounds and disciplines including environmental sciences, sociology, ecology, complex systems, development, hydrology and demography.
Dr Ellie Biggs
Dr Gary Watmough
Benny Dembitzer, Ethical Events
Professor Declan Conway, University of East Anglia
Dr Charles Howie, An Giang University, Vietnam
Lindsey Jones, Research Officer, Overseas Development Institute
Natalie Suckall, University of Leeds
Dr Hong Yang, University of Southampton
Some speakers have kindly provided copies of their powerpoints which are available for download below.
• Food security for rural populations
• Water scarcity and security in challenging rural environments
• Migration: desire or necessity?
• Climate impacts on rural environmental sustainability
• The adaptive capacity and resilience of rural systems
• Rural poverty or prosperity?
• Environmental hazards and rural vulnerability
The Colloquium culminated in a public lecture given by John Hilary, Executive Director, War on Want, entitled 'Reclaiming the Global Food System: How to end the scandal of rural poverty and hunger'
Rural populations still make up the great majority of the world's poor, even though rising food prices should be benefiting farming communities. Instead, rural poverty and debt is an intractable problem, being made worse by a failed model of food production that benefits big business at the expense of local communities and the environment. Yet there is a positive alternative that can solve the problems of hunger, poverty and environmental sustainability: the frameworks of food sovereignty and agroecology, currently being put into practice in rural communities across the world. The talk looked at the problems with the current model of intensive, free market agriculture and introduce this positive alternative for a better world.
About the Speaker
John Hilary is the Executive Director of War on Want. He has worked in the field of international development and human rights for over 20 years, and has authored numerous publications on issues of globalisation, trade and investment. War on Want campaigns against the root causes of global poverty, as part of the worldwide movement for social justice: www.waronwant.org
Cumberland Lodge offers its expertise and beautiful venue to facilitate interdisciplinary and inter-institutional conferences, run by and for postgraduates and early career researchers. Click here to find out more