Climate conference to focus on food

Robyn Francis

Food security will be a focus of November’s Climate Change/Social Change conference, being held in Melbourne. An entire workshop stream will be devoted to the topic.

The global food system captures the insanity of production for profit: One in six people in the world are malnourished, yet the United Nations estimates that 40-50% of all food in the United States is wasted.

Food waste makes up to half of Australian landfills.

Corporate control of our food puts entire ecosystems at risk. Fossil-fuel-hungry industrial food systems responsible for huge amounts of greenhouse gases. Wresting control of what we eat from the powerful food multinationals will be a vital part of the transition to a safe climate future.

Robyn Francis is one participant in the conference who will contribute to this discussion. An award-winning permaculture designer and educator, Francis is the principal of Permaculture College Australia based in Northern NSW.

In 2008, Francis took part in a 40-day exchange visit to Cuba, visiting 40 permaculture and related projects throughout the island nation. She has returned to Cuba several times since.

Francis was founding director of Permaculture International in 1987, editor of the Permaculture International Journal, and designer and creator of Djanbung Gardens, Australia’s leading permaculture centre in northern NSW.

Other speakers confirmed for the conference include David Spratt, a Melbourne-based climate policy analyst, writer and activist. He is the co-author of Climate Code Red, which was published by Scribe in 2008.

NASA’s James Hansen said the book made “a compelling case for recognizing .. that we face a climate emergency”. It was shortlisted for the 2009 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards. Spratt co-founded the climate change education and advocacy NGO Carbon Equity and is a member of the advisory group of the Melbourne Climate Action Centre.

Damian Lawson is a long-time environmental, climate action and social justice activist, based in Melbourne. He is the coordinator of the Melbourne Climate Action Centre, an open access resource centre. Lawson is a former national climate justice coordinator with Friends of the Earth Australia and advisor to former Greens Senator Kerry Nettle.

[The Climate Change Social Change conference is being organised by Green Left Weekly<;/em> and the Socialist Alliance. It will take place at the University of Melbourne, November 5-7. For more details and to register visit]