Alison Blay-Palmer to formally launch UNESCO Chair at Balsillie School event on Jan. 28

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On Tuesday, Jan. 28, Wilfrid Laurier University professor Alison Blay-Palmer will formally launch the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Chair in Food, Biodiversity and Sustainability Studies at the Balsillie School of International Affairs (BSIA).

In addition to UNESCO Chair Blay-Palmer, secretary-general of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, Sébastien Goupil, will be present at the event to speak about the UNESCO Chairs Program. Other speakers include Laurier’s president and vice-chancellor, Deborah MacLatchy; Jonathan Newman, Laurier’s vice-president of research and Ann Fitz-Gerald, director of the BSIA.

“The idea is to launch the Chair, make sort of an official beginning publicly to the fact that we have this Chair at Laurier, which is super exciting, and to talk a little bit about what the vision for the Chair is, where we see it going and how it fits into the university and the bigger UNESCO system as well,” said Blay-Palmer, director of the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems and Food: Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged (FLEdGE). “And then we have a reception which is kind of raising a glass and saying ‘hey, this is pretty awesome.’ It’s an opportunity to mark this important opportunity for our community, and the larger community as well.”

We’re going to be able to focus in on building and reinforcing existing networks, research networks…and bring them together in ways that allow more knowledge sharing and learning from all of the different research projects.

– Alison Blay-Palmer, director of the Laurier Centre for Sustainable Food Systems and Food: Locally Embedded, Globally Engaged (FLEdGE)

The event will highlight the importance of the UNESCO Chair in Food, Biodiversity and Sustainability Studies in regards to tackling pressing issues such as climate change, biodiversity and accessibility of healthy and ethically sourced foods, as well as how sustainable food systems can serve communities on a small and large scale.

“The UNESCO Chair is amazing because what is does is it offers a chance to bring together existing and new partners around the issues of food, biodiversity and sustainability studies,” Blay-Palmer said.

“So, we’re going to be able to focus in on building and reinforcing existing networks, research networks…and bring them together in ways that allow more knowledge sharing and learning from all of the different research projects.”

Blay-Palmer herself is a nationally recognized researcher, and she has devoted much of her research to the development of global sustainable food systems.

“I guess the message that we’re putting forward at the launch is that food systems offer a way for us to address a lot of the most pressing issues of our day, including climate change,” Blay-Palmer said.

“And then also to add in new partners, so for example we’re hoping to work and planning to work with Edward Shizha at Brantford, he’s got some amazing work happening in Zimbabawe and we also want to work with some new partners at Rombo university in Kenya and bring them on.”

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and while the event is free, all who wish to attend are encouraged to register through Eventbrite.

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