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Reporting from the dialogue on Higher Education for Sustainable Agriculture (HESA) and Food Security

On March 19 and 20th 2015 the Chulalongkorn University School of Agricultural Resources (CUSAR) in Bangkok hosted a small expert group discussion followed the next day by a Public Forum and Academic Dialogue on Higher Education for Sustainable Agriculture (HESA) and Food Security in Thailand.”  Government officials, scholars, international agency representatives, NGOs and members of the public attended including scholars from leading universities and research institutes from across the country. The event was made possible as part of a small project supported by the Swedish International Agricultural Network Initiative (SIANI) with funding from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

This was the first national HESA activity in Southeast Asia to examine environmental concerns as well as broader social and economic sustainability challenges associated with conventional agriculture and food security in the region, discussing implications for education policy, capacity building, curriculum development, institutional reforms and national planning.  Similar events and follow-up initiatives are planned for Lao PDR and the Philippines in coming months.  CUSAR will also host a small regional HESA meeting August 18th in association with a related conference on “Social And Sustainability Sciences in the ASEAN Community” 19-21 August 2015 that will include HESA experts from the region in food and agriculture education discussions.  That planned conference will be sponsored by Chulalongkorn University in partnership with the ASEAN University Network (AUN), the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Bangkok, Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, Social and Human Sciences Unit (see link).

More information about the 20th March Thai public HESA meeting plus copies of the  PowerPoint presentations made by government officials at the event page.

The principal planned outcome of each national HESA research and dialogue process is to produce one Policy Brief on HESA and Food Security for each country based on a preliminary national survey of institutions, programs and curricula as well as academic expert group analyses and feedback from public-government dialogues on key issues. The aim is to publish these Policy Briefs on the SIANI website by end of 2015 and circulate them more widely as a contribution to better engage Southeast Asian regional organizations, governments, donors, university leaders and higher education systems toward improved national policies planning, curricula and institutional reforms that would support more sustainable agriculture and food systems while reducing poverty, increasing food security and bettering livelihoods.