Securing WA’s Food Future: Are We Ready for 2030?

Guest speakers and panellists at the Independent Summit Dialogue for the 2021 UN Food System Summit in Perth, Western Australia.

The United Nations Association of Australia WA Division (UNAAWA), together with Sustain: The Australian Food Network, held Western Australia’s only Independent Summit Dialogue for the 2021 UN Food System Summit titled Securing WA’s Food Future: Are we Ready for 2030? at Murdoch CBD Space in Perth.

Josh McGuire delivered a powerful Welcome to Country, treating the audience to beautiful song as well as highlighting the role of Traditional Knowledge in healing Country and securing our food future. President of UNAAWA Dr Sandy Chong followed with a motivating address highlighting the interconnectedness of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and how food systems are inextricably linked to each and every SDG.

Alan Beattie, CEO of Noongar Land Enterprise Group (NLE), delivered an insightful keynote regarding the state of Australia’s native produce industry – including both local and national perspectives. The report was commissioned by Food Innovation Australia (FIAL), this event marked the first public preview of the findings. Alan spoke to the growing bush food market, “valued at $20-50 million per annum”, and the need to grow First Nations representation – which currently sits at only “1-2% participation rate by value”. Greater protections are required to safeguard Traditional Knowledge and avoid further exploitation and appropriation occurring in the food system sectors.

“Until IP laws are strengthened to protect Cultural and Sacred Knowledge, it is imperative that Aboriginal communities are supported to protect and retain knowledge and provided with more information to fully understand what IP tools and legal framework are available to them…”

One such legal framework is the Nagoya Protocol – Australia has signed but not ratified. One of the key recommendations from the report was:

“The Commonwealth Government ratify the Nagoya Protocol so that rights of Australia's First Nations people are protected. The Commonwealth Government develop comprehensive legislation so that one set of rules apply Australia wide so that the rights of Australia's First Nations people are protected.”

Themes from the keynote trickled into the panel discussion, with speakers discussing how elevating First Nations voices, different agricultural methods, and educating our young people can help transform our food system by 2030.

The panel discussion was led by Chair of UNAAWA SDG Forum Lily Jovic and the speakers included: Professor Stephen van Leeuwen (Indigenous Chair of Biodiversity and Environmental Science at Curtin University), Marissa Verma (Managing Director of Bindi Bindi Dreaming), Meena Srinivasan (Year 8 student at Perth Modern School) and Jeff Pow (Regenerative Farmer at Southampton Homestead).

While the panel discussion was happening, four breakout discussion groups were gathered around the four pillars of food security – availability, accessibility, utilisation, stability. The multi-stakeholder groups were made up of 10 people from all corners of the local food system.

A full report will be released in the coming weeks, detailing they key outcomes from these facilitated discussions. Graphic recording by Will Bessen of Tuna Blue (see below)

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