I was thrilled to be the first student from the Schulich School of Engineering to participate in the Global Challenge course. I believe that the best Engineers have a wide lens on the world around them and hope to impact meaningful change as I progress through my academic and professional career.
I was highly motivated to be part of this inaugural course as my parents instilled in me from an early age, that we have so much to be thankful for and have an obligation to give back where we can based on our unique capabilities. I have always been passionate about supporting others with different challenges, and have been actively involved with 30 Hour Famine, We are Silent, Vetrans Food Bank, Bikes for Africa, Medical Mercies for Nepal, Sight Night and Rocky Mountain Adaptive Sports. In the future, I hope to be able to volunteer with Engineers without Borders as I expand my technical skills. I am committed to giving back to my community, both locally and globally.
I was honoured to be receive the "Class Act" Award in recognition for my leadership and involvement at Henry Wise Wood High School. Some of my high school experiences included, delegate for Heritage Canada Youth Forum on International Affairs, Model UN, and Yamate Cultural Exchange to Japan.
When not studying, music is my passion! My family is very active hiking, biking, skiing and snowboarding in the spectacular Rocky Mountains. On early mornings during the summer, I can be found at the Calgary Rowing Club. I have a keen appreciation for a quick wit and recently solved a Rubic's cube in under two minutes!
Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.
Most Important Learning
Ending hunger is a moral imperative. Yet this pressing global issue is clouded by politics, socio-economic barriers, and looming climate change. We must address the root causes of hunger with a concerted effort to engage all stakeholders to bring an end to the issue. This might seem overwhelming to an individual acting in isolation, but with increasing awareness and a willingness to get engaged, we can truly make a difference. A cultural revolution is happening now with people taking action in their communities to address the ways they can improve food security. It is each individual person's responsibility to act to bring about the greatest change locally and therefore create a global wave of change to achieve a sustainable ecosystem.
Critical Reflection #1
The global challenge of feeding nine billion people intrigues me because it is a highly complicated issue that cannot be solved in isolation. The complex interaction of social, political, economic, and scientific forces appeals to my passion for discussing current issues and debating the best way to address them. The concept that our collective proposal could directly impact our local community or the broader world is highly enticing. I feel very strongly that we all have an obligation to leverage the opportunities given to us to help others that are not as fortunate. I am eager to be a trailblazer in the unique approach to student driven learning and incorporating the multiple research methods that this inaugural course offers. The opportunity to work with people with a wide range of perspectives and abilities holds great interest to me, especially to offset the more analytical approach that is required from my primary discipline, Engineering. I am excited to actively engage in this course to gain knowledge and wisdom that will impact my future endeavors.
I have always been performance driven and strive to set high standards in all aspects of my life. Although this skill is critical to success, I am often challenged to maintain balance between my academic and social commitments. In order to overcome fixating on a single issue and feeling overwhelmed, I am trying to improve the way that I handle my workload by creating a plan for the entire project and allocating time to complete each section.
Secondly, I believe that my skills as a consensus maker will contribute to group discussions. I tend to be inherently quiet and prefer not to take the centre stage, but through purposeful exploration, I can find I can impact and influence others. Many times within a group, a single opinion can sway the outcome, but engaging and respecting each individual can explore a more encompassing solution.
The last skill that I can bring to the table is my experience with adaptability. My visual impairment has challenged me throughout the years to explore alternative methods to pursue my goals. With my unrelenting commitment to push myself outside of my comfort zone, I have also built up my resiliency, as things are never foolproof. I always focus on what is possible and never am limited by other’s perceptions. I hope that these skills and experiences will positively contribute to the group dynamics and the outcomes of the course.
The magnitude of the challenge to feed nine billion people is filled with complexity and will require innovative thinking and unprecedented cooperation between the multitudes of stakeholders in order for the world citizen to thrive. The equity of the global economy is dramatically off balance due to the unrelenting competition for scarce resources. This has been compounded by the increasing impact of climate change. Society will have to rethink many cultural attitudes in order to achieve greater efficiency in regards to food security. With much patience, a shift in the way people interact with the world can create a global society that is prepared for the challenge of feeding nine billion people.
Public policy must be designed to alleviate food insecurity. Income levels are a primary determinant of food security and, according to Global Issues, the poorest 40% of the world’s population receives 5% of global income while the 20% richest individuals earn 75% of global income. The third world’s limited resources cannot cover the costs of inputs, while first world entitlement has driven increasingly volatile food prices. Over 1.1 million Canadians were impacted by food insecurity in Canada in 2012 with glaring regional disparities. 36.7% of residents in Nunavut have been affected; over four times the national average at 8.3%. Some form of income safety net will be required to improve nutrition levels, that will in turn, improve overall health and economic growth to fuel global prosperity.
Another critical shift to achieve food security will be the reduction of carbon-intensive food sources and associated attitudes towards alternative protein sources. Land use policies need to be addressed as productive land use continues to decline. Instead of growing grains for human consumption, animal feed production consumes one third of all arable land, causing great inefficiencies, as three kilograms of grain are needed to produce one kilogram of meat. It is estimated that by reducing demand for meat to 37.5kg/capita, an extra 1.2 billion people would be able to be fed by 2050. Furthermore, large-scale farming operations create a greater strain on land and water resources, let alone the associated carbon impact of storage, transportation, and distribution. The unsustainable practices of the global food production network needs to be remedied.
It is often said that the easiest and most impactful change is effected locally. Individuals can determine how and what amount of food gets produced by voting with one’s wallet and reimagining the way their own land is used through this concept of “permaculture”, to achieve self sufficiency. With these principles in mind, individuals may choose to produce their own food or other natural resources that may be used in local economies. A stronger production web in and around cities will help combat food insecurity in an increasingly urbanized landscape. Furthermore, scientific innovations can improve drought and disease resistant crops to sustain food security, By focusing on creating strong food networks locally, individuals can reduce the global carbon footprint, become self-sufficient, improve their own local economies, and help ensure food security around the world.
Critical Reflection #2
This course has contributed greatly to my understanding of personal strengths and areas for improvement. The opportunity to enhance my research capabilities by learning about databases and the critical analysis of source materials was invaluable. I have grown to appreciate my analytical skills and the importance of conducting thorough research. Most critically, I was able to leverage my adaptable nature in order to explore options and make adjustments to initial concepts for both the flex assignment and our group pitch project. Despite my desire for performance driven results, I learnt to be more pragmatic in regards to viability of implementation in consideration of external stakeholder’s agendas. It furthered my resolve that change is most impactful with committed individuals acting locally. The complexity of the global challenge requires that projects are well researched, and executed with excellence, to ensure maximum impact.
This semester has furthered my skills as a discussion moderator and consensus maker. I find that I am able to take into account the positions of discussion leaders, and then propose reasonable solutions. I have found that I can accomplish this by being honest about my own strengths and weaknesses, and encouraging others to do the same. In order to bring solutions to the global challenge, it will be necessary for people from separate disciplines to come to consensus. Mediators will be essential for facilitating discussion and allowing the most viable solution to be put forward.
My experience with Global Challenges has helped solidify my understanding of who I am and how I can make an impact on my community – both locally and globally. I have strived, and will continue to strive to make a sincere contribution to improve the world around me by being an engaged and active global citizen.
The worldneeds to take bold steps in order to address the challenge of feeding 9.7 billion people by the year 2050. It is our collective responsibility to bring about the end of food insecurity and hunger. In order to solve this critical issue, a series of actions and practices must be adopted, with consideration from a range of disciplines like the political and economic, to cultural and environmental. The solutions are complex and must not be considered in isolation, rather it is imperative that systemic steps be taken bring about sweeping changes to resolve our global vulnerability.
It is shocking that 20 million people today in Africa and Yemen starving due to gaps in funding from the humanitarian efforts of the United Nations. Although each member state is obligated to contribute to the UN general budget based on their nation's Gross National Product, many, including Canada, have not met this obligation. In fact, this year, only six member countries have met the UN's forty seven year old voluntary target of 0.7% of GDP for International Aid. The Canadian Council for International Cooperation estimates that Canada contributed only twenty six cents for every $100 of GDP. The urgent need to assume political responsibility must be addressed to resolve some of the complex issues that have created the current refugee crisis and associated famine.
Responsible land use policy is another important factor to achieving global food security. Currently, roughly 50% of the world's population live in urban centres, a number which is expected to grow to 70% by the year 2050 as people search for new opportunities. Governments must balance the loss of valuable, arable land with the need for safe and affordable housing. The next step towards resiliency begins with reducing use of fertilizers and water. With increasingly dense cities, reducing irresponsible water use and encouraging the use of both private and public space to grow crops can increase local food security and should bring about stronger communities. Furthermore, changing traditional farming habits to the practice of polyculture has shown to reduce the dependence on harmful chemical agents, improve biodiversity and increase yields. With strong, local farms creating unbroken supply lines, with a low carbon cost, society can take another step towards food security.
Food waste is a frighteningly ubiquitous issue facing the world's supply chains. Food waste in landfills alone accounts for roughly 8% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions, not to mention the costs of labour and energy to initially grow and transport the crops. Approximately one third of the world's total food is wasted each year. This occurs in a number of ways, either through unsustainable harvesting practices, post-harvest loss due to poor storage, lack of quality transport, consumer bias against 'ugly' food, and general household waste. It is estimated that by eliminating just 1/4 current food waste, 870 million more hungry people could be fed. Food waste, in all of its forms, is ultimately a local issue; whose resolutions could lead to a domino effect of solutions. Western households that buy local and waste less, reduce demand for imported cash crops, enabling small scale farmers in developing countries to sell and buy locally, and expand their economies. Combined with the monetary means, new technologies for the reduction of post-harvest loss could then be implemented to further reduce global food loss. The elimination of food waste is a prime target for the global challenge as it would lead to benefits for all across many different fronts.
Addressing gender inequality is an essential step towards establishing global food security. Worldwide, women play a fundamental role, not only as producers but also providers for their families. However, women often face greater difficulty in gaining access to resources needed to improve their economic circumstances. In many nations, patriarchal structures still hold ultimate power over women and girls in rural locations. Many are forced to walk for miles every day to fetch water, and are often prevented from pursuing an education. By championing education for girls, the chance for stronger, more diverse and stable communities emerge. Ensuring women the world over have the economic means to acquire healthy meals for their families creates a positive feedback loop; greater food security returns to greater opportunity. It is estimated that if women were treated the same as their male counterparts, an additional 150 million would be able to be fed. Empowering women and changing cultures will be challenging, and progress will be slow. However, it is undeniable that this process should begin as soon as possible, so as to effect the greatest change towards a sustainable future.
The path towards a lasting global food security is complex, and challenging. However, by accepting our social responsibility and implementing interventions to address food waste, land use, and gender equality, we can begin to resolve global hunger. As an individual, it is often daunting to consider how one can effect change in such a vast, complicated world. It is most important to act locally, while pressuring for change globally. By making informed choices and taking purposeful actions, the path towards feeding nine billion people is achievable with determination and commitment.