As an agricultural industry innovator, Jacqueline Heard, Founder and CEO of Enko, offers her thoughts on the future of world food security after participating in the 2023 World Economic Forum.
By Jacqueline Heard, Founder and CEO
In January, I joined global leaders at the 52nd World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. It was energizing to reconnect with fellow WEF Global Innovators and Technology Pioneers – companies that are at the forefront of technological and business model innovation.
This year’s event theme, Cooperation in a Fragmented World, emerged in conversations throughout the week. Our collective attention is divided by a myriad of challenges, many of which we discussed: the impacts of climate change, the war in Ukraine, food insecurity, social justice, cybersecurity, trade and investment, the digital economy and global inequities. Here are a few of my takeaways from the week.
As the panelist focused on food and agriculture, I highlighted the need for equitable access to agtech in order to realize its full potential across small- and large-scale farms. Climate adaptation technologies like climate-adapted animals, heat- and drought-tolerant crops, and AI that predicts disease outbreaks and weather events already exist – but we need to get these technologies into farmers’ hands faster.
This is especially true for the 80% of growers around the world who are smallholder farmers. Climate adaptation won’t be a reality until these farmers have equitable access to emerging technologies and education on how to use them. Leaders from Microsoft and Mastercard recently wrote for the World Economic Forum’s Agenda about what this can look like.
Our panel also addressed loss and damage compensation for regions suffering the worst effects of climate change. Just as I advocate for solutions that will create a more resilient global food system, I urged leaders—especially in local governments—to view loss and damage money as an opportunity to build resiliency in food, water and other systems. This is a significant challenge that will require support from the private sector as well.
My co-panelist Shinta Widjaja Kamdani highlighted how critical partnerships are, especially for developing countries’ governments. This also emerged as a key theme from the Forum overall. Collectively, we recognize that the threats of climate change are too severe and immediate to not address with every available tool. Mitigating and adapting to its worst effects won’t be possible without cross-industry and cross-sector collaborations.
The energy at WEF was palpable. It was inspiring to hear government and corporate stakeholders, financiers and other leaders actively explore how to solve such complex, urgent problems. The focus on advancing global food security after a uniquely devastating year was especially energizing. I came away feeling cautiously optimistic about economic conditions and hopeful about technology’s potential to accelerate essential climate solutions. My conversations with passionate, determined people from around the world bolstered that hope.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Enko collaborate on novel crop protection.
First in a series defining commonly used concepts and phrases relating to modern agriculture.