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News Release

April 17, 2006

Making Poverty History Focus of International Symposium

Leading international experts who are working to eradicate global poverty will gather at the University of Guelph April 25 and 26 for the “Making Poverty History: Doing More of What Works” symposium. The event will be held in Rozanski Hall and is free and open to the public. Advance registration is required.

“Poverty exists everywhere and is an all-pervasive challenge,” said U of G president Alastair Summerlee, adding that nearly three billion people live on less than $2 a day and one billion children in the world live in poverty. In Canada, about 15.5 per cent of children live in relative poverty, and in Ontario, there are nearly 400,000 poor children, a figure that has grown by 41 per cent in the past decade.

“Poverty is the universal barrier to education, health and well-being and is the base of hunger, ignorance and disease,” he said. “Universities are vibrant, active communities of people who are armed with knowledge and experience and who must take a leadership role in the elimination of poverty.”

He says universities can start by focusing on the areas they have expertise in: influencing public opinion and public policy, motivating students and communities to become engaged, contributing to international development opportunities, and mobilizing some of the best minds in the country to discuss such issues of great social importance with the public.

The Guelph symposium will feature a keynote address by Elisabeth Tankeu, the African Union’s Commissioner for Trade and Industry, April 25 at 7 p.m. Tankeu, an expert in long-range planning, development policies, poverty-reduction strategies and environmental and gender issues, also served as Cameroon’s minister of plan and territorial development.

Other keynote speakers are Agnes Wakesho Mwang'ombe of the University of Nairobi in Kenya, who will discuss “Poverty Issues for Women and Youth” April 26 at 9:15 a.m., and Gerald Helleiner of the Munk Centre for International Studies at Trinity College will speak on “Poverty: Local, National and International” at 1 p.m.

There will also be panel discussions Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. aimed at finding solutions to poverty. They will feature participants from UNICEF Rwanda, World Vision, the Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, the Canadian Council for International Co-operation and the Tamarack Institute, as well as scholars, business leaders and others.

“Making Poverty History” is part of a series of ongoing events U of G is sponsoring to engage the public in stimulating discussions on emerging global issues.

More information and registration forms are available online.

Keynote Speakers

Gerry Helleiner is chair of the Board of International Lawyers and Economists Against Poverty and an economics professor emeritus and distinguished research fellow at the University of Toronto’s Munk Centre. He has held posts at Yale University, the University of Ibadan, the University of Dar es Salaam, the Institute of Development Studies, the World Institute for Development Economics Research and the University of Oxford. He served as the research director of the Group of 24 and chaired the boards of the North-South Institute. He currently serves on the executive committee of the International Development Research Centre, the executive board of the African Capacity-Building Foundation, the Program Advisory Committee of the African Economic Research Consortium in Nairobi, and the UN Committee on Development Planning.

Agnes Wakesho Mwang'ombe is principal of the College of Agriculture and Veterinary Sciences at the University of Nairobi and former dean of the Faculty of Agriculture. An expert in plant pathology, particularly plant resistance to diseases, she focuses on rural female farmers in her work and field research. She serves on various agricultural and scientific committees, including the Technical Committee on Gender in East Africa for the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research, and on the Advisory Committee in Agricultural Technology Transfer under the Maendeleo Agricultural Technology Fund. The fund is a regional initiative supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation that aims to improve the livelihoods of farming communities in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

Elisabeth Tankeu was elected the African Union’s commissioner for trade and industry in 2003 and has served as Cameroon’s minister of the plan and territorial development. She is responsible for promoting intra-African trade and for negotiations involving the World Trade Organization and the EU-Africa Economic Partnership agreements. She also initiates and oversees measures that encourage African countries to develop common positions for trade negotiations, and designs strategies to build the supply-side capacity of African countries in regional and international markets. An economist by training, she has been a consultant for the United Nations and the World Bank. Her expertise includes long-range planning, development policies, poverty-reduction strategies and environmental and gender issues.


Kathy Bardswick is president and chief executive officer of The Co-operators Group. She is chair of the International Co-operative and Mutual Insurance Federation and a member of the Credit Union Central of Canada’s CEO Committee. She also serves on the Conference Board of Canada’s executive committee and on the University of Guelph’s Board of Governors.

Gerry Barr is president/CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation. A longtime advocate, he was awarded the Pearson Peace Medal in 1996. He has served as executive director of the Steelworkers Humanity Fund, as a member of the North-South Institute and as a member of the steering committee of the Ethical Trading Action Group.

Doug Blackburn is the manager of education and public engagement for World Vision Canada.
He oversees a team that produces curriculum resources for schools and churches, hosts youth leadership workshops and supports special initiatives such as the 30-Hour Famine. He also worked with the United Church of Canada, supporting community development work in Brazil.

Paul Born is co-founder and president of Tamarack, a charitable community engagement agency. A former executive director of the Communities Opportunities Development Association, he served as the consulting director of Opportunities 2000, an initiative to reduce poverty in the Waterloo region. He has also founded and led several other local and national organizations.

Martin Connell is the co-founder and co-owner of ACE Bakery Limited and president of the charitable organization Calmeadow. He was awarded the Pearson Peace Medal and is a Member of the Order of Ontario and an Officer of the Order of Canada. He chairs the Toronto Community Foundation and is a past chair of the Toronto Film Festival, the Toronto Advisory Board of the Salvation Army and the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy.

Martha Greig is president of the Pauktuutit Inuit Women’s Association of Canada, where she supports policy development and community projects. A native of Cape Hope Advance Bay near Quaqtaq, Nunavik, she is an advocate for the social, cultural, political, health and economic betterment of Inuit women, their families and communities, and is a traditional midwife.

Betsy Martin is the senior adviser and program consultant for Community Foundations of Canada (CFC), where she directs the Social Justice Initiative and the CFC/McConnell Family Foundation program. She also developed and directed CFC’s “Our Millennium” program, which engaged 4.6 million Canadians in more than 6,500 local community-building projects.

Phocus Ntayombya, a University of Guelph graduate, is vice-president of UNICEF staff associations in Eastern and Southern Africa and a member of Rwanda’s National Commission for Soil Management and Conservation. He also served as general director of environment for the government of Rwanda and was Rwanda’s director of environment and tourism.

Manish Raizada is a plant agriculture professor at the University of Guelph working to develop low-cost biotechnologies, including engineering crops that require fewer nutrients and water. He is director of the CropLink Global Initiative, which aims to link the world’s agricultural experts by providing free websites to researchers in developing countries.

Jack Wilkinson is president of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers. A farmer, he produces grains and oilseeds and has a beef cow/calf operation. A past president of the Canadian Federation of Agriculture and the Ontario Federation of Agriculture, he has addressed the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the World Trade Organization and the World Bank.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, Ext. 56982.

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