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Published by Communications and Public Affairs 519 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

May 26, 2006

Sustainable Livelihoods, Ecosystem Health Focus of Conference

The University of Guelph is hosting an international conference June 4 to 7 on sustainable livelihoods and ecosystem health. The gathering is expected to attract policy-makers, researchers, practitioners and students from Canada, the United States and Europe.

The conference will allow participants to share ideas and experiences about everything from AIDS, climate change and disaster relief to asset-building and human rights, said organizer Prof. Tony Fuller of the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development.

“This is an opportunity to think about the complexity of the issues,” he said. “It’s not about problem-solving but systems thinking, where uncertainty and surprise are normal.”

He added that one of the conference’s goals is ensuring that key players consider the broad implications of policies and strategies for tackling threats to livelihoods and the environment.

Speakers will include Naresh Singh, recently named executive director of a United Nations commission on the legal empowerment of poor people. Formerly director general of governance and social development with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Singh is the co-author of Sustainable Livelihoods: Building on the Wealth of the Poor and is a former visiting fellow at Guelph’s Ontario Agricultural College.

Also on the roster is Mario Giampietro, director of the Unit of Technological Assessment at the National Institute of Research on Food and Nutrition in Italy. He's the author of Multi-Scale Integrated Analysis of Agroecosystems.

Fuller hopes the conference will foster new links between environmental and social agencies. They’re the kinds of connections he says are needed to cope with, or even anticipate, the effects of an epidemic or environmental disaster, from HIV- AIDS in Africa to a tsunami in Southeast Asia. “You have to mesh the ecological side with the human side,” he said.

The “Sustainable Livelihoods and Ecosystem Health: Informing Policy, Practice and Research” conference culminates two years’ worth of discussions and study under a project headed by Fuller called “Building Institutional Capacity.” That project, funded jointly by the University and CIDA, is intended to support rural development research and policy discussions involving policy-makers and development agencies.

Advance registration is required. For those unable to attend the entire conference, one-event pricing is available for the opening reception and dinner on Sunday, June 4. More information and complete registration details are available online.

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

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