Food: The Power is on Your Plate Series Speakers

Dr. Agnes Kalibata

Special Envoy of the UN Secretary-General for the 2021 Food Systems Summit

Headshot of Dr. Agnes Kalibata

As the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy, Dr. Kalibata works with the United Nations system and key partners to provide leadership, guidance, and strategic direction towards the 2021 Food Systems Summit. She is responsible for outreach and cooperation with key leaders, including governments, to ensure the Summit serves as a catalytic process within the Decade of Action to improve food systems around the world to deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Paris Agreement.

Since 2014, Dr. Kalibata has also served as President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), where she leads the organization’s efforts with public and private partners to ensure a food secure and prosperous Africa through rapid, sustainable agricultural growth, improving the productivity and livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers in Africa.

Prior to joining AGRA in September 2014, Dr. Kalibata was Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources (MINAGRI) from 2008 to 2014, where she drove programs that moved her country from a food insecure to a food secure status and became a reference point for other countries that sought to deliver agriculture transformation. Dr. Kalibata has held several other leadership positions, including Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Agriculture and Deputy Vice Chancellor of University of Rwanda. She also worked for the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Uganda, and various other agricultural development organizations. She sits on various boards, councils and commissions including the Global Commission on Adaptation, the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, the Global Panel for Agriculture & Food Systems for Nutrition, the Global Agriculture & Food Security Program (GAFSP), the Global Agenda Council of the World Economic Forum, the Malabo-Montpellier Panel, and Africa Risk Capacity, among others.

Dr. Kalibata has a distinguished track record as an agricultural scientist, policy maker and thought leader. She was awarded the Yara Prize, now the Africa Food Prize, in 2012, an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Liège in 2018, an Honorary Doctorate from McGill Univeristy in 2019, and the National Academy of Sciences’ Public Welfare Medal in April, 2019 for her work to drive Africa’s agricultural transformation through modern sciences and effective policy thereby improving livelihoods of stallholder farmers. Dr. Kalibata holds a doctorate in Entomology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Dr. Renata Micha

Research Associate Professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University

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Dr. Micha is a registered clinical dietician, public health nutritionist and epidemiologist whose research focuses on the effects of diet on health, and on population strategies to improve diet. Dr. Micha is Senior Investigator in current iterations of the Global Dietary Database (GDD), aiming to characterise diet habits and corresponding impacts on health on a global scale. Dr. Micha has also been instrumental in establishing and coordinating the work of the Food Policy Review and Intervention Cost-Effectiveness (Food-PRICE) initiative. As part of this initiative, she leads and guides components relating to modelling the health and economic impacts of food policies to improve diet and health in the US.

Johan Rockström

Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Professor in Earth System Science at the University of Potsdam

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Johan is an internationally recognized scientist on global sustainability issues and led the development of the Planetary Boundaries framework for human development in the current era of rapid global change. He is a leading scientist on global water resources, with more than 25 years experience in applied water research in tropical regions, and more than 150 research publications in fields ranging from applied land and water management to global sustainability. In addition to his research endeavours, which has been widely used to guide policy, Rockström is active as a consultant for several governments and business networks. He also acts as an advisor for sustainable development issues at international meetings including the World Economic Forum, the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Conferences (UNFCCC). Professor Rockström chairs the advisory board for the EAT Foundation and the Earth League and has been appointed as chair of the Earth Commission.

David Tilman

Regents Professor and McKnight Presidential Chair in Ecology at the University of Minnesota, and Distinguished Professor in the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management at the University of California Santa Barbara

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David Tilman is an ecologist whose long-term experiments and related theory showed that biodiversity is a major determinant of ecosystem stability, productivity, carbon storage and susceptibility to invasion. His more recent work focuses on agriculture, and seeks ways to preserve biodiversity, prevent extinctions and moderate climate change while providing secure and healthy diets for all the people of the Earth. Tilman is a member of the National Academy of Science and a foreign membership of the UK’s Royal Society. Major awards include the International Prize for Biology (2008), the Heineken Prize for Environmental Sciences (2010), the Balzan Prize (2014), the BBVA Foundation’s “Frontiers of Knowledge Award” (2015) and the Blue Planet Prize (2020) for work on food, health, agriculture and the environment.

Dr. Walter Willett

Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School

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Dr. Walter Willett served as Chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health for 25 years.

Dr. Willett was born in Hart, Michigan and grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, studied food science at Michigan State University, and graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School before obtaining a Doctorate in Public Health from Harvard School of Public Health. Dr. Willett has focused much of his work over the last 40 years on the development of methods, using both questionnaire and biochemical approaches, to study the effects of diet on the occurrence of major diseases. He has applied these methods starting in 1980 in the Nurses’ Health Studies I and II and the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. Together, these cohorts that include nearly 300,000 men and women with repeated dietary assessments are providing the most detailed information on the long-term health consequences of food choices.

Dr. Willett has published over 2,000 research papers, primarily on lifestyle risk factors for heart disease and cancer, and has written the textbook, Nutritional Epidemiology, published by Oxford University Press. He also has four books for the general public, Eat, Drink and Be Healthy: The Harvard Medical School Guide to Healthy Eating, just recently revised and released, Eat, Drink, and Weigh Less, co-authored with Mollie Katzen, The Fertility Diet, co-authored with Jorge Chavarro and Pat Skerrett and Thinfluence, co-authored with Malissa Wood and Dan Childs. Dr. Willett is the most cited nutritional scientist internationally. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the recipient of many national and international awards for his research.