Seminar series - Agricultural Research for Development: Achievements, Challenges and Priorities // 2020 Assessment of COVID & Food Systems in Asia-Pacific

The ENVS8018 - Partnership Research for Agricultural & Natural Resource-Based Development seminar series will showcase a range of speakers over semester 1, 2022 to explore the challenges and opportunities in the global food system.

Achieving food and nutrition security, poverty reduction, improved wellbeing and greater equity, while conserving and enhancing natural capital, and delivering climate change mitigation and adaptation outcomes, are amongst the greatest and most demanding challenges of this century. The UN Sustainable Development Goals articulate ambitions for each of these elements, and progressing towards those ambitions requires that we also address the synergies and tensions between the SDGs.

Over the past 50 years, a global network of institutions and initiatives has emerged to catalyse and communicate research, enable and link researchers, in support of agriculture and natural resources-based development to address these global challenges. Australian researchers, policy makers and practitioners have contributed to this network and activities in a variety of ways; the Australian Center for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) has played a central role in many of these. ACIAR’s partnership mode of research for development is acknowledged globally as an exemplar that other seek to emulate.

Agricultural Research for Development: Achievements, Challenges and Priorities

2:00pm, with Prof Andrew Campbell, CEO ACIAR

ACIAR’s 40th anniversary year provides an opportunity to reflect on what we and our partners have learnt from its innovative model of partnership research, the profound challenges we face now, and what this means for agricultural research for development priorities globally.

About the speaker

Professor Andrew Campbell FTSE FAICD is directly responsible to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. As agency head, the CEO manages the administrative and financial affairs of ACIAR and its staff, with direct accountability to the Australian Government for use of Commonwealth resources.

Professor Andrew Campbell joined ACIAR as CEO in 2016, after six years in Darwin at Charles Darwin University. Andrew has played influential roles in sustainable agriculture and natural resource management in Australia for over 30 years, including as the first national Landcare Facilitator. He has a Master of Science (Management of Agricultural Knowledge Systems) from Wageningen University in The Netherlands, a Bachelor of Forest Science (Honours) from the University of Melbourne and a Diploma of Forestry from Creswick. Andrew is an elected Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering, Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors and an honorary Professorial Fellow at the Australian National University.  He represents Australia on the System Council of the CGIAR, is a board member of the Peter Cullen Trust, a Commissioner on the Commission for International Agricultural Research, and is the incoming Chair of the Global Research Alliance on Agricultural Greenhouse Gases. Andrew is still involved (from a distance) in his farm in western Victoria, where his family have been farming since the 1860s.


2020 Assessment of COVID & Food Systems in Asia-Pacific

3.00pm with Prof Robyn Alders, Dr Lisa Robins, & Dr John McCarthy

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the lives and livelihoods of those involved in food production and food systems, and consumers’ access to food. ACIAR supported a study of the impacts of COVID on food systems in the Indo-Pacific; this work was possible only because of established research partnerships between Australia and countries in the region.

About the speakers

Robyn Alders AO is an Honorary Professor with the Development Policy Centre within the Australian National University, a Senior Scientific Advisor with the Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security, Chair of the Kyeema Foundation, an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Infectious Disease and Global Health, School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University and Chair of the Upper Lachlan Branch of the NSW Farmers’ Association.

For over 30 years, she has worked closely with family farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, SE Asia and Australia and as a veterinarian, researcher and colleague, with an emphasis on the development of sustainable infectious disease control in animals in rural areas in support of food and nutrition security.

In May 2002, Robyn was the recipient of the Kesteven Medal, awarded by the Australian Veterinary Association and the Australian College of Veterinary Scientists in recognition of distinguished contributions to international veterinary science in the field of technical and scientific assistance to developing countries.

In January 2011, she was invested as an Officer of the Order of Australia by the Governor General of Australia for distinguished service to veterinary science as a researcher and educator, to the maintenance of food security in developing countries through livestock management and disease control programs. In February 2017, Robyn was the recipient of the Inaugural Mitchell Global Humanitarian Award which recognises Australians and others supported by Australian aid who have made an outstanding contribution to the cause of international development.


Dr Lisa Robins has been an Honorary Senior Lecturer (formerly a Visiting Fellow) at the Australian National University’s Fenner School for Environment and Society since 2009. She has more than 30 years experience working in natural resource management (NRM) as a researcher, science communicator, facilitator and program manager.

In addition to an extensive record of engagement and publishing in Australia, she has worked in the Mekong Region, Indonesia, Canada and the United Kingdom. Lisa holds a PhD on NRM governance and capacity building from the ANU (2005-09), and was awarded a Master of Science in Environmental Change & Management (1994-95) from Oxford University. 


John McCarthy works on questions of governance, institutions and rural development with a focus on forestry, agriculture, food security and land use. He was previously a Research Fellow at the Asia Research Centre, Murdoch University, Western Australia and Leiden University in the Netherlands. He has carried out various assignments with aid and development agencies including AusAID (now DFAT), the World Bank, and the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR). He has also published Land & Development in Indonesia: Searching for the People’s Sovereignty (ISAS), The Oil Palm Complex: Smallholders, Agribusiness and the State in Indonesia and Malaysia (NUS) and The Fourth Circle: A Political Ecology of Sumatra’s Rainforest Frontier (Stanford).

In 2020 John McCarthy was the country lead for Indonesia on the ACIAR project “Assessment of Food System Security, Resilience and Emerging Risks in the Indo-Pacific in the context of COVID-19”.


Upcoming lectures in the series


  • 3 March – Planning and conducting partnership Agricultural Research for Development - Drs Peter Horne & Dan Walker, ACIAR + regional partners (PNG & Pacific)


  • 10 March – Perspectives from the field - Dr Tristan Armstrong, DFAT


  • 15 March (Tuesday, 4-5pm) – Social sciences in Agricultural Research for Development - Dr Clemens Grunbuhel, ACIAR


  • 17 March – Agricultural Research for Development: communication and policy impact - Ms Dulce Simmanivong, ACIAR, Drs Hilary Smith & Soy Mienmany, ANU


  • 24 March – Impact Assessment and Monitoring and Evaluation - Ms Bethany Davies, ACIAR


This series is part of the Partnership Research for Agricultural and Natural Resource-Based Development course offered by the Fenner School of Environment & Society. More information about the course can be found here.