QAAFI's Professor Neena Mitter will speak at SRI2021 in the session 'New technologies for sustainable food, water and energy: opportunities, limitations and risks

Monday, 14 June 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM AEST

Enabling technologies will be critical to meet increasing food, water and energy demands of a population estimated at 9.8 billion by 2050, whilst operating within safe planetary boundaries under a changing climate. Just some of the many ways new technologies can be used to address these challenges include: - data-driven satellite crop monitoring systems to intensify food production with less land, water and fertiliser; - nanotechnology to deliver safer, chemical-free pesticides to minimise crop losses and disease; - synthetic biology to design efficient microbial cell factories for industrial bio-production of renewable fuels; and - blockchain coupled with AI-systems to track and reduce food waste – from farm gate to plate – throughout the supply chain. Yet the rapid pace and scale of technological change that we see today also creates unprecedented challenges for governments and society – both to manage the potential risks they pose and to capitalise on the benefits they can bring about. Lessons from the past have taught us--if anything--that improvements from innovation can also be met with unintended perverse outcomes and third party impacts. This session brings together a unique panel of research, policy and industry experts – all with knowledge of the opportunities, limitations and risks of new technologies and innovations – but trained in disciplines in the humanities and sciences ranging from history, sociology, political science and economics to molecular biology and engineering. The scope and diversity of perspectives will set the scene for an engaging debate from the audience and live polling in order to develop a coherent cost-benefit analysis of these technologies and a set of actions that could be undertaken to ensure they are managed in such a way as to provide the best possible outcomes to society.

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Professor Neena Mitter
Centre Director, Centre for Horticultural Science, Queensland Alliance for Agriculture and Food Innovation

Professor Neena Mitter has been involved in molecular biology and biotechnology in Australia and India for over 20 years. Her scientific journey began as an agricultural scientist in India, where she learned first-hand the significance of agriculture in shaping the world, economically, socially, environmentally and politically. Her innovations creating change by research at UQ, namely 'BioClay for crop protection''Nanovaccines for animal health', and "Clonal propagation of avocado using plant stem cells" are ground breaking platform technologies impacting agricultural production, environmental sustainability and socio-economic dynamics of farming community. She is at the forefront of increasing UQ's international presence, to support global collaborations in priority geographies, particularly India. With increased scrutiny on use of chemicals as crop and animal disease control agents; she is focused on developing clean technologies for the horticulture of tomorrow.

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Sustainability Research & Innovation Congress 2021

June 12-15, 2021 | Online and onsite in Brisbane, Australia

The Sustainability Research & Innovation Congress 2021 (SRI2021) is the world’s first transdisciplinary gathering in sustainability – it will be a space of fierce advocacy for sustainability scholarship, innovation, collaboration and action.

This annual event unites global sustainability leaders, experts, industry and innovators to inspire action and promote a sustainability transformation. For the first time, the Congress will launch as a live virtual event with a diverse and innovative online program. In addition to the 100+ sessions available throughout the day and night, thanks to the global reach of SRI and partners, the SRI2021 Online Package includes workshops, training and more. 

Are you in Brisbane? Escape the Zoom box and join us onsite at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre for social events, watch parties, collaboration space, 


SRI is a joint initiative of Future Earth and the Belmont Forum. Australia, who hosts the Congress in 2021, has a unique role to play in the global community as a conduit between the Global North and the Global South, indigenous peoples and traditional sustainability practices. The local hosting consortium, led by Future Earth Australia and CSIRO, features academia and government partners from Brisbane and the State of Queensland to meet the breadth of the SRI2021 agenda.