Address to the Food Revolution dinner

  • Speech, check against delivery
19 September 2016

This evening we can celebrate a new global collaboration that will enhance the lives of people around the world.

We will be adding to the Food Revolution in a partnership between the United States and Australia, between our innovationXchange and USAID's US Global Development Lab, and I'm delighted that Beth Dunford from USAID is here tonight.

When I became the Foreign Minister of Australia responsible for our $4 billion a year aid and overseas development budget, I was frustrated by the fact that while we continued to invest in developing nations in our region, and we had been for decades, in some instances they were going backwards in economic and social terms, notwithstanding enormous amounts of investment of funds.

So I thought we had to do things differently. We can't do what we have always done and yet not make progress.

So we set up the innovationXchange within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. And if you know anything about the civil service, or the public service in Australia, they are risk adverse. And I was tasking our innovationXchange to come up with new ideas, to be innovative and creative and entrepreneurial when it came to getting outcomes from our aid budget investment. So we do things differently. We tap into private sector thinking, we work with aid organisations around the world, we work with non-for profits to come up with new and creative and different ways of solving what have otherwise been intractable aid problems.

Now in our region, in our part of the world, about half the children in countries close to Australia, a first world developed economy, half the children are suffering the effects of under nutrition.

Paradoxically, obesity leading to chronic disease burden is at epidemic levels. For the first time we have a generation has a shorter life span than the previous generation.

This cannot continue.

So, we know that good food leads to good health. That is a simple enough proposition, but we know that it is far more complex than that – the double burden, as Jamie Oliver said.

So as we have done with other intractable problems – we've set up partnerships – in this instance with USAID. And we are throwing out a challenge, backed by some seed capital, to entrepreneurs and innovators and creative thinkers – people around the world - to say give us your ideas, give us your thinking. Tell us what you would do to solve this challenge.

The challenge is: how do we make healthy food more accessible, more nutritious, more sustainable, so that individuals, families, communities, developing nations, can be healthy individuals, families and communities and developing nations?

How can we inspire and encourage people to make choices about healthy food, healthy living?

So we announce tonight LAUNCH Food. This will be an innovation challenge – where we ask you - around the world to give us your ideas. It will be a competitive tender and those winning ideas will be backed by seed funding, with mentoring, with incubator support so we can trial and develop these ideas and if they work we will roll them out across developing nations. If it works in the Pacific, we will roll it out further.

Now we have done it with aquaculture – with a fantastic global challenge on how to make aquaculture more economically and environmentally sustainable. We got 220 brilliant ideas from 40 countries. We narrowed it down to 10 ideas that we are currently implementing. We want to do the same with food.

LAUNCH Food – a partnership with USAID – we will be gathering the best and brightest ideas, putting $5 million into this challenge so that we can come up with ideas that actually be turned into reality and can make a different, a positive difference to lives of people around the world.


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