Imagining a New Normal: JCU Welcomes Food Security Correspondent Thin Lei Win

Thin Lei Win

Thin Lei Win, Food Security Correspondent, Thomson Reuters Foundation by IFPRI (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

John Cabot University Professor and Director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship (IFE) Silvia Pulino welcomed journalist and food security correspondent Thin Lei Win from the Thomson Reuters Foundation on October 7, 2020, for an event called “Imagining a New Normal.” Based in Rome, Thin Lei Win is currently working on the connection between climate change and food systems, and how this affects people around the world.

The online event, which was streamed live, was co-organized by IFE, the Canadian Chamber in Italy, the Italy Reads program, the Grassroots Club, the Business Club, and the JCU Community Service Office. Presented as “the representation of the entrepreneurial mindset and spirit” by Professor Pulino, Win is a Burmese journalist covering food security issues globally. She also follows different environmental issues related to health, food, and business in her native Myanmar.

Pitching on Global Issues
According to Win, the Thomson Reuters Foundation, for which she has been working for 12 years, focuses its attention on three main areas, namely, inclusive economies, human rights, and media freedom. Win deals with the first two areas by investigating the impact that climate change, inequality, lack of property, and similar issues have on more vulnerable people.

Win discussed the idea that we could imagine a ‘new normal’ by re-booting the world we live in. She provided a general picture of some of the big issues that came up at the beginning of 2020, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate change protests, and the episodes of racism and inequality in the United States and Europe. According to Win, “we recently have been focusing too much on prosperity and profits. In other words, we have been forgetting the people that are on the planet. The fact is that we don’t just want to survive but thrive.”

She stated that by looking at environmental and humanitarian issues from a global perspective, in the last six months we have been suffering the consequences of unprecedented wildlife losses. “We are destroying nature for profit,” she added. The exploitation of nature has placed human beings in close contact with animals, and many scientists are worried about diseases that could be transmitted from animals to humans. These diseases are called “zoonotic diseases” and since the first cases of COVID-19 have been detected in a wildlife market in Wuhan, China,  scientists suspect the Coronavirus could be one as well. Win also said that with the increasing deforestation and destruction of natural areas, the chances that humans will contract zoonotic diseases are higher.

Agriculture and Food Production
In addition, Win reported that humans are witnessing the rise of global temperatures and that climate change is playing a detrimental role in agriculture. Despite being affected by climate change, agriculture is a great contributor to global emissions. Win reported that scientists call the relationship between agriculture and climate change “an unhappy marriage.”

To tackle these environmental issues, humans are entrusted with a global mission: making sure that more food is produced without causing further emissions. The goal is to reach ”net-zero,” a point of no carbon emissions.

Behaviors, Planet, and Inequalities
Win discussed the fact that every day most people unconsciously make choices that are not eco-friendly, such as consuming huge amounts of plastic, wasting food, and buying unnecessary clothes.

Regarding the high consumption of meat, Win said that some countries consume more than they need and other countries suffer from nutritional deficiencies caused by the lack of animal-based proteins. Therefore, awareness should come from rich countries in the first place.

According to Win, a first step towards the creation of a ‘new normal’ would be the willingness to become aware of the global impact of our daily environmental choices, which contribute to greenhouse gas emissions that drive climate change.