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Cambridge Forum for Sustainability and the Environment


The aim of our topic between October 2014 and June 2015 was to draw connections between food security, biodiversity and bioenergy and think about the research pathways that will help us to prepare for and address the challenges we will face in the future.

During a series of eight meetings, we explored a range of different issues such as food security, land use and land use change, and the demand for natural resources, all against a background of a changing climate.

Forum meetings

Over the course of the year, expert witnesses joined reseachers from 41 University of Cambridge departments, centres and institutes. The witnesses all worked on different aspects of the themes we explored and most of them came from outside Cambridge, including business representatives from Lend Lease and Microsoft Research, policy experts from the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and BirdLife International, the former Director-General of the National Trust and the chief scientist of the Forestry Commission.

By bringing together such a rich mixture of policy- and decision-makers from governments and business, technical experts and researchers as expert witnesses to the meetings, we aimed to derive fresh and innovative perspectives on this area which would then inform the discussion each month.


Each month, the panel of expert witnesses helped to stimulate discussion about different facets of land-use change and natural reseouces and this report highlights key ideas and future research questions generated during our meetings.

Public events

Everyone loves chocolate but what does the future hold? Angus Thirlwell, the CEO and co-founder of Hotel Chocolat, joined Lauranne Gateau, a plant scientist, and Dr Amanda Talhat, a chemical engineer, on an expert panel at the Science Festival in March 2016 to explore how the supply and demand for chocolate may change in the future, from where and how it is grown, to how products are made and who will be eating it.  

More than 220 people came to this event entitled 'From bean to bar: the future of chocolate', which was chaired by Dr Gemma Cranston, the Acting Director of the Natural Resource Security Portfolio at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL). We co-hosted it with the Cambridge Global Food Security Initiative and CamPlants Hub. 

If you would like more information about Forum meetings or these themes and events, please contact Dr Rosamunde Almond (

Chocolate - Hotel Chocolat

Amanda Talhat, one of the speakers at our panel at the 2016 Science Festival, wrote an article about the event and the very sweet future of chocolate.

Read the article