Prof Hettie Schönfeldt appointed as one of 15 global experts to international committee on food security

Posted on April 10, 2024

Professor Hettie C Schönfeldt, a professor in the Department of Animal Science in the Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences (NAS) at the University of Pretoria (UP), was recently appointed to the High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE-FSN) of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). She is the only appointment from South Africa.

Prof Schönfeldt is also an extraordinary lecturer in the School of Health Systems and Public Health and has held a Tier 1 Department of Science and Innovation/National Research Foundation (DSI/NRF) Research Chair (SARChI) in Nutrition and Food Security since July 2018.

When asked how she feels about this prestigious appointment, Prof Schönfeldt said, “The appointment as one of the 15 members of the HLPE-FSN's Steering Committee for the next biennium is a remarkable achievement that shows the high regard in which I am held in the FSN community. It publicly acknowledges and recognises the outstanding and unique contributions I have made in expanding the scientific research base of existing knowledge and crafting new solutions to food composition, nutrition and food security during my career. Furthermore, it underscores my dedication and commitment to advancing nutrition and food security locally, regionally and globally.”

She added, “Recognising the critically important role of nutrition and food security to all agricultural and health sciences sectors, UP has made and continues to make substantial and long-term strategic interventions designed to position itself at the forefront of this rapidly developing frontier field. In striving to achieve high impact, UP encourages exploring local challenges within global and regional 21st-century contexts.”

How are candidates appointed?

Candidates must be internationally recognised experts in food security and nutrition-related fields. Apart from a proven record of publications and a solid background in research management, they should have substantial experience in managing groups or networks of experts and have good communication and interpersonal skills. She was nominated by the South African Department of Science and Innovation.

After the careful selection process of the members of the CFS HLPE Steering Committee by the CFS Bureau, following the recommendations of an Ad Hoc Technical Selection Committee (AHTSC) taking into account both individual and collective criteria, and after a one-month non-objection procedure, Prof Schönfeldt was informed of the CFS Bureau's decision regarding the proposed membership for the HLPE Steering Committee. Her term of office started at the closure of the CFS’s 51st session (23–27 October 2023).

The HLPE-FSN's Steering Committee is important in shaping global food security and nutrition policies. The HLPE-FSN is the United Nations body that assesses the science related to world food security and nutrition.

Prof Schönfeldt advocates for nutrition research, promoting excellence through creating, translating and disseminating science-based information into policies, programmes and training programmes both nationally and internationally. She was a co-director of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA) Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Food Systems. She is an NRF-rated scientist and a principal investigator at the Department of Science and Technology/National Research Foundation Centre of Excellence in Food Security.

Her work has been widely recognised. Recent awards include recognition from the industry in which she was honoured as a Pioneer Woman in Agriculture in March 2024. At the 13th International Food Data Conference in 2019, she received the distinguished Nevin Scrimshaw Award and a shared Success Story Award for the FAO/INFOODS Food Composition Table for Western Africa.

- Author Martie Meyer

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