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Perspectives in Global Development: Fall 2023 Seminar Series


The world is at an interesting crossroads where one cannot deny the rapid strides it has made, some interesting parities that technologies like ICT has brought in bridging the divide between developed and less developed countries while also showcasing some persistent under resolved challenges like poverty and undernutrition. The COVID-19 pandemic, global political conflicts leading to food crisis, and severe climate events have come as a stark reminder of interconnectedness of the world’s countries, its issues, and the need for shared solutions.

This talk will highlight agriculture and food systems as a continued lever for development — as a key source of food and nutrition, livelihoods, economic and social security in many parts of the world. While highlighting some key achievements of agriculture to bridge the gaps, the talk will also focus on the need for transformative and inclusive growth with a focus on two key challenges: COVID-19 and the climate crisis.

The COVID-19 pandemic and associated containment measures have rapidly increased food insecurity – food insecurity grew in 2020 as much as the previous five years combined, and an additional 118 million people faced hunger in 2020 than 2019. Economic shocks caused by the pandemic have pushed nearly 100 million people into poverty, limiting capacity to purchase sufficient nutritious food. There are some powerful lessons for the agriculture sector, both as an employer of a very large portion of economically vulnerable people, and also as the source of food. The talk will highlight some key measures taken and lessons learned in food systems and development efforts.

The talk will also explore the climate crisis — not only its ecological impact but also the resulting economic impact and how it will become one of the key headwinds for development. Climate change is expected to swell global poverty by 130 million people by 2030, hitting first and hardest on small-scale producers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. While agricultural productivity doubled from 1961 to 2015, growth would have been 20% greater globally if not for climate change impacts, a loss equivalent to the last 7 years of productivity gains.

The talk will use real life examples, evidence and perspectives from the speaker’s close association with development sector in Africa and Asia, with a focus on shared solutions rather than further diagnosis of the problems.

About the speaker

Dr. Purvi Mehta is the Deputy Director for Agriculture Development at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where she also leads the Foundation’s climate adaptation programs globally.

She has her formal education, up to PhD, from M.S. University (India), Tokyo University (Japan) and North Carolina State University (USA). Dr. Mehta has worked with the CGIAR, as head of Asia for the International Livestock Research Institute and as head of South Asia Biosafety program (IFPRI, USAID), and brings a blend of Asia and Africa experience. 

She is on the board of several organizations, including International Alliance for Ecology and Health, International Centre for Rural Agriculture, Independent Director on Board of National Commodity Derivatives Exchange Ltd (NCDEX), and World Food Prize. She is an honorary professor at Amity University (India) and visiting faculty at Cornell University (USA). She has been closely associated with several agriculture and nutrition policy platforms in India, South and Southeast Asia, and Africa, and serves on several committees and advisory panels. She has over fifty publications and two books to her credit.

Perspectives in Global Development

The Perspectives in Global Development seminars are held Wednesdays from 12:20-1:20 p.m. eastern time during the semester. The series is presented in a hybrid format with some speakers on campus and others appearing via Zoom. All seminars are shown in Emerson Hall 135. Students, faculty and the general public are welcome to attend. The series is co-sponsored by the Department of Global Development, the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, and the School of Integrative Plant Science as part of courses GDEV 4961, AEM 4961, NTRES 4961, GDEV 6960, AEM 6960, and NTRES 6960. 

Date & Time

September 6, 2023
12:20 pm - 1:20 pm

Headshot of Purvi Mehta

More information about this event.

Contact Information

Mariah Doyle-Stephenson, Administrative Assistant, Global Development

  • md2237 [at]


Department of Global Development

Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management

Natural Resources and the Environment

School of Integrative Plant Science

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