Last night, I was given a great opportunity to meet and have dinner with Ms. Josette Sheeran. She is currently Vice Chairman of the World Economic Forum. She came to Japan to receive the Grand Prize of Niigata International Food Award for her contribution in the food issues.
I met her very briefly at African Forum (I believe) and wanted to spend some time with her talking about global agenda including food security and Africa. Her background includes various assignment at the US Government, including Under-Secretary for Economic, Energy and Agriculture Affairs, at US Department of State. While she served as Executive Director of UN World Food Programme (WFP), the organization has made significant progress in the area of food issues.
As I have been interested in food security issues through my involvement of not only WEF, but also Global Agenda Seminar, Table for Two-non profit organization where I serve as one of the advisers, and my role of non-executive director of Nissin Foods Holdings whose CEO Koki Ando serves as a president of WFP.
Though it was a last minute invitation and rather late dinner (as she was coming back from Niigata before she left for Europe this morning), I jumped on the opportunity. Other members at the dinner included Mr. Kaji, in charge of international public relations at the Japanese government, Mr.Hori of Globis, Mr. Kogure of Table for Two, as well as Mr. Mohamed Saleheen, Director, WFP Korea & Japan Relations, and Mr. Tsuchiya of Japan Office, WEF.
The discussion covered broad areas including the significant contribution of Japanese government to add food issues to the G8 agenda (I believe in 2008), great potential of food related technology of the Japanese companies to resolve the world food issues, and variety of ways that the Japanese companies could contribute and do profitable business in Africa among others. She was very interested in the status and prospect of Japan, in particular, entrepreneurship. We also talked about Grow Africa, one of WEF initiatives and the state of some countries in Africa.
It was such an interesting and inspiring discussion we almost forgot about time (thus was quite late by the time we were finished.) I was very impressed with her own stories of her first visit in Japan many years ago and her warm support to Japan overall.
Meeting with world leaders and talking with them together with the Japanese young people (younger than me, I mean) is always exciting. I get so inspired and so encouraged by many initiatives. It was the evening to remember for me.