Julia Laidlaw is a food security professional and researcher. In her most recent role (2017 to 2018), she led the Cities Programme’s research engagement, capacity building and Urban Scholars program – linking expertise into the Programme’s partnered urban capacity development projects and to member city needs.
Julia has a Bachelor of Arts (International Community Development and Spanish) and has lived and worked in Latin America and Vanuatu for a number of years and speaks fluent Spanish and Bislama.
Julia is focused on building fair food systems and integration of food cultivation into the urban environment and lifestyle. In 2012 she undertook research into international growth and applications of urban aquaponics. This research was inspired and informed by the Cities Programme Innovating City Milwaukee aquaponics project, Sweet Water Organics. Julia travelled to Milwaukee in September 2012 with the support of The Water Council and the City of Milwaukee.
In July 2013, Julia presented on this research at the International Sustainable Development Research Council (ISDRC) 19th Conference in Cape Town, South Africa. She also developed an academic paper from her research – Towards Urban Food Sovereignty: The Trials and Tribulations of Community-based Aquaponics Enterprises in Milwaukee and Melbourne – which was published in the high ranked Local Environment journal in 2014.
Her interest in building urban food networks, in Australia and internationally, and working to develop an issue platform and tools for the Cities Programme on fair food systems and urban agriculture. In April 2014, Julia developed and led a networking session – Fair Food Systems and Networks in Australia with International Perspectives – at the World Urban Forum 7 in Medellín, Colombia.
In 2014, Julia commenced work with communities in the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu, as a Food Security Officer with the Vanuatu Department of Agriculture and Rural Development on the island of Tanna. Following the devastating category 5 tropical Cyclone Pam in March 2015, Julia worked briefly with the World Food Program facilitating emergancy food distributions at the TAFEA Emergency Operations Centre. He role later evolved to one of post-disaster recovery and rebuilding, contributing to the provincial agricultural recovery strategy and working for CARE International as a Food Security Technical Advisor in the TAFEA province.
In 2016 Julia returned to Australia working as a consultant undertaking research with Wyndham food producers for the Community Food Hub Study and the Cardinia Food Systems Background Mapping Report during the prelimiary stages of the Cardinia Food Circles Project. In November 2016 Julia co-ordinated the inaugural Urban Agriculture Forum held in Melbourne and hosted by Sustain: The Australian Food network and Melbourne University Burnley Campus. She is currently completing a Masters in Agroecology through the University of Cordoba in Spain.