The role of food in a sustainable future: Report
The role of food in a sustainable future, held on October 21st, 2021, was the first in a series of IBN events exploring sustainability and resilience. This expert panel event was moderated by Geraldine O’ Grady, former Co-President of the IBN and Head of Sustainability, Taste & Wellbeing at Givaudan.
Our guest speakers were Deirdre Ryan, Director of Origin Green, Sustainability and Quality Assurance programme at An Bord Bia, and Laura Robinson, founder of Pink Pear Agency, a network of communications experts specialised in food, healthcare and sustainability.
We were honoured that Ambassador of Ireland to Switzerland, Eamon Hickey, opened the event with a welcome address. Ambassador Hickey reflected on the current COVID situation in Ireland and Switzerland, the realities of BREXIT and gave an update on EU/ Swiss trade negotiations. Our members greatly appreciated hearing his expert perspective on these matters.
Deirdre gave an intro to the Origin Green programme that is central to maintaining and growing Ireland’s reputation as a sustainable food producer, working with farmers and buyers to raise the bar for Irish farming and contributing to Ireland’s overall climate action plan. Laura reflected on how the food we eat is so influenced by our cultures and traditions. She highlighted how recent science, such as the EAT-Lancet report, has really quantified the impacts of the global food system. There is clear scientific consensus on the challenges inherent to the global food system, from intensification of agriculture to overuse of pesticides and the increasing greenhouse gas emissions incurred by agriculture – especially the production of animal-based products.
There was an engaging panel discussion with further reflections from Deirdre and Laura, who took questions from the audience. We discussed topics the opportunities to replicate the Origin Green model in other countries; the management of the Irish National Herd size; the value of regenerative farming practises, the importance of avoiding food waste (and the fantastic recent Earthshot award by the city of Milan for a food waste programme); how we can all be more mindful about type of food we eat and how it has been produced; and the transition to more plant-based diets.
Many thanks to all who joined us on the evening. We really just scratched the surface of a fascinating, multi-faceted and very topical subject. We received a lot of positive feedback from members during and after the session, with many saying it was eye-opening and how they really appreciated the speakers and the conversation.