In the face of unprecedented global challenges, the importance of prioritising sustainable and equitable food systems has never been clearer. Last week, an event brought together a distinguished panel of experts and industry leaders in land-based farming to collaborate on innovative solutions that support a healthy planet and population. The event provided a unique opportunity for the exchange of ideas and the fostering of collaboration in transforming our food systems. 

The esteemed panel consisted of individuals who have made significant contributions to the agricultural sector and sustainable farming practices. Their expertise and experiences shed light on the urgent need for food transitions and emphasised the importance of sustainable practices throughout the entire food production, distribution, and consumption chain. 

One of the panelists was Abi Reader, the Deputy President of the National Farmers Union (NFU) CYMRU and a third-generation mixed farmer. With her deep-rooted experience in farming and her active involvement in initiatives like Cows on Tour and Open Farm Sunday, Abi brought practical insights into sustainable farming practices and the importance of connecting with consumers. 

Guy Singh-Watson, a twice-awarded farmer of the year and the founder of Riverford organic farmers, shared his journey as a pioneer in organic vegetable farming. Frustrated with traditional business models, Guy transformed his company into an employee-owned enterprise, demonstrating the potential for alternative approaches to agriculture that prioritize sustainability and the well-being of both farmers and consumers. 

Dr. Tom Powell, a Research Impact Fellow in the Global Systems Institute, provided a valuable perspective from the research realm. With his expertise in ecology, food systems, and regenerative agriculture, Tom focused on finding ways to build sustainable relationships between managed land, the food system, and the Earth system. His work aims to create resilient livelihoods and secure supply chains while minimising the impact on the environment. 

Dr. Virginia Thomas, a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Centre for Rural Policy, offered insights into the intersection of ecological restoration and agriculture. Her research explored how rewilding and species reintroductions could be combined with farming practices to achieve environmental gains while producing high-quality, low-carbon footprint food. Virginia’s work highlights the potential for sustainable land management approaches that allowed for both ecological restoration and continued human management of landscapes. 

The panel discussion revolved around various aspects of food production, distribution, and consumption, emphasising the need for food transitions. Attendees had the opportunity to gain valuable insights into innovative solutions and approaches that support sustainable food systems. The panel discussion lasted for 30 minutes, followed by an engaging Q&A session and informal networking. 

By hosting this event, the Global Systems Institute along with the Debating Society provided a platform for collaboration and knowledge exchange among experts, industry leaders, and aspiring change-makers. The event showcased the importance of collective efforts in transforming our food systems to ensure a sustainable future for generations to come. 

 The event underscored the urgency of revolutionising our food systems and highlighted the role of collaboration and innovation in achieving sustainable and equitable practices. The panellists’ expertise and experiences demonstrated the potential for transformative change within the agricultural sector. It is through events like these that we are inspired to take action and create a roadmap towards a more sustainable and resilient food future.