Below are summaries of the parallel sessions that will take place during the conference. When you register you can indicate which sessions you may like to attend.
As the programme develops we will add more information on the sessions, confirming speakers and further content.
Click on the title of the session to see speaker biographies.
1. Embedding soil stewardship in agri-food systems
Healthy and sustainable soils are indispensable to the future of both food production and broader human and ecosystem health. This session brings together natural and social scientists, policy specialists, and industry representatives to discuss pathways for embedding soil stewardship in agri-food systems to ensure soil health.
2. The role of social enterprise hybrids in delivering inclusive resilient supply chains
This session will focus on the growing interest in both inclusive value chain development (IVCD) and the role of social enterprises in agrifood value chains. Despite smallholder farmers playing an important role in global food production, the value retained by them in agrifood supply chains has declined over the last 20 years making them increasingly vulnerable. This N8 Agrifood conference session will make a new contribution by showing that hybrid business models in the form of social enterprises provide novel approaches to profit distribution and investment, power and governance and purpose to deliver Sustainable Development Goals for smallholder farmers. Hybrids are able to meet the challenges identified in the IVCD literature to support smallholders in accessing both credit and markets via premium segments, coupled with addressing power imbalances via novel approaches to governance and capacity building by incorporating empowerment into their purpose. Moreover, we offer new insights into how hybrids manage resulting trade-offs and create opportunities for symbiosis in IVCD.
3. Voluntary food standards: issues, opportunities and implications for the Global food system
Voluntary food standards emerged in the last 20 years to manage food safety risks along the supply chain, to improve supply chain coordination or as basis for quality assurance schemes. There is now a variety of private and public voluntary standards in food value chains. There are business to business private standards (for example GlobalGAP or BRC) and business to consumer standards developed by governmental (organic foods), non-governmental organizations (such as the Fair Trade or the Rain Forest Alliance standards) and private standards (for example Leaf or Red Tractor). Standards increasingly have a global reach, are the basis for contracts and procurement. This session aims to discuss the role of standards in the coordination of global supply chains as well as their merits and limitations in delivering value for consumers while promoting more sustainable production and processing practices. This session will showcase findings from projects lead by N8 institutions and identify the main knowledge gaps faced by government, non-governmental agencies and the private sector.
4. Linking urban agriculture with food system research and practice
Urban areas present growing challenges and opportunities for our food system. Urban expansion globally is reducing our agricultural land resource, increasing pressures to produce more from less, and cities can be hotspots for food inequality and poor dietary health. Research, innovation and entrepreneurship, drawing upon social, technological and market knowledge streams, are underpinning a marked expansion in urban agriculture. This N8 Agrifood session aims to help join up the research base across urban food systems: from urban agriculture, vertical growing and urban agro-ecology, to localising and securing supply chains and transforming urban food business models, to urban food deserts, social prescribing and health.
5. Land use, ecosystems services and natural capital
This session will consider how current and future changes in land use and management are likely to interact with stocks and flows of natural capital and ecosystem services. Smallholder agriculture and large agribusinesses alike are increasingly having to adapt to a range of climate and other environmental changes, combined with socio-cultural and political change. We will discuss how to enhance the sustainability and resilience of land use, ranging from coping strategies to transformation of the land use system, to protecting natural capital and the flow of benefits that society needs from nature, including access to safe, affordable and nutritious food, climate mitigation and cultural services. It will showcase and critically discuss social and technical innovation at the intersection between agricultural technology and environmental governance across a range of agroecological and social settings, from the UK to low and middle-income countries. This will include interdisciplinary research and disciplinary perspectives from across the physical, natural, social sciences, economics, arts and humanities, alongside industry and other applications
6. Food justice, food insecurity and hunger
This session will cover the issues of food insecurity and food justice in the UK from multiple angles, it will address the link between socio economic status, mental health and food choices, as well as initiate discussion around current policies and if they are addressing the core problems of insecurity faced by the UK public.
7. Sustainable food cities
This session will focus on the breadth of challenges which cities are facing when striving to improve the sustainability and health of their food systems. Making changes which will increase the economic, environmental and social sustainability, whilst also reducing diet-related health problems, requires collaboration between public, commercial, voluntary and academic sectors, and requires a full understanding of the antagonistic or synergistic nature of these various objectives. This N8 AgriFood conference session will present stakeholder perspectives on collaborative solutions, in addition to presenting new insights from N8 AgriFood researchers into how the city food systems in the North are currently changing, and will finish with a panel discussion on how local initiatives can be scaled-up across the region.
8. A ‘Brexit Dividend?’: Re-imagining UK food and farming policy after the Common Agricultural Policy
There appears to be something close to a national (elite) consensus on the desirability of leaving the EU’s regulatory orbit, specifically that governing the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), so as to reclaim and re-design the UK food regime from scratch. On closer inspection, however, it is easy to detect a tension between the competing logics of using Brexit as an opportunity to position the UK as a ‘world-leader’ in sustainable farming, animal welfare and environmental stewardship versus using it to pursue a free trade agenda and further a ‘cheap food’ policy under the guise of ‘Global Britain’. In this panel, we will explore the prospects and possibilities for transforming the UK food system in a post-EU context. Panellists will be invited to examine the UK’stwo flagship initiatives – the Agricultural Bill and the 25 Year Environment Plan – and their potential role in transforming UK food systems. They will also be asked to speak to the expected consequences of Brexit for UK food security and the extent to which these consequences can be compensated for through new trade deals – but in the challenging circumstances marked by the escalating US-China ‘trade war’ and the fragmentation of the global trading system. The panel will explore wider questions of overall food and farming policy coherence in addressing, at the same time, competing public policy priorities including food poverty, overweight/obesity and, most urgent of all, environmental sustainability.
9. Smart agriculture, supply chain resilience and new technologies: Industry 4.0
This session will focus on the applications of novel technologies across agri-food systems – from field to fork and role they play in decision-making. What makes a technology successful and how can we bridge the barriers to uptake? This session will bring together innovators, end-users and systems thinkers to consider what a smarter, more resilient food future looks like and how we get there.