Collaboration and investment to scale solutions for famers, the food industry, consumers and the environment

As the planet’s population increases, and natural resources are put under ever-more pressure, the agriculture industry faces the central challenge of how to grow more crops efficiently and sustainably.

More money went into funding agricultural technology startups in 2017 than the previous two years combined. Will this surge of agri tech solutions and investments provide answers that consumers and food companies are looking for? What are other solutions that will scale sustainable solutions for feeding future generations?

In this webinar, experts from food giant Mars and technology innovator Indigo Ag, debate how brands can work with their suppliers and farmers to develop sustainable agriculture solutions, and also explore what some of those solutions look like now and will do so in the future.

Panel:

Ashley Allen, climate and land senior manager, Mars

Dr Kevin Kephart, head of industry relations, Indigo Ag

Introduced and moderated by Ian Welsh, Innovation Forum

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A Canadian entrepreneur says he has a product that would enable plastic that’s thrown-away or in landfill to safely biodegrade.

Robert Pocius from Tek Pak Solutions talks with Innovation Forum’s Ian Welsh about how his company is developing alternative plastic materials, initially for the food sector, that completely biodegrade in the environment.

Contrasting with the previous generation of oxo-bio plastics that broke down into dangerous micro-plastics, Pocius says that Tek Pak’s innovative additive enables microbes to degrade the plastic material completely into CO2, methane and inert material. Pocious explains the on-going testing procedures for his products, and why he believes they can offer a solution that can complement reuse and recycling schemes.  

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Roberto Vega, Syngenta’s head smallholder policy and food chain relations, talks with Innovation Forum’s Ian Welsh about the company’s work in the sugarcane sector and more broadly with smallholder famers. They debate the environmental and social pressures, including fluctuating prices that impact on smallholder farmers, and how best to ensure inputs are cost-effective, while keeping their impacts low. Vega argues that the real opportunities going forward, for farmers and their customers, are through developing partnerships, combining the expertise of all to enable the entire value chain to work together for everyone’s benefit.

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Toby Webb meets with Abigail Herron, global head of responsible investment at Aviva Investors, and Clara Melot, SPOTT engagement and impacts manager at ZSL, to discuss how palm oil is rising up the investor agenda in 2018, and how a new guide for investors can be used to engage palm oil companies. Click here to download the new guide https://www.spott.org/news/sustainable-palm-oil-responsible-investment/

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Stephen Brunner, global key relation manager, Bayer explains to Innovation Forum’s Ian Welsh the importance of business partnerships for developing more-sustainable sugar supply. He stresses the importance of product stewardship in lessening environmental impacts and on workers in sugar’s value chain. Brunner also argues the case for working with smallholder and medium-sized farms to develop processes of continuous improvement, and why it’s vital the gains from certification offset the additional costs.

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Companies find themselves having to engage with emerging human rights legislation and how it affect their business.

In this podcast, Laura Okkonen, head of human rights at Nokia, explains to Ian Welsh her company’s strategy on human rights, and how to be effective when planning an approach to tackling a variety of regulation. She highlights the development and implementation of the UN guiding principles on business and human rights as a key changing point, and an effective tool that business can use to identify best practice.

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Top down regulation pressure and a groundswell of litigation is increasing the pressure on companies to do more human rights.

The legal landscapes for businesses regarding human rights are in flux. In this podcast, Michael Quayle, London-based associate at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and Innovation Forum’s Ian Welsh discuss how legislation is driving this change, but why companies also need to consider growing litigation risks and complaints to OECD national contact points.

Quayle outlines the more rigorous reporting requirements that companies are facing. New regulation in France, Australia and elsewhere means that companies are increasingly legally required to not only say more but, importantly, now do more about human rights as well. They discuss why companies are now being held accountable if they don’t properly work towards achieving what they have said they will do.

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While it’s no magic wand, developing blockchains can help supply chain transparency and companies meet no-deforestation targets.

In this podcast Jessica Verhagen, vice-president, business development and strategy, Ecosphere+, talks with Innovation Forum’s Ian Welsh about blockchain and how it can help implement corporate policies on deforestation and develop more sustainable supply chains.

Verhagen explains why, with the processes of transparency and consensus built in, blockchain can maintain transparency and ensure that all stages of the value chain benefit correctly from transactions. She explains why getting the right checks and balances into a blockchain can ensure security for all parties, including around commodity certification, and how blockchain can develop the carbon credits market.

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In this podcast, Glenn Hurowitz, CEO of Mighty Earth, talks with Innovation Forum’s Ian Welsh about his organisation’s work on trying to break the links between agriculture and deforestation.

They discuss the potential for success for the new soy manifesto in South American grasslands – and why soy sourcing has become a key risk for the international beef sector. The rubber sector is a new area of focus for Mighty Earth – Hurowitz argues that as the rubber sector companies have seen the reputational damage that palm oil sector has suffered in the past few years there is potential for NGO pressure to move the sector forward and engage on its deforestation risks. He also says that the recently announced deal on cocoa in west Africa could be a real game-changer for the sector as it brings all the relevant actors together.

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Cutting use of plastic requires smarter design and increasing circularity in waste management processes. 

In this podcast with Ian Welsh, Caroline Reid, project manager strategic sustainable development, Ikea, outlines the company’s plastic use and targets to reduce this. She explains the drivers behind them, including a very-aware customer base and strong momentum from the company’s corporate culture.

Reid argues the case for better recycling and waste management processes that make things easier for consumers to help business develop more closed loop processes for plastic and other materials. She says that prolonging product life is a core way to cut resource use, and their design is key to achieving this, such as making products modular so they can be added to or adapted over time.

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