I’ve just rounded off a busy few days by speaking at edie’s conference on responsible procurement and supplier engagement. My talk was in a session entitled ‘driving change through engagement and collaboration’ with the (admittedly laborious!) title of “engaging and encouraging SMEs to collaborate effectively through the value chain” followed by an audience Q&A alongside other speakers from Galliford Try, Travis Perkins and Heathrow Airport. edie’s events are always good value and this one drew a mixed audience from academia and a whole range of industry sectors. I am always encouraged by the openness of sustainability professionals in sharing ideas and experience.
On Thursday I attended an agro-forestry conference at Cranfield University (pictured below) which featured a number of SME livestock farmers plus academics from the UK and around the world. Organised by the Soil Association, Woodland Trust and Royal Forestry Society, the event attracted a wide range of attendees, primarily from the world of agriculture. The case studies were hugely instructive and inspiring; for example Woodland Egg production and the use of shelter belts on a family-run hill farm to reduce mortality rates at lambing time. There was also a great presentation from an arable farmer who has planted trees to combat soil erosion. There seems not to be a definitive view of exactly what constitutes agro-forestry (some of the examples were more about using trees to support agriculture rather than having a real ‘forestry’ component) but excellent nonetheless.
On Wednesday I was part of an invitation-only workshop at the Institute of Engineering and Technology in London looking at future sustainable manufacturing. The event was held under the Chatham House Rule, so I can’t talk too much about it, but there were attendees from some prestigious universities, manufacturers and civil society. The output will be a briefing paper that will be available to inform policy. Watch this space for more when the report is published.
The busy week began last Tuesday at a workshop run by two member institutions of the N8 University group as part of their agri-food initiative (see http://n8agrifood.ac.uk/) looking at how ‘Brexit’ will impact the sector. There are a few more stages to go, but ultimately, this research will also produce a briefing paper aimed at helping policy-makers reflect the views of organisations in and around agriculture and food production in future strategy for the UK for when the Common Agricultural Policy no longer applies to UK farming.