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Game-changing conference serves up food systems solutions

News Section Icon Published 12/05/2023

Our ground-breaking Extinction or Regeneration Conference, organised with IPES-Food and other partners , shone a spotlight on our broken food system and saw experts from across the globe share practical solutions to fix it.

The two-day international conference, which took place from 11-12 May, saw the world’s leading thinkers – from fields including climate science, animal welfare, finance, regenerative farming and food policy – gather to discuss better ways of producing our food to ensure we head towards regeneration rather than extinction.

Our current food system is damaging our health, causing immense cruelty to billions of animals, and killing our planet. More than a third of the food we produce is lost or wasted yet nearly one in ten people around the world do not have enough to eat.

Sharing ideas, solutions, and best practice

The event featured a dynamic schedule of talks and interactive sessions, as well as roundtables and networking opportunities, with around 700 delegates joining either in person or online from 37 countries around the world.

More than 200,000 people also watched the conference in China where it was live-streamed on several official government website.

Speakers included activists Vandana Shiva and Raj Patel, writer and former UK food ‘Tzar’ Henry Dimbleby, the UN’s Stefanos Fotiou, Peter Elwin of Planet Tracker and the UN’s Olivier De Schutter and Corinna Hawkes, Waitrose Executive Director James Bailey plus dozens of other environmental, food policy, public health, food industry and animal welfare experts.

Vital topics, such as the need to reduce our overconsumption of meat and other animal-sourced foods; the role businesses and investments can play in a sustainable food system; and what agroecological and regenerative food systems can mean for the planet, were the basis of lively and fruitful discussions.

Speakers also highlighted important examples of how regenerative and sustainable solutions are working across farming, business and policy, including:

  • Rune-Christoffer Dragsdahl of the Danish Vegetarian Society shared how Denmark is leading the way in setting national dietary guidelines urging people to eat a more plant-rich diet, including less meat and more legumes.
  • Sustainable Procurement Manager of contract caterer Compass Group, Rachel Eyres, emphasised that including more plant-forward dishes in their service had improved the company’s versatility and enabled agile supply chains.
  • Waitrose Executive Director, James Bailey told the audience that what’s needed is disruptive thinking and collaboration with industry to bring consumers on the journey towards more regenerative food production.
  • Susan Chomba, Director of Viable Landscapes for Africa at the World Resources Institute, promoted farmer-managed natural regeneration and successful regreening in Africa. She said: “For African contexts, farmers know the resilience of indigenous crops. But we have become blind in terms of prioritizing them."

Change for a better future 

Our Global CEO, Philip Lymbery, gave one of the keynote speeches at the conference, warning that the clock is now ticking on the choice now facing humanity – whether we head towards extinction or regeneration. As the conference drew to a close he said: “Conferences have the power to shift narratives and this one has brought together the best minds to create a regenerative future for people and planet.

“We have heard beautiful and compassionate examples of regeneration and forged new friendships and alliances to move forwards together to secure a healthy future for animals, people and planet, before it’s too late.”

Following this successful event, we will be working with our conference partners to progress these solutions through a series of webinars. We will collaborate with experts, governments, and businesses across all relevant sectors to develop the ideas shared into practical policy solutions that can create a global food system that works for human, animal and planetary health.

Contact our Food Business team if you would like to discuss opportunities for creating more sustainable, versatile and resilient food supply chains. 


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