Westminster Food & Nutrition Forum

Since lockdown, we have been organising our full programme of conferences online. We will continue online until further notice, to ensure we play our part in helping our employees and delegates to remain safe during this time. We are pleased that so many key stakeholders, policymakers and other interested parties - both old friends and new delegates - are taking up the opportunity to discuss public policy issues and network at our impartial seminars. New events are coming on to our conference programme all the time. So there are plenty of opportunities for you to join us if you haven’t already, from wherever you are. For booking-related queries, or information on speaking, please email us at info@forumsupport.co.uk or contact us using one of the following numbers: +44 (0)7538736244 / +44 (0)7503591880 / +44 (0)7951044809.
For delegates already booked on, we will send you the online joining instructions (including links, event numbers and passwords) five working days before your conference. If you cannot find these in your inbox please email delegate.relations@forumsupport.co.uk

Net-zero, climate change and the food, drink and agriculture sector

Morning, Wednesday, 23rd June 2021

***Full-scale policy conference taking place online***

This conference focusses on next steps for the food, drink and agriculture sector as it adapts to the impact of climate change - and its role in the drive in policy and business practice towards net-zero emissions.

The discussion takes place in the context of a new agriculture policy landscape and the Government’s wider decarbonisation agenda, as well as changes in public attitudes towards sustainability - and against the backdrop of challenges facing the sector in adjusting to Brexit and recovering from disruption during the pandemic.

Areas for discussion include:

  • priorities for government - options for intervention, investment and support for the food and drink sector as it transitions to net-zero
  • agriculture and farming - areas of focus for reducing emissions, including efficiency and productivity, land management and implementing green manufacturing practices and renewable energy
  • the food and drink sector - strategic priorities and the practicalities of decarbonisation

The agenda

  • Building resilience and delivering environmental protection in the journey to net-zero
  • Key strategic priorities for achieving net-zero farming - productivity, efficiency and land management
  • Delivering the changes to land use required to drive emissions reduction
  • Reducing emissions in the farming sector - adapting to the impact of climate change and the new agriculture policy landscape, harnessing innovation, and minimising disruption to food production
  • Priorities for supporting the food and drink sector as it moves towards net-zero emissions
  • Developing net-zero supply chains and logistics, and learning from other sectors
  • The role of retail in a net-zero food and drink sector and priorities for the sector
  • Decarbonisation in the food and drink sector - implementing greener processes, supporting innovation in technology, and priorities for investment
  • Next steps for implementing pathways to achieve a net-zero food and agriculture sector by 2050

Key areas for discussion:

  • the role of agriculture, food and drink in transition to net-zero - looking at:
    • the potential contribution and challenges as part of the wider policy sustainability agenda
    • key priorities, investment and support that will be required for the sector as part of the upcoming National Net-Zero Strategy
  • progress and next steps:
    • building resilience, and supporting natural recovery and environmental protection in the route map to net-zero
    • just transition, and what is needed from policy to underpin sector adaptation to the challenges of climate change
  • UK agriculture - priority areas for net-zero and examining key enablers for being able to meet targets:
    • policy framework:
      • next steps for the development of a new direct payment system based on public money for public goods and environmental land management
      • strategies for incentives that can support reductions in emissions as well as improved adaptation
    • productivity:
      • the role of innovation in enabling smarter and more precise farming
      • discussing areas such as improving the efficiency of crops and fertilisers, supporting animal health, and adapting animal feed to reduce methane emissions
      • how net-zero food production can be achieved whilst minimising the impact on food production and supply
    • energy usage - ways of driving the use of renewable sources, bioenergy and anaerobic digestion, as well as strategies for collaboration and overcoming barriers to use
    • land use and management:
      • advancing the role of soils in carbon storage, as well as discussion on hedgerows, woodland, peatland and wetland
      • the development so far of environmental land management schemes, and opportunities for sharing and scaling up innovative good practice
      • next steps for driving forward low-carbon farming practices, agro-forestry, peatland restoration and the growth of bioenergy crops
  • the food and drink sector - key issues for decarbonisation:
    • the roles of government and the industry:
      • priorities for government support and intervention - following concerns that the sector will fall short of the net-zero target without support
      • the Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy - assessing its measures, and whether it goes far enough in providing a pathway and appropriate support for the sector
      • developing a realistic approach - striking a balance between aiming to achieve the change required at scale with achievable steps and targets
      • collaboration and leadership - strategies for building strategic alignment across industry, innovators and government
      • funding and investment priorities
    • commercial and customer priorities:
      • developing business models to meet net-zero challenges
      • the role of increased consumer scrutiny and focus on sustainability in driving the development of environmentally-conscious processes and practices
    • towards net-zero manufacturing:
      • preparation - the key actions and support which are required now to manage the sector’s transition towards net-zero
      • strategy - the forward steps for implementing greener manufacturing practices looking at challenges, incentivising compliance and best practice, and learning from other sectors
    • waste reduction - and the latest thinking on building a circular economy and utilising anaerobic digestion
  • supply chains and logistics - latest thinking on:
    • emission reduction within supply chains
    • developing sustainability and efficiency
    • what can learned and applied from approaches taken in other sectors
  • retail and hospitality:
    • assessing long-term planning as supermarkets publish strategies for becoming net-zero
    • priorities for the catering and out of home sector
    • the role of SMEs across the sector and the support they may require to contribute to net-zero targets
  • next steps - immediate actions required to take forward the pathways identified for achieving net-zero in the sector, how to take these from promises to action, and the next steps for driving forward progress

A scan of relevant developments:

  • COP26 - preparation underway for the UK hosting the landmark international conference later this year:
    • with the Government’s commitment to publish a Net-Zero Strategy ahead of the summit
    • Sainsbury’s to sponsor COP26 climate summit in Glasgow - the retailer becoming a principal partner for the summit
  • UK policy:
    • UK becomes first major economy to pass net zero emissions law - the UK’s commitment to become net-zero by 2050
    • the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution - with nature recovery a key element
    • Industrial Decarbonisation Strategy - recently published by BEIS setting out the approach, actions and support for the sector to reduce emissions, attract investment and maintain productivity
    • Agriculture Act - the new policy framework for agriculture following the UK’s exit from the EU, including a direct payment system where farmers are rewarded for public goods
    • the Environment Bill - with targets, standards and regulation for the future following Defra’s 25 Year Environment Plan for improving environment management and protecting nature
    • National Food Strategy - with part one of the review outlining the need for a more sustainable food system and part two expected to outline the ways it can be achieves
  • Achieving Net-Zero: Farming’s 2040 Goal - from the NFU, with:
    • the ambition for the agriculture sector in England and Wales to be net-zero by 2040
    • an approach focussed around improving productivity, land management and the use of renewable energy and wider bioeconomy
  • Decarbonisation of heat across the food and drink manufacturing sector - FDF’s strategy and outline of collaboration and interventions required for the sector to achieve the 2050 net-zero target
  • Land use: Policies for a Net Zero UK - the CCC’s report outlining the approach and actions required in order to achieve the land use transformation required to meet net-zero emission targets
  • Scotland Food & Drink launch new tool to support industry’s net-zero ambitions - Scotland offers support to SMEs to encourage reducing emission without the worry of effecting their profit margins

Policy officials attending:

Our forums are known for attracting strong interest from policymakers and stakeholders. Places have been reserved by parliamentary pass-holders from the House of Commons Library and officials from the BEIS; Defra; the Department for International Trade; DAERA, NI; the Drinking Water Inspectorate; the Food Standards Agency; the Health and Safety Executive; The Food Standards Agency and the Welsh Government.

Overall, we expect speakers and attendees to be a senior and informed group including Members of both Houses of Parliament, senior government and regulatory officials involved in this area of policy, as well as from representatives of the agriculture and food and drink industry - including associations, manufacturers, retailers, and suppliers - local government officials, representatives of the agritech and crop science industries, the energy sector, academics, consultancies, lawyers, finance and investment companies, international attendees, charities and consumer groups, together with reporters from the national and specialist media.

This is a full-scale conference taking place online***

  • full, four-hour programme including comfort breaks - you’ll also get a full recording and transcript to refer back to
  • information-rich discussion involving key policymakers and stakeholders
  • conference materials provided in advance, including speaker biographies
  • speakers presenting via webcam, accompanied by slides if they wish, using the Cisco WebEx professional online conference platform (easy for delegates - we’ll provide full details)
  • opportunities for live delegate questions and comments with all speakers
  • a recording of the addresses, all slides cleared by speakers, and further materials, is made available to all delegates afterwards as a permanent record of the proceedings
  • delegates are able to add their own written comments and articles following the conference, to be distributed to all attendees and more widely
  • networking too - there will be opportunities for delegates to e-meet and interact - we’ll tell you how!

Full information and guidance on how to take part will be sent to delegates before the conference

Keynote Speakers

Lee Rawlinson

Director of Regulated Industry, Environment and Business, Environment Agency

Rt Hon the Lord Deben

Chairman, Committee on Climate Change

Keynote Speakers

Lee Rawlinson

Director of Regulated Industry, Environment and Business, Environment Agency

Emma Piercy

Head of Climate Change & Energy Policy, Food and Drink Federation

Rt Hon the Lord Deben

Chairman, Committee on Climate Change


Baroness Bennett of Manor Castle

Former Leader, Green Party of England and Wales


Vicki Hird

Head of Sustainable Farming Campaign, Sustain

Susan Twining

Chief Land Use Policy Advisor, CLA

Calum Kelly

Agri-Tech Satellite Solutions Architect, Satellite Applications Catapult

Robert Spencer

Director, Sustainable Development, AECOM

Emma Keller

Head of Sustainability, Nestle

John Davies

President, NFU Cymru

Emily Norton

Director, Rural Research, Savills