The future of food - the future of biodiversity?

A major symposium on the global impacts of UK food consumption.

Food production and biodiversity conservation are in conflict.  Join experts and leading voices from farmers' groups, food suppliers, major retailers, conservationists, scientists, NGOs and policy-makers to debate sustainable solutions to the growing challenge of balancing food security and environmental protection.



Programme: PDF icon Programme: The future of food - the future of biodiversity? (514.76 KB)

Call to Action: PDF icon Call to Action: Food, Biodiversity and Wellbeing (246.81 KB)

Twitter hashtag: #FutureofFood2015


Session I: Defining the challenge

Chaired by Professor Tim O'Riordan OBE


Session II: A sustainable approach to food production

Chaired by Sir Brian Heap CBE FRS

Session III: Conserving biodiversity

Chaired by Professor Chris Gilligan CBE


Session IV: The role of suppliers: a case study on palm oil

Chaired by the Earl of Selborne GBE DL FRS

Session V: Changing the conservation around diet - making the connection between healthy eating and biodiversity

Chaired by Lord Haskins

Session VI: The role of the food industry (Sourcing sustainable food: presentations by major food businesses)

Chaired by Professor Tim O'Riordan OBE

Session VII: UK food consumption: the role of British farming in reducing the UK's global carbon footprint

Chaired by Professor Charles Godfray CBE FRS

Session VIII: Providing solutions

Chaired by Sir John Sulston FRS

Open discussion with panellists:

  • Allan Buckwell, Institute for European Environmental Policy
  • Emily Hawkes, John Innes Centre
  • Sharla Halverson, Nestlé
  • Dr Duncan Williamson, WWF-UK

Further information

Food for humans and conservation are in conflict. The challenge for humanity is how is to produce more food for more people on less land and with less environmental impact. Feeding people should not come at the expense of biodiversity. Even if everything remains unchanged, the struggle will be to provide enough food for the human population because of climate change, urbanisation and land degradation.

The number of mouths to feed is expected to have increased in 2050 by two billion.   Demand for improved food quality will also grow as more people move out of poverty.  How can the food demands of a larger global population be met without further loss of biodiversity?  The need for far-sighted action is imperative to ensure that supplies of food for people and animals are to be produced sustainably.

The aim of this symposium is to find ways to avoid these otherwise seemingly inevitable conflicts.  As a major conservation organisation, ZSL is eager to find solutions.

This symposium will bring together conservationists and interested parties who represent all levels of the food-production chain, including scientists, economists, farmers, manufacturers, retailers and consumers. Issues such as achieving greater coordination between conservationists and the producers of crops (e.g. palm oil and soya) applying scientific knowledge to utilise agricultural land more efficiently and the impact of the UK’s global food footprint, will be discussed. Changing consumer behaviour to eating more healthily, and encouraging consumption of edible proteins that can be produced with fewer resources than, for example, grain-fed beef, will also be considered.

What are the strategies that could simultaneously deliver sustainable food supplies and biodiversity conservation?

Solutions cannot be implemented overnight and it will be necessary to use a step-by-step approach to address the issues.  Therefore the focus of this two-day symposium will be on how to transform the conversation about diet, change behaviour and reduce the conflicts between food production, consumption and conservation.

Livestream sponsor:

Intertrust logo

For further information, please contact the Scientific Events Coordinator by contacting Jennifer Howes, or 0207 449 6227.

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