New Zealand expertise highlighted at Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Business Forum in Dubai

Government and industry leaders highlighted New Zealand’s expertise in sustainable food systems at Expo 2020’s Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Business Forum, held in Dubai on 21 February 2022.

Part of Expo 2020’s Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Week (17-24 February), the Forum sought to galvanise collective action for a transition to more sustainable food systems in order to feed 10 billion people by 2050.

Over 600 people attended the forum on the day in person at the Dubai Exhibition Centre and virtually via the Expo Live website. New Zealand was selected by Expo 2020 Dubai and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce to co-curate the Forum thanks to its leadership in sustainable food systems, applied science and a proven track record of producing high-value products.

New Zealand’s involvement was led by New Zealand G2G, a joint venture between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade – Manatū Aorere and New Zealand Trade and Enterprise – Te Taurapa Tūhono. New Zealand G2G sells New Zealand’s public sector capabilities to international governments, and has brokered more than 100 projects across 21 countries since 2014.

Alongside New Zealand as a co-curator, the Forum included participants from the UAE, Australia, Bahamas, Brazil, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Estonia, Ghana, Hungary, India, Morocco, Peru, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, the Netherlands, Trinidad and Tobago, Ukraine, the United States of America, Viet Nam, and Zambia.

During a series of panel discussions, lightning talks and fireside chats, delegates discussed the importance of public-private collaborations in the global agricultural ecosystem, effective use of resources for farmers, modern food safety systems, livestock productivity, and the role of technology in solving challenges to global food systems.

A delegation of public- and private-sector experts from New Zealand took part in the forum, including representatives from AbacusBio, AgResearch, the Cawthron Institute, Gallagher Animal Management, Livestock Improvement Corporation, the Ministry for Primary Industries and Plant & Food Research.

  • Volker Kuntzsch, CEO of the Cawthron Institute, joined a panel discussion on “The Future of Food and Agriculture – Feeding 10 Billion People” in conversation with panelists from the UAE, India and Brazil. “With 71 percent of the earth surface covered by ocean, and marine environments being some of the most renewable ecosystems on the planet, we need to look at how we sustainably utilise these areas more effectively to feed 10 billion people,” Kuntzsch commented at the event.

  • Alpha Kennedy, Beachhead Advisor with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, joined a panel discussion on “Collaborative Growth: Public Private Partnership in the Agri Ecosystem”, alongside panelists from Costa Rica and Zambia.

  • Vincent Arbuckle, Deputy Director-General New Zealand Food Safety, MPI, and Dr. Sue Bidrose, CEO of AgResearch, joined a panel discussion on “Made with Care – A Modern Food Safety System” along with Kateryna Onul, Ukraine-based Policy Lead for the World Bank’s IFC Global Food Safety Advisory Program. Their discussion covered system design, underlying science, and capability building and training to deliver and maintain world-class food safety.

  • Dr Suzie Newman, Head – International Development, Plant & Food Research, opened a session on “Effective Use of Resources for Farmers”, also featuring participants from Ghana, Saudi Arabia, Trinidad and Tobago and Viet Nam. Citing Plant & Food Research’s field work with small-hold horticultural farmers in India and Viet Nam, Newman said: “What our collaborations have shown us is sustainable and transformative change is possible for smallhold farmers, but there are many moving parts with applied science, collaboration and trust all required. It’s all about partnership – there is real strength in working together to overcome the big challenges. Doing so can substantially change lives.”

  • Jason Schrier, Market Solutions Manager, Livestock Improvement Corporation, presented to a session on “Tech for Tomorrow” alongside delegates from Australia and the UAE.

  • Sharl Liebergreen, Consultant, AbacusBio, took part in a fireside chat on “Promoting Greater Productivity of Local Livestock” in conversation with Dr. Mamdouh Alsharari, Deputy Director General of the Animal Production General Department at Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture. Dr Lisbeth Jacobs, Global General Manager Animal Management, Gallagher New Zealand, also presented during the session.

Minister of Agriculture and Minister for Trade and Export Growth, Damien O’Connor, joined the forum virtually and delivered special remarks reflecting New Zealand’s role as co-convenor. Minister for Food Safety, Dr. Ayesha Verrall, also delivered a virtual keynote during a Forum session on food safety systems.

Commenting on New Zealand’s lead curation role in the forum, Hon. Damien O’Connor, Minister of Agriculture and Minister for Trade and Export Growth, said:

“It was an honour to bring together such impressive collective intellect from so many nations. We know that we must work together to build more positive, resilient and inclusive food systems for all. To be in balance with nature, not against it.

“Food production is one of the most noble human endeavours. It should enable thriving rural communities and rewarding livelihoods. It should generate social and economic prosperity while maintaining and enhancing the integrity of natural resources.

“We have much to learn from each other, especially from Indigenous communities. New Zealand’s future vision for our food production system is based on the Māori concept of Te Taiao, a deep relationship of respect and reciprocity with the natural world.

“Under a Te Taiao lens, the health of the climate, land, water and living systems comes first. When nature thrives so do our families, communities, and businesses. This is a unifying concept that is relevant to all of us, as experts and leaders with a part to play in shaping food systems to serve current and future generations.

“The takeaway is clear – we must collectively act now, and innovate to sustainably and equitably feed the planet. In doing so we will bring an end to world hunger.”

A recording of the full-day Forum is available online here: Food, Agriculture, and Livelihoods Business Forum | World Expo (