A significant event for the Northern Ireland economy took place recently jointly hosted by the Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) and the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI) alliance.

Speakers at the QUB/AFBI Alliance Stakeholder event included (pictured L-R) Dr Clive Black (Shore Capital), Mrs Tracey Teague (DAERA), Minister Edwin Poots MLA (DAERA), Professor Stuart Elborn (QUB), Dr Elizabeth Magowan (AFBI) and Sir Peter Kendall.

The alliance has a key goal of supporting Northern Ireland’s agriculture, environment and food systems so that they remain innovative and globally competitive in a rapidly changing world.

The event provided an opportunity for DAERA representatives including Minister Edwin Poots MLA, and some of the major players in the agri food industry in Northern Ireland to come together to discuss how best to respond to the growing environmental and climate issues dominating the headlines, with a key focus on partnership working. 

Speaking at the event Professor Stuart Elborn of QUB said:

“The journey towards a transformed food system will require a transformative partnership approach to be adopted between the knowledge base of the Universities, AFBI and CAFRE, DAERA the UFU and other government departments as well as the private sector and many other agencies and organisations throughout society.”

Supporting this position Dr Elizabeth Magowan from AFBI said:

“By working together we have the ability to leverage resources, skills and funding to create a uniquely superior food system in Northern Ireland which has global reach and impact and most importantly of all is sustainable.”

Strategic input throughout the event was provided from key industry and government representatives focusing on the opportunities for Northern Ireland’s food system and the partnerships working to realise these.

Sir Peter Kendall provided a keynote address followed by structured discussions throughout the evening. Mrs Tracey Teague from DAERA and Dr Clive Black from Shore Capital also provided insights from their respective backgrounds during the event.

DAERA Minister Edwin Poots closed the event by saying:

“It is very clear to me that we are facing a generational challenge to change the way we produce food and how we think about food, so we do so in an economic and environmentally sustainable way, and create a sustainable agri-food sector and a healthy society while protecting natural resources for future generations.

This is Green Growth and I am leading on this for the NI Executive. Success in Green Growth will hinge on scientists, industry, society and government all working in partnership together, to identify and then implement the optimal way forward. I commend the QUB/AFBI Alliance for initiating the debate on how we can achieve this.”

Notes to editors: 

AFBI is an arms-length body of DAERA delivering research and development, diagnostic and analytical testing, emergency response capability and expert scientific advice for DAERA and other government departments, public bodies and commercial companies in Northern Ireland, and further afield.

AFBI’s Vision is “Advancing the Local and Global Agri-Food Sectors Through Scientific Excellence”.

AFBI’s core areas:

  • Leading improvements in the agri-food industry;
  • Protecting animal, plant and human health;
  • Enhancing the natural and marine environment.

Queen’s University Belfast belongs to the Russell Group of the UK's most research-intensive universities.

In The Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021, Queen's was ranked in the Top 10% worldwide when measured against six of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

In the highest of these, Queen's scored No 6 (out of 379 institutions globally) for research impact relating to Life Below Water and No 11 (out of 402 institutions globally) for Life On Land.

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