World Leading Scientist, Professor Maggie Gill delivers Annual George Scott Robertson Lecture

Date published: 02 December 2021

Area of Expertise:

The annual George Scott Robertson Memorial Lecture was held recently (virtually) at Queen’s University Belfast.

Pictured (L-R) Mr Norman Fulton (DAERA), Mr Victor Chestnutt (UFU), Professor Maggie Gill (Guest Speaker), Dr Elizabeth Magowan (AFBI) and Professor Nigel Scollan (IGFS, QUB)

The lecture ‘Delivering Change in the Agri-Food Sector – Learning from Each Other’, delivered by Professor Maggie Gill OBE, FRSE, Emeritus Professor in the School of Biology, University of Aberdeen, reflected on the outcomes of COP26 and recent strategic developments underpinning the future direction of the Northern Ireland agri-food ecosystem.

Professor Nigel Scollan, Director of the Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) at Queen's University Belfast, said: "Professor Maggie Gill is one of the most distinguished thought leaders in the UK in the area of sustainability in agriculture and food systems. 

Professor Maggie Gill OBE, FRSE
She is a strong advocate for bringing science and policy closer together and has extensive experience of working with governments to further the UN Sustainable Development Goals. I very much enjoyed hearing her insights on where we are on the roadmap to net zero, especially in the light of COP26."

The annual lecture, which is jointly hosted by IGFS, AFBI; the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA), commemorates the work of Dr George Scott Robertson, who played a key role in promoting agricultural progress in Northern Ireland in the first half of the 20th century.

Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) president Victor Chestnutt said: “The UFU were delighted to be involved in the George Scott Robertson Memorial Lecture once again. We enjoyed hearing Professor Maggie Gill, reflect on the outcomes of COP26 and the recent strategic developments underpinning the future direction of the Northern Ireland (NI) agri-food ecosystem. We’re expecting to see a period of change in NI over the next few years with the recent announcement of the Green Growth Strategy and the pending consultation on a future agri policy.  It was interesting to hear her thoughts on the direction future policy will take.”

Dr Elizabeth Magowan from AFBI commented: “The title of this year’s lecture hints at the need for an integrated approach between science, agricultural and government to take us into a sustainable future. This is a pivotal time for many in the agri sector and we were delighted, along with our co-hosts, to have been able to offer this opportunity to hear from one of the most respected scientists working in this area today.”

The lecture can be viewed on YouTube

Notes to editors: 

Professor Maggie Gill, OBE, FRSE

Professor Maggie Gill, OBE, FRSE is an emeritus professor in the School of Biology, University of Aberdeen. From 2014 to 2019 Maggie was Chair of the Independent Science and Partnership Council of the CGIAR (a consortium of international agricultural research centres). She currently chairs an EU Think Tank for the project Fit4Food 2030 and the Science Advisory Panel of the New Zealand Government’s Our Land and Water National Challenge. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Society of Biology and the Royal Scottish Geographical Society.

Maggie was Chief Scientific Advisor for the Environment and Rural Affairs in the Scottish Government from 2006 to 2011, after serving as CEO and Research Director of the Macaulay Institute (one of the predecessors of the James Hutton Institute). She went to the Macaulay after four years as CEO of Natural Resources International Ltd, a company owned by four universities which was spun out of the privatisation of the Natural Resources Institute (originally part of the UK Government Overseas Development Administration).

Maggie (an agricultural science graduate of Edinburgh University), has been a researcher (initially in animal nutrition), managed research programmes and advised governments on research, broadening her expertise to the interactions between food systems, society and the environment. She is passionate about bringing the policy and science communities closer together to help accelerate the use of knowledge in helping to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.

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