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Join N8 AgriFood Knowledge Exchange Fellow Dr Rachel Marshall from Lancaster University to explore the health, environmental, social and economic impacts of local food systems.

As part of the launch of N8 AgriFood’s Food Systems Policy Hub, this webinar will consider how local food systems are about much more than just local food. It will explore how our local food systems have far-reaching consequences on our health and the environment, as well as social and economic wellbeing.

Local authorities, businesses and communities have the power to influence the sustainability and fairness of our food systems through their buying power, decision-making processes and community engagement. The talks in this webinar will highlight how N8 AgriFood research is focusing on local action and policy making in order to tackle global problems.

This session will be chaired by Ben Reynolds, Deputy Chief Executive of Sustain – the alliance for better food and farming.

The speakers will consider various aspects of local food systems from the role of institutional procurement to responding to the climate emergency. A focus of the webinar will be to examine the civic role our universities should play in supporting local communities to realise a shared vision for the places we live.

  • Dr Rachel Marshall, Senior Research Associate, Lancaster University – Procuring food for the future: Using public money to grow local social and environmental resilience

Rachel will discuss her work on an N8 AgriFood funded project looking at the role of procurement in growing a more sustainable, local food economy. Drawing on the research conducted in Leeds and Lancaster she will outline recommendations for policy makers, institutions and communities for supporting more innovative and resilient procurement in the future. She will also discuss how this project has grown and developed from words into actions in her local area.

  • Dr Paola Sakai, UKRI Research and Innovation Fellow, University of Leeds – Enabling a climate-resilient food system in Leeds

Paola will focus on how cities can enable a climate-resilient food system. She will share the pathway being taking in Leeds and will show how responding to the challenge of climate resilience, the city can seize opportunities and generate multiple benefits. A key objective of the session is to stimulate increased dialogue towards collaborative strategic planning. She will offer lessons and policy recommendations to create a climate-resilient food system that promotes health, sustainability and food security.

  • James Coe, Senior Policy Advisor, University of Liverpool – The Civic University: Building engagement across policy and community

James will be talking about the work he has been doing to bring policy advice closer to decision makers in the Liverpool City Region. He will discuss how universities can play a central role in tackling pressing local issues, and establishing a stronger civic realm, which in turn bring benefits to staff, students, and the people of the places they are based.

  • Gina Dowding, Lancaster City Councillor, Lancashire County Councillor and former Green MEP for the North West (July 2019 – January 2020) – From policy to practice: How can researchers engage and inform policymakers

About the chair and speakers

Ben Reynolds

Since joining Sustain in 2004, Ben has helped launch the Food Power network and was a founding member of the Sustainable Food Cities network. Most recently he came up with the 50 Fountains Challenge (run in partnership with Refill), born out of the Sugar Smart campaign which he developed with the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation. He worked with Jamie Oliver’s team to get the government to adopt a sugary drinks tax, and set up the award winning Children’s Health Fund which piloted the levy with restaurants.

Between 2004 – 2013, Ben led on Sustain’s London work: editing the free ethical London food magazine The Jellied Eel, shortlisted for a Guild of Food Writers award; running the consultation on the Mayor of London’s Food Strategy; and developing Sustain’s urban agriculture work – coming up with Capital Growth, supported by the Mayor of London, to create 2,012 food growing spaces in London by 2012, and following that the Big Dig, which encourages volunteering on community food gardens around the UK.

Ben is a trustee of the charity School Food Matters, has been a member of the London Food Board, chair of Growing Greenwich, part of the selection panel for the Big Lottery Fund’s local food grants programme and used to run a Farmers’ Market.

Dr Rachel Marshall

Rachel is an N8 AgriFood Knowledge Exchange Fellow who works on connecting citizens, researchers, practitioners and policy makers across multiple aspects of the local food system. Using ESRC Impact funding she is working closely with FoodFutures (North Lancashire’s Sustainable Food Partnership) to create opportunities for knowledge sharing across different communities of practice, which this year have included the first Northern Real Farming Conference and Lancaster District Health Festival. She currently has projects with academics looking at resilience and sustainability in procurement, engaging farming communities with their soil community and building partnership across the local food system.

Dr Paola Sakai

Paola is a UKRI Research and Innovation Fellow with over eight years of experience in climate change adaptation and resilience research in developing and developed contexts. Her work has produced impactful results in cities and SMEs. She specialises in climate vulnerability where she has investigated the synergies between disaster risk reduction, improvements in health and wellbeing, and promotion of inclusive growth. Her work in cities places particular attention on economic assessments of weather-related events, evidence-based collaborative strategic planning and city-to-city cooperation to create resilient cities and food systems; climate finance, climate-compatible development and SDGs.

James Coe

James, is Senior Policy Advisor at the University of Liverpool where he works with the senior leadership team on issues in higher education and wider public policy. His remit covers civic engagement where he has been working with local stakeholders on building back better from COVID-19.

Gina Dowding

Find out more about Gina and the work she does on her website.