The latest news from the world of sustainability, the latest views from the brains behind Best Foot Forward
Blog by Richard Sheane, Senior Consultant, 25 September 2012
Next week I am taking the slow ferry to Brittany to mix with life cycle assessment practitioners and businesses on the forefront of research into the application of methodologies, tools and databases in the agri-food sector.
The 8th International Conference on Life Cycle Assessment in the Agri-Food Sector has the sub-title ‘Towards Sustainable Food Systems’ – and, as the name hints, I am most looking forward to learning more about how others are applying life cycle approaches (which can be dry and complex) in real-world situations that deliver tangible environmental and business benefits. (Although the sessions on Monte Carlo uncertainty modelling appeal to the footprinting nerd in me, I am going to give them a miss).
The packed programme of keynotes, plenaries and almost 200 posters reflects the rapid rise in popularity of food sustainability assessment in recent years. And the list of those presenting and organising this global gathering reads like a bibliography from one of our project reports – names such as Cederberg, Jungbluth, Milà i Canals, Nemecek & Sonesson. In short, it promises to be a really fascinating three days and a great opportunity to share ideas over the occasional glass of cider and plate of seafood.
And looking at the programme I’m going to have to make some very hard choices between parallel sessions, however three broad topic areas have piqued my interest: labelling/consumer communications; land use/land use change and water footprinting.
The problem of how and whether to communicate product environmental performance to consumers still needs solving. Talks to watch out for at the conference include the experiences of Chilean and French retailers’ attempts to scale quantification and environmental labelling of products. Also presenting is the Italian food company Barilla – they have really gone for Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) in a big way. Although not that popular in the UK, the EPD model is an interesting one and certainly has its advantages.
Land use and land use change are two critical elements of food sustainability in my view – the former is of interest because of Best Foot Forward’s historic interest in the Ecological Footprint metric, the latter because it is an extremely significant source of food and drink supply chain CO2emissions and biodiversity impact. In one session researchers from the University of Groningen are presenting findings of a study into the land requirements for food in the Netherlands over the past 200 years.
The last of my three topic areas is water footprinting – an issue which continues to rise up the agenda of our clients and one which we are championing through our ‘Join the drops’ campaign. Presenters from New Zealand, Italy and France are sharing their experiences of water footprinting of strawberries, milk and pastoral systems. I will be on the lookout for how they are integrating water with other sustainability metrics – and where any synergies or tensions exist.
Over the three days I will be blogging and tweeting from the event – trying to capture the mood and themes that emerge. If you are attending the event and would like to meet over a coffee then contact me via Twitter, LinkedIn, or email.
You can comment on this blogpost at 2 degrees.
© 2013 Best Foot Forward Limited.The Future Centre, 9
Newtec Place, Magdalen Road, Oxford OX4 1RE, United Kingdom. Best Foot Forward Limited is a company registered in
England and Wales with comp any number 3409491. VAT number 685888061.
RSS feed Subscribe to our newsletter Tel: +44 (0) 1865 250818 mail@ bestfootforward.com