June 02, 2015

Yara CEO joins food debate at EAT Forum

“Getting it right on food is the key challenge” – this was the introductory statement by Professor Johan Rockström, who co-hosted this year’s EAT forum. The challenge of sustainably feeding 9 billion people in the future was the main focus of the event. Yara’s CEO proposed some solutions.
Yara CEO at EAT Stockholm Food Forum
Yara CEO at EAT Stockholm Food Forum

In its second year, the EAT Stockholm Food Forum has gained a firm foothold among key stakeholders engaged in global dialogues on healthy diets, food security and sustainable food production. Royalty, academics, heads of state as well as societal and business leaders gathered in Stockholm, Sweden, on June 1-2 in search of solutions.

Yara’s CEO Torgeir Kvidal joined Dame Ellen MacArthur (Ellen MacArthur Foundation), Lee Howell (World Economic Forum) and Jon Hindar (Cermaq, Global Salmon Initiative) in a panel discussion on circular economy – a concept that refers to an economic system that is restorative by design, and which aims to keep products, components and materials.

Dame MacArthur challenged her co-panelists to respond to her call for the recycling of nutrients. “What if we collect all human, food and animal waste and feed the nutrients back into the cycle – getting those nutrients back from the cities into the agricultural system is a huge opportunity,” she said.

Yara’s Torgeir Kvidal responded by urging for a balanced approach, pointing to the adverse environmental consequences associated with manure recycling and highlighting the need to better inform farmers on the correct use of nutrients.

“While it is obviously a good idea to recycle manure, we need to keep in mind that the greenhouse gas emissions associated with manure out-scale those of the entire fertilizer industry. What we need to improve is the way we deliver nutrients, which is why an increasing part of our business is about training the farmers and agro-dealers and provide the best possible advice,” said Kvidal. “The starting point for the farmer has to be the recycling of the nutrients that are available on the farm, and then use mineral fertilizers to optimize yields,” he added.

Getting it right on food

The panel was moderated by Professor Johan Rockström, who was also co-hosting the event. In his opening speech he pointed at how he finds agriculture to be the single largest contributor to several of the major risks humankind is facing.

“If we get it right on food, we get it right for both people and the planet,” said Rockström, who is a professor in Environmental Science with emphasis on water resources and global sustainability at Stockholm University, and the Executive Director of Stockholm Resilience Centre.

EAT founder and leader Dr. Gunhild Stordalen urged the audience to take action.

“Knowledge alone is not sufficient to change current dietary patterns and food production practices. We must challenge existing business models all along the value chain,” she said.

This second annual EAT Stockholm Food Forum gave stakeholders in food, health and sustainability an opportunity to discuss the food roadmap to 2050, including specific goals and guidelines.