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Speaking at the Global Sustainability Forum in Dublin’s Convention Centre this morning, Minister Simon Coveney TD stated his ambition that Ireland should be the global leader in sustainable food production.
The Sustainability Forum, hosted by Bord Bia in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Sustainable Agriculture Initiative (SAI), brings together some of the world’s leading sustainability experts, together with policy makers and senior food industry representatives, to discuss sustainable food production.
“I want to congratulate Bord Bia for their foresight in bringing together leading experts and influencers to address one of the greatest challenges facing us today: how to feed the world, while protecting the planet”,  Minister Coveney remarked. “I am confident that the lessons and collaborative approach from this Forum will help to inform future policy decisions by Governments; as well as the practical choices faced by farmers and food businesses of all sizes, from artisan producers to multi-national businesses”.
Minister Coveney outlined the natural advantages Ireland has in terms of farming in an environmentally friendly way, but also the challenges to be faced in terms of addressing agricultural emissions and preserving the natural environment. He summarised the many innovative measures already being implemented by his Department and its agencies to improve carbon efficiency, reduce and mitigate emissions, and protect water quality and biodiversity.*
Sustainability is key to our new Food Wise strategy for the development of the sector over the next decade”, Minister Coveney emphasised. “I strongly agree with the guiding principle of Food Wise:  that environmental protection and economic competitiveness should be considered as equal and complementary: one will not be achieved at the expense of the other”.
Minister Coveney chairs the Food Wise High Level Implementation Committee, which will drive the strategy forward, including a strong emphasis on evaluation and assessment of the sustainability and mitigation recommendations, and informed by the final recommendations of the Environmental Analysis (to be published shortly) which was carried out in parallel with the Food Wise process.
Note for editors:
*Some current actions on sustainability by DAFM and State Agencies, including Teagasc and Bord Bia:
·         Bord Bia’s Origin Green initiative.
·         The Carbon Navigator tool, which enables farmers to focus on improving both their economic and their environmental efficiency.
·         The Pasture Profit Index, which compares the economic benefits of various grassland production systems.
·         Animal health improvements which contribute to reducing carbon emissions per unit of output produced.
·         The Agricultural Catchments Programme, monitoring and researching water quality across relatively intensely farmed areas.
DAFM’s Rural Development Programme, worth almost €4 billion over 7 years, is also strongly targeted towards environmental benefits, including:
·         The agri-environmental scheme (GLAS) which includes specific measures to help mitigate the effects of climate change and improve biodiversity;
·         Grant aid for low emission slurry spreading equipment;
·         The Beef Data and Genomics Programme, which will improve the economic and environmental sustainability of beef production;
·         Knowledge transfer programmes, which will bring the latest innovative sustainability research and practices direct to farmers.{jcomments on}

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