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‘Circular agrifood systems in Ireland’ Chapter contribution by the Circular Bioeconomy Research Group at MTU to DAFM & Climate KIC report

Ireland wants to become a world leader in Sustainable Food Systems over the next decade—a transition that will require significant transformation. The agrifood sector is Ireland’s oldest and largest indigenous industry. It is a substantial employer and contributor to the economy — employing over 170,400 people (7.1% of total employment) — and is deeply ingrained in Irish society and culture. Ireland also prides itself on its green, family farm image and a reputation of selling high-quality, sustainable produce. This image is a powerful part of the Irish Food and Drink Brand and contributes significantly to Ireland’s ability to export about 90% of its production. Reconciling Ireland’s sustainability ambitions with its plans to grow the value of the Land-Agri-Food sector while also producing food within the island’s planetary boundaries will require a shift in focus from volume of production to value of production. This will be a significant transition and will inevitably result in trade-offs that need to be reconciled with stakeholders across the system. The Irish government has set ambitious goals for its Land-Agri-Food sector through its Climate Action Plan and the Food Vision 2030 Strategy: reducing emissions by 25% by 2030 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050. To reach these goals, new and innovative approaches will be required by all stakeholders.

In order to help the sector deliver on accelerated pathways for climate action and food system transformation, the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine (DAFM) has partnered with EIT Climate-KIC – Europe’s largest climate innovation partnership — to support national climate action in the agriculture and food sector. Building on EIT Climate-KIC’s Deep Demonstration methodology, the two-year initiative will develop and initiate a portfolio of innovation actions across the entire value chain, from soil to farm to fork. This report, ‘Dealing with climate change and sustainability targets’, provides an overview of solutions that can be considered as a part of the portfolio development, during which new innovation actions — including both policies and projects — are co-designed with public, private and civil society stakeholder actors.

Chapter 7 of the report ‘Circular agrifood systems in Ireland’ was authored by the Circular Bioeconomy Research Group at Munster Technological University. Chapter 7 offers an in-depth Irish focussed approach to circularity and the bioeconomy, providing an overview of the current landscape, recent developments and future sustainable pathways. Topic areas include the reduction of food waste across the value chain, innovation in sustainable biobased packaging solutions, circular business models for industry growth and the creation of connections between the quintuple helix of stakeholders; environment, civic society, government, industry and academia. A webinar series of panel sessions with authors of the report chapters can be accessed here

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