To achieve international climate objectives and to keep 1.5°C of global warming within reach, engaging with agriculture is vital, according to a report by the British Embassy in Dublin and BiOrbic.

The report, Collaborating on Climate: Bioeconomy and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Innovation across the UK and Ireland, was launched today (Friday, April 22), on Earth Day.

The agricultural sector feeds the world, supports many jobs and rural communities, and can sustain biodiversity which is essential to ecosystems on the planet, the British Embassy said.

The report highlights research and innovation on sustainable agriculture and identifies key opportunities for future collaboration in the areas of natural capital, soil health and crops, agricultural emissions, animal health and agri-tech innovation.

A sustainable bioeconomy and sustainable agriculture can be significantly strengthened in the UK and Ireland, according to the report, through the following steps:

  • Research and innovation: The generation of new knowledge and solutions, including on farm level and farmer-centric solutions;
  • Education and engagement: Multi-actor engagement across research, producers, consumers, citizens and young people to support the uptake of solutions;
  • Investment: De-risking the scale-up of solutions and demonstrating medium and large-scale solutions through infrastructure investments, including leveraging private investment.

The British ambassador to Ireland, Paul Johnston, said Earth Day is a moment to reflect on the greatest challenges of the planet.

He added that the UK and Ireland, with partners across the world, are working on the security crisis resulting from the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Johnston explained:

"But the Russia/Ukraine crisis, which has important energy and food-security implications, cannot be allowed to detract from the overwhelming global challenge of tackling climate change."

The transition to a cleaner, net-zero carbon economy is ultimately the most effective route to ensuring climate and energy security, and long-term prosperity in Europe and beyond, he said.

Johnston added that the UK and Ireland can work together to address the challenges of reducing emissions in the sector, protecting biodiversity and achieving environmentally friendly farming practices.

During his recent visit to Ireland, Johnston said, the Prince of Wales saw some of the fantastic work being done by innovative Irish farmers.

Speaking about the report, director of BiOrbic, Kevin O’Connor, commented that there is close engagement between researchers and farmers across the UK and Ireland. He added:

"We need to place farmers at the centre of agricultural innovation by bringing them into research programmes, and empowering them with the tools, support and knowledge to deploy sustainable solutions at farm level."

BiOrbic, Bioeconomy Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) Research Centre, is Ireland’s national centre focused on addressing challenges, and delivering solutions for the development of a sustainable circular bioeconomy.