***This interview is taken from the SAI Platform Annual Report 2021. To read the full report on the progress of the ERBS, go to the Annual Report 2021.***
Nigel Edwards is Co-Chair of the European Roundtable for Beef Sustainability (ERBS) and Group CSR Director of Hilton Food Group plc .
When did you get involved with SAI Platform, Nigel?
I took part in some of the 2018/2019 conversations about the ERBS and started to learn more about what was going on in the world of cattle sustainability.
What were the highlights of 2021 for you?
One of the key things we’ve done this year is become engaged in the goal setting for the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (GRSB). We’ve made our relationship with them stronger and, in effect, we’re enabling and supporting them to get through their goal setting process so they can align with the stage we’re at in ERBS.
I think they’ve made tremendous progress and it feels like we’re now part of a broader momentum towards common goals. We’re looking forward to demonstrating our own progress against these as well as our own goals, which are in synergy.
The main progress we have made in ERBS this year is a lot of work to establish the country-level Platforms reporting properly, to give them a reporting process which is robust. And what really starts to come alive is when platforms start sharing what works with each other.
It’s also been very helpful to work more closely with the Sustainable Dairy Partnership (SDP). We’re now talking regularly and commissioning work together. I can see the fruits of that dialogue coming through clearly and it’s exciting to have shared knowledge that we can use across SAI Platform.
This is an exciting time for beef sustainability but also challenging because in 2021, at the international level, there’s been an enormous focus on methane emissions and on sustainable food production. We’ve been facing challenges relating to whether it’s healthy to eat meat versus other diets. There’s also been a lot of adverse media coverage on the impacts of eating meat, drinking milk and so on which is frequently not grounded in science.
It’s vitally important that SAI Platform, the ERBS and the Dairy Working Group have access to the right science and information so that we can build our case on these topics.
On the other hand, there are lots of new technologies coming out – feed additives that can reduce methane, for instance. The science behind sequestration and reporting is becoming clearer. Methodologies for measuring on-farm sustainability are becoming less complex and more consistent.
It feels like there’s genuinely positive momentum that will enable us to define the role of red meat in a diet that’s healthy for us and the planet.
What do you enjoy most about being co-chair of the ERBS?
I’m forever learning. A highlight for me was working with the Dairy Working Group and Wageningen University. We had really good dialogue in a small working group, conversations I would never have if I didn’t have a role in the ERBS and SAI Platform.
I’ve started to get to know more people, and I am engaging in in-depth dialogue about a wide range of countries and production systems that I wouldn’t normally discuss. What’s interesting is that while it has helped me to understand a different perspective, it’s all totally in sync.
I have also learnt a great deal about how national programmes have to work within their political frameworks. Navigating this complexity has really broadened my knowledge and understanding of the sector.
Yes, it’s hard work at times but when we look back over the year, the work we’ve done together, and the fact that we’re in a stronger position to do things even better next year, is great.
This interview is taken from the SAI Platform Annual Report 2021. To read the full report, go to the Annual Report 2021.