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SEFARI Fellowship with Highlands and Islands Enterprise on Arctic Food Innovation Clusters

SEFARI Fellowship with Highlands and Islands Enterprise on Arctic Food Innovation Clusters

The SEFARI Gateway is pleased to announce that David Watts, the Rowett Institute will be taking on the latest SEFARI Fellowship. This new fellowship partners David with Highlands and Islands Enterprise and will explore the potential of a cluster-based approach for food production and regional economic development in the Highlands and Islands in Scotland. This exciting project aligns with Scotland’s Arctic Policy Framework, launched on 23 Sept 2019 by the Scottish Government.

The purpose of this fellowship is threefold, to:

  1. Understand the benefits for Scotland’s participation in the Arctic Food Innovation Cluster with respect to food innovation and local economies
  2. Reflect on the strengths and contributions the Highlands and Islands and wider Scotland could make as an effective partner and good global citizen
  3. Illustrate possible approaches and models for engagement in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including within the context of a global climate emergency. 

In September 2019, the Scottish Government launched their first Arctic Policy Framework following increasing engagement with Arctic and near Arctic regions over the last few years, primarily through the ‘Arctic Circle’. 

The Arctic Circle is the largest network of international dialogue and cooperation on the future of the Arctic. It delivers forums across the world and every October hosts an Assembly in Iceland encouraging opportunities for knowledge exchange and collaboration particularly in terms of innovation, science, climate change and sustainable development.

The Scottish Government has had Ministerial attendance at the last three annual Arctic Circle Assemblies and hosted an Arctic Forum event in Edinburgh, 2017.  This has reinforced the close connections Scotland has with northern countries, particularly across the Highlands and Islands (H&Is), in terms of geography, culture, demography, economies and sustainability and the shared opportunities and challenges.

SEFARI Gateway has been working with HIE to understand the opportunity that exists to engage with partners around the design, development, delivery and participation in, an Arctic Food Innovation Cluster (AFIC) led by the University of Saskatchewan in Canada.  This follows the endorsement of a proposal submitted to the Arctic Council Sustainable Development Working Group in January 2019 that builds on earlier work undertaken through the auspices of the Sustainable Development Working Group titled ‘The Arctic as a Food Producing Region’ (2016).

It is proposed that an AFIC will pull together relevant people in Arctic food value chains for a cluster-based approach to food production and regional economic development. For this purpose, food production encompasses traditional, artisanal, and industry-scale food production from natural resources for own, national, and international consumption.

A cluster-based approach to food innovation aims to draw together Arctic food producers with governments, Arctic Indigenous communities, universities, research centres, vocational training providers, and industry associations and young people (the next generation). Overall it will respond to global challenges of food production while seeking to define the Arctic’s unique role and contribution to the changing climate and issues of food security locally and around the world. 

It is envisaged that the partners in the AFIC will benefit through professional linkages that are established between hubs, where knowledge spill-overs are enhanced and innovations in the Arctic food system are achieved.

The benefits for Arctic communities and businesses include opportunities for innovation, development and diversification that transform local food and drink sectors, embedding sustainability principles at a local level whilst redefining the food economies of the future.

Please email andrew.kelloe@sefari.scot regarding any enquiries.