Aoife Behan  -  Policies for a transition to agroecology by 2045 (Scotland)

The MacRobert Trust

Currently, I am Director or Soil Association Scotland, a food and farming charity. My role is to lead and manage the organisation, its programme of work and its team of 27 staff to build its influence and credibility to transform the way we eat, farm and care for the natural world. We deliver a range of Scottish Government funded programmes including the Rural Innovation Support Service which promotes farmer-led innovation and Food for Life Scotland which works to get fresh, healthy, Scottish food on school plates.

I am a social policy professional – I have a MSc in Social Policy and Planning from London School of Economics - with a keen interest in food and farming issues. I joined the Soil Association 2016, where I led on the Good Food for All strategic theme, and the organisation’s policy influencing work, including participating in policy fora. Prior to that I held policy and social research roles, and also spent time running my own food events business.

This is a very challenging time for agriculture with a climate emergency declared in Scotland, the biodiversity crash and Brexit. I believe a wholesale transition to agroecology – farming with nature - may help Scotland meet its climate change targets while also protecting biodiversity, livelihoods of farmers, and ensuring sustainable food production. I also believe that policy and public investment could do so much more to help our farmers to make this transition. The scholarship will offer me the opportunity to explore these ideas in more detail, and advocate for change on my return.