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Speaker Interview: Duncan Williamson

Get to know the thought leaders sharing their insights at the Future Food Systems event (25-26 January, Online | 2 March, London) in our dedicated speaker interview series.


Independent Forums: What is your favorite food?

Duncan Williamson: Spinach dhal and chapati

Independent Forums: Who or what has inspired you this year and why?

Duncan Williamson: David Attendborough and the Green Planet, a wonderful program bringing planets to life, reminding me that we rely on them for everything – food, air, life – and we are not treating them with the respect they deserve. We need to do better, faster.

Independent Forums: What is your biggest source of motivation?

Duncan Williamson: My children's future and the desire to ensure they have a livable future full of nature.

Independent Forums: How would you describe a typical day?

Duncan Williamson: I am up at 6 with my girls, we play, chat then coffee and start work. At the moment I work with civil society and companies to advise on issues in the food system, trends, threats and opportunities. Currently I am working on industrial livestock, alternate protein and the financial sector, rewilding, climate justice and the growing food crisis. Before lunch I go for a walk or a run. Then back to work. Once I collect the girls from school, I try to work on a book I am writing, a simple guide to how we can eat to have a healthy, affordable, nature and farmer friendly sustainable diet. I am trying to untangle the complex mixed messages and cherry picking of data; the aim is to move away from the current tribalism in the food debate. After tea and bedtime stories, I relax with my wife, watch some telly or read my book then early to bed.

Independent Forums: What’s one thing about you that most people don’t know?

Duncan Williamson: I don't like roast potatoes, chips or chocolate.

Independent Forums: Where do you see the biggest opportunity for transformation within the food system?

Duncan Williamson: Switching subsidies towards agroecological, regenerative farming systems, away from the industrial model. Any savings alongside appropriate changes to the tax system (sugar taxes etc.) are used to support low-income groups and public procurement so everyone has access to healthy, tasty and sustainable food.

Independent Forums: What are you most looking forward to at the Re-Imagining Food Systems think-in?

Duncan Williamson: I am looking forward to learning what others are planning and how they will meet and enhance current commitments at pace in line with the scale and urgency of the crisis we are all facing. I am hoping for plans for greater collaboration, concrete action plans and ideas to go way beyond current commitments and regulations.


Duncan will deliver the opening keynote address at the Re-Imagining Food Systems think-in on 2 March 2022.

Register here to join the conversation.


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