The Introduction to COP26 and the Launch Webinar is now online

The Introduction to COP26 and the Launch Webinar is now online

On Thursday, I was joined by Dr. Victoria Hatton, COP26 Pacific Climate Change Advisor and Rob Ward, co-founder & CEO of UK-based ForwardFood.Tech as we announced the launch of the platform. CREDIT: Screen grab above taken by Victoria at Eden Park, Auckland, during the webinar. It’s the closest I will ever get to the playing surface! is being designed to enable agribusinesses, agritech startups, researchers, governments and investors to collaborate globally to address some of the key climate and sustainability challenges facing farmers and growers today….and tomorrow.

If you or your organisation are working in the agrifood tech space and want to engage with partners around the world, then you can register your interest today, free of charge, at our landing page at

To learn more about the platform and its potential impact on climate change, we strongly urge you to view the webinar below. And please…. register your interest!


Introducing GroundUp.Earth – the problem solving platform for Farming and the Food Industry

Introducing GroundUp.Earth – the problem solving platform for Farming and the Food Industry

A massive sigh of relief!

It is great that after months of planning, we are finally able to introduce GroundUp.Earth, the problem solving platform for Farming and the Food Industry. The news actually slipped out 30 minutes ago during our COP26 AgriFoodTech Climate Summit webinar. We will be publishing the recorded version of this webinar on our Videos page within the next 24 hours.

During the call, I was able to confirm that the AgriFoodTech Climate Summit in Glasgow in November is not a destination; it’s a milestone. In the next few weeks, we plan, in conjunction with our UK-based partners, ForwardFood.Tech, to launch a global crowd-sourcing platform that will enable researchers, agribusinesses, agritech startups, governments and investors to collectively address and collaborate on solutions designed to combat climate change.

We are currently designing the back-end platform that will drive the initiative. Over the coming weeks, I will be providing insights into just how this development is progressing and increasingly, how you can engage. For the immediate term, we have added a 2 minute Typeform landing page at where you can register your interest. Please do so now.

This is, without doubt, the most significant and impact work that Wharf42 has ever undertaken. The global agrifood sector’s contribution to harmful greenhouse gases is immense. So on the flip-side, is the need for the agrifood sector to produce more nutritious, affordable food to feed an ever-increasing global population.

The GroundUp.Earth platform is being designed to help meet both these challenges.

I very much hope you can join us on this journey.


The AgriFoodTech Climate Summit. The rubber hits the road

The AgriFoodTech Climate Summit. The rubber hits the road

Yesterday, Jacqui and I met Dr Victoria Hatton, COP26 Pacific Regional Climate Change Advisor, and the UK Department of International Trade team at the British Consulate in Auckland. Tonight we are speaking to Rob Ward, our Climate Summit partner in the UK.

Whilst some of the focus of our recent announcement has been on the COP26 event in Glasgow this coming November, this in fact only represents a key milestone in a much larger project. Building a global platform that connects agribusinesses, researchers, startups and investors is the larger theme. Only by developing a collaborative framework will we be able to collectively address the issues around climate change and its impact on farmers and growers worldwide.

With this planning now well underway, you have the unique opportunity to learn more by joining the first of our scheduled AgriFoodTech Climate Summit virtual events.

Taking place on Thursday 25 March at 8.00am NZT (Wednesday 24 March 7.00pm GMT), this session will introduce you to both COP26 and the plans for this global framework. Victoria, Rob and I will take you through the opportunity and how you and your organisation can engage. You can join this free session by registering here.

From tomorrow, we will begin to socialise the opportunity 1-2-1 with our global networks. For Wharf42, the next 24 months represent the most significant opportunity we have ever participated in. We hope you can join us on this journey.

Join the 8th Annual Salinas Valley Virtual AgTech Summit – March 18-19 (PST)

Join the 8th Annual Salinas Valley Virtual AgTech Summit – March 18-19 (PST)

Next week, the Western Growers Center for Innovation & Technology are co-hosting a two-day Virtual AgTech Summit with Salinas-based, Hartnell College.

The major theme of the event is the importance of education and the need to up-skill today’s agriculture workforce. It’s the strong belief that the agtech revolution of today, requires a ‘New Kind of Worker’ for tomorrow. With the emergence of game-changing robotic and automation technologies, many  traditional manual roles will now become hybrid – humans and machines working together.

Dennis Donohue, Director of the Western Growers Center, will be joined by the California Secretary of Agriculture, Karen Ross. Together they will discuss the role of education and the significance of meeting today’s and tomorrow’s workforce needs. Wearing my New Zealand hat, I know that this is a conversation that is already underway. As the impact of automation increases across the production supply chain, so is the need to up-skill the workforce.

The Summit is also introducing the audience to opportunities in Mexico and LATAM. The reality is that a number of Western Grower members, particularly in California, Nevada and Arizona have moved south of the US border into Mexico and further south to LATAM. This region is growing in global significance. Once again, wearing my New Zealand hat, the Mexican and LATAM opportunity is being actively investigated by New Zealand Trade & Enterprise.

The discussions next week will provide further input into the opportunity. From my own visit to Argentina in 2018 and discussions with folk in Chile, Columbia, Brazil and Mexico more recently, I can absolutely confirm this interest. The sessions next week cover both the challenges facing growers in this important region as well as an overview of the emerging start-up scene.

I strongly urge anyone interested in learning more about just how education is going to play an ever more important role in the development of the agricultural workforce, as well as get a better understanding on the emerging opportunities in Mexico and LATAM, to register for this Summit.

You can register free of charge today at

The 2021 New Zealand Economic Forum – public policy settings in the spotlight

The 2021 New Zealand Economic Forum – public policy settings in the spotlight

Yesterday, Jacqui and I had the opportunity to attend the 2021 New Zealand Economic Forum, hosted by the University of Waikato & Waikato Management School in Hamilton.

Having spent several months working on this week’s AgriFoodTech Climate Summit announcement, it was good to be able to focus on some of New Zealand’s post COVID-19 macro economic challenges as well as network in-person with a number of new and familiar faces.

The Forum attracted a number of highly experienced speakers. Among them;

  • Professor Neil Quigley – Vice Chancellor, University of Waikato and Chair of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand
  • Gr Ganesh Nana – Chair, New Zealand Productivity Commission
  • Professor John Gibson – Professor of Economics, University of Waikato
  • Hon Grant Robertson – Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand
  • Dr Eric Crompton – Chief Economist, The New Zealand Initiative
  • Cameron Bagrie – Economist at Bagrie Economics
  • Professor Paul Dalziel – Professor of Economics, Lincoln University
  • Rt Hon Sir Bill English – Former Prime Minister of New Zealand

The Forum’s subhead was ‘Finding the right policy mix in the post-Covid world’.

The subtext that emerged from the day’s event that most caught my attention however really took hold during the final panel discussion involving Crompton, Bagrie & Dalziel. They introduced a concept that in Wellington is known as the ‘Policy Authorising Environment’. This was new to me.

Essentially it means that Ministers and their senior officials, will often fail to support policies because they contain an element of risk. This has, in the view of the panel, led to a lack of public sector policy experimentation. Whilst the private sector has frequently been urged to take rapid and agile steps to address disruption by shareholders / investors, government by contrast has no such oversight and is therefore much more risk averse. Incremental change rather than transformation change is therefore often the preferred option. Given the Forum’s subhead, in a post-COVID world, will this approach be enough?

One interesting example given related to The Living Standards Framework which represents the Treasury’s perspective on what matters for New Zealanders’ wellbeing, now and into the future. Treasury considered the role of ‘innovation’, but deferred any inclusion of ‘innovation’ into its recommendations to a consultation process to be completed in 2022. One would frankly hope that innovation and growth would be at he heart of any productivity and wellbeing settings. The fact that Treasury deferred on this is I guess a good example of the ‘Policy Authorising Environment’ at work.

The discussion around ‘public policy settings’ came up a number of times during the day. A common held view was that there are not enough enabling frameworks being developed by the public sector. As New Zealand emerges into a post-Covid world, developing such frameworks should be a priority. Otherwise we might all just suffer from Cameron Bagrie’s quote of the day, From a government perspective, “failure is simply deferred achievement”.

Today, the guest list of quality speakers continues with Adrian Orr, Governor, Reserve Bank of New Zealand and Vittoria Shortt, CEO, ASB Bank, joining the list.

The most anticipated session for me is the panel discussion on Economic Policy and the Environment – challenges and opportunities. Vicky Robertson, Chief Executive, Ministry of Environment is being joined by Matt Burgess, Senior Economist of the New Zealand Initiative and Dr Victoria Kahui from the University of Otago. Robertson sits on the new public sector Climate Change Chief Executive Board and co-chairs Aotearoa Circle. Whilst there was occasional reference to climate change and its long term impact by speakers yesterday, this is the one session where I expect the subject to dominate.

It comes as the government has announced an extension to the submission date for feedback on the Climate Change Commission’s Advisory to government. Wharf42 intends to submit a response to this call. In this spirit, I hope that today’s panel discussion focuses on the ‘walk’ and not just the ‘talk’.

The time for taking positive and real action has come.