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Think Globally, Act Locally – A Note from the Field

Distributed leadership is the future of cellular agriculture.

Published September 22, 2023 | Updated September 22, 2023 | Isha Datar,

Hello friend – it’s Isha!

Just got back from a whirlwind work trip and wanted to share a quick note of hope and inspiration from the field:

I recently had the pleasure of travelling to Braga, Portugal to attend the Cell Agri Portugal’s first international conference.

CellAgri Portugal is a new organization founded by a handful of scientists across the country focused on advancing cellular agriculture locally.

This group assembled an international set of speakers, the local mayor, a government minister, a major poultry producer, several scientific companies, a well-curated program covering social and technical dimensions, and the best conference catering I’ve ever had for an inaugural event on a shoe-string (and I mean shoe-string!) budget.

Carlos RodriguesSara M. OliveiraFrederico Ferreira and the rest of the team did an incredible job rallying together a diverse set of voices and stakeholders to focus, specifically, on building the field of cellular agriculture in Portugal. Keep an eye on them!

It’s local events like THESE – of smaller, united, and invested groups – that feel like real firsts, real sites of change, real loci of leadership.

Was an honor to keynote this event with a new talk inspired by all the international, localized field building we’re seeing. I had to make a brand new talk after seeing Day 1 of Cell Agri Portugal’s programming!

There is something structurally new and exciting happening in cellular agriculture right now: it is scaling locally.

New Harvest believes that positive impact is maximized – and our mission is realized – when cellular agriculture is:

  • Accessible, such that anyone in the world can participate in the understanding, production and consumption of cellular agriculture products;
  • Applicable, such that cell ag technologies can be applied accordingly and appropriately to different cultures, regions, and cuisines; and
  • Accountable, such that claims can be substantiated and there is transparency along the length of the supply chain.

For that vision to come to light, we need to see our broader community “think globally and act locally”. No one can understand the intricacies of advancing cellular agriculture in Portugal better than the local network. They were able to activate local government and work closely with the leadership of a major local poultry producer, Lusiaves. Paulo Gaspar from Lusiaves is a New Harvest donor (!!) and cellular agriculture advocate with ambitious visions for the space, who even helped bring CNN Portugal to the event. This local group leveraged their local network and assets to advance the cause locally.

We need to see distributed leadership like this everywhere.

A highlight of the event was a small, informal gathering of several of the local Cell Ag associations from different countries, including Cellular Agriculture Greece, Cellulaire Agricultuur Nederland, Cellular Agriculture Germany, Agriculture Cellulaire France, AgriCultura Celular España, Cellular Agriculture Italy, CellAg Nordic, and CellAg Brazil. They were coming together to debrief on the event, and turned it into an interesting brainstorm for paths forward in Europe.

This is the definition of movement building! Organizing… activating the will and capacity of individuals and independent organizations to work collectively towards a bigger goal.

The future is bright. I’m looking forward to seeing more local activations like this in the future – CellAgri Portugal has set a high and inspirational bar for others to follow.

Well done!

P.S. I must give a shoutout to my colleague Dwayne Holmes, New Harvest’s Director in the EU. On multiple occasions various attendees shared how much his facilitative leadership provided strategic support without taking spotlight. This is a theme of our work: empowering emerging leadership, and he’s really embodying this on the ground in Europe.

About the Authors
Isha Datar