Sustain's five-year strategy is due to be launched at a time of great change for the future of the UK’s food, farming and fishing. Sustain is also 21 years old, symbolically marking our ‘coming of age’.
We can no longer take for granted the security, resilience and sustainability of our food supply. Globally, the human species is facing up to the realities of climate chaos, precipitous loss of nature and the twin challenges of malnutrition and diet-related disease, with the impacts experienced disproportionately by people disadvantaged by their income, age, state of health, background or location. It is the task of our movement to catalyse resilient, profound and large-scale shifts in food production, supply chains and diets to set our food system on a healthy, fair and sustainable path.
At the same time, food supply and standards have become ever more political. On the national and regional stage, this fresh iteration of Sustain’s strategy will be published as the world is continuing to wrestle with the Covid-19 pandemic, which has thrown into sharp relief the profound inequalities in our food system, and lack of resilience in farming and food supply chains.
It also begins in the year that the UK sets out on life outside the European Union, our Government considers adopting a National Food Strategy, and Glasgow is set to host the next round of international climate change negotiations, with a special focus on nature-based solutions. New climate, environment, agriculture, fisheries, trade and social policy will change the priorities, rules, governance structures and finance that have shaped the UK food supply for decades.
Sustain is a powerful alliance of organisations and communities working together for a better system of food, farming and fishing, and cultivating the movement for change.
Our alliance's achievements so far, documented in our new strategy, show that we can take heart from the power that we have when we work together. Sustain alliance members and colleagues represent a veritable smörgåsbord of expertise and well-proven, viable solutions to so many of the challenges that face us. These now need to be supported and replicated at scale.
About the strategy
Sustain is a powerful alliance of organisations and communities working together for a better system of food, farming and fishing, and cultivating the movement for change. Working together, we run highly effective and creative campaigns, advocacy, networks and demonstration projects, aiming to catalyse permanent changes in policy and practice, and to help equip more people and communities with skills as change-makers.
Over the past five years, Sustain has manifestly grown in confidence, reputation, influence and impact. The issues we care about so deeply are now the subject of public and policy attention at local, national and international levels. We have high ambitions to build on this to achieve and accelerate change, and at scale. Working together, the Sustain alliance is committed to doing all we can to accelerate our shared vision into reality. The strategy sets out what we will work together to achieve, under three core areas:
1. Good food production
Our shared vision: All food is produced in a way that is fair and sustainable, playing a pivotal role in tackling climate change and restoring nature. Fair for farmers, fishers, workers and animals, at home and abroad; providing the basis of healthy and sustainable diets; and which restores and protects the land, biodiversity and natural assets for now and generations to come.
2. Good food economy
Our shared vision: A thriving food supply chain from farm to fork supports decent livelihoods for farmers, fishers, food producers and food and farming workers at home and overseas, and ensures manufacturers, suppliers, and caterers make healthy and sustainable options the easy and attractive choice for everyone, where no food goes to waste.
3. Good food for all
Our shared vision: Healthy, sustainable diets are accessible and affordable to all, through a range of outlets that explicitly support fair, diverse and sustainable food production. It becomes unacceptable, inconvenient and expensive to promote unhealthy, unethical and unsustainable food. Healthy food environments, good food skills and education, and convivial eating, are promoted and enjoyed everywhere.
Good food culture
Cutting across all three themes, our vision includes a strong UK food culture that ensures good food is valued and enjoyed, and is promoted in coherent, integrated government policy at international, national and local level. Education, skills and opportunities in production and food quality are appreciated by all and not just the few. People everywhere engage in making the system of food, farming and fishing better for people, animals and planet as motivated, skilled practitioners and active food citizens. In our shared vision, good food is a source of pride, security, decent jobs, health, well-being, conviviality and joy.
“We are entering a decade in which we must achieve a radically different way of organising ourselves and organising the food and farming system: one that restores nature, averts catastrophic climate change and ensures that everyone can live and eat well.”
Kath Dalmeny, Chief Executive of Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming
Cultivating the good food movement
The Sustain alliance brings together around 100 organisations nationally – and hundreds more at local and regional level – cultivating the movement for change.
Working together, we influence government, local authorities, businesses, organisations and gatekeepers who are in a position to achieve change. We advocate for transparency, legal responsibilities, good governance and accountability. We work with sister alliances and organisations in the devolved nations, and support experts and groups working on specialist issues where we can lend our weight. We also work with leaders, food partnerships and communities in places across the UK – and internationally – to improve health, sustainability and inequalities through the mobilisation and celebration of local action on food.
Sustain is an alliance in name and deed. We develop our work in an interactive and iterative way, bringing good ideas to the fore and winning campaigns in collaboration with others. This requires Sustain-style leadership, rich in diversity and purpose and with power being diffuse, not concentrated. We will continue to adopt multiple, creative ways of working that suit the needs of diverse people and issues. We will continue to develop our work with the spirit, values, ethos and drive that have contributed to our impact so far; which our members and associates tell us they value so highly.
Cultivating our people
Sustain’s staff, paid interns, volunteers and trustees are the bedrock of our organisation. The people who we work with are Sustain-style leaders in their own right – cultivators of the growing movement for change. Over the next five years, we will seek to make this more explicit in our recruitment, working practices and communications, as well as in opportunities for personal development. In doing so, we will also take special care to provide opportunities for people from diverse backgrounds and to help people overcome the barriers to involvement. This explicitly includes people from diverse ethnic backgrounds – in line with our published commitment to tackling racial injustice in the food system.
“Sustain is the mothership for campaigning and innovative food and farming projects in the UK, particularly those that aim to change the mainstream narrative.”
Dr Helen Crawley, Director of the First Steps Nutrition Trust – a member of the Sustain alliance
In parallel with our strategy, Sustain’s refreshed Organisational Development Plan sets out how we will focus, resource, staff and manage implementation of our strategy, and how we will assess, review and report on progress. This plan has five key themes, as follows:
- Influence: Strengthen the influence, profile and reputation of Sustain and the alliance.
- Diversity: Create opportunities for a wide and diverse range of people to be involved and have their voices heard.
- Supporters: Increase the number of Sustain’s supporters and the level and quality of their engagement.
- Skills: Equip campaigners and change-makers with effective skills and knowledge – our own project coordinators, campaigners and officers; the wider movement; and cultivating new talent.
- Funding: Build Sustain’s financial resilience, including unrestricted and diverse sources of funding.
We have set ourselves bold ambitions. By the culmination of this new strategy in 2025, we look forward to celebrating with our alliance members tangible progress on the issues that we all care about so deeply, and which are now so urgent to address.
16 Jan 2021
Sustain: Sustain The alliance for better food and farming advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals, improve the working and living environment, enrich society and culture and promote equity.
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Kath is Chief Executive of Sustain: The alliance for better food and farming, since 2016 leading the alliance's response to Brexit and its profound implications for healthy and sustainable food, farming and fishing and developing the Campaign for a Better Food Britain. During the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic in 2020, Kath has been the alliance lead on Food and Vulnerability, serving on numerous liaison and coordination groups to support the emergency food response at local and national level. She was instrumental with the Good Law Project and Doughty Street Chambers in launching a judicial review of the government's approach to children's holiday hunger during Covid-19.
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