How and what we farm and fish, eat and dispose of are some of the biggest contributors to dangerous climate change and precipitous loss of nature. In 2019, Sustain has joined others in declaring a 'climate and nature emergency'.
In the UK, over 70% of the land area is used for farming, over 30% of greenhouse gas emissions arise from the food system, and a third of the food we produce goes to waste. Intensive farming and fishing practices are the main drivers of biodiversity loss on land and at sea.
This also offers substantial potential for large-scale and systematic solutions. Fixing the food, farming and fishing system is one of the key ways to avert climate change and restore nature. And we must do so in a way that secures decent livelihoods, high standards of public health and animal welfare, and ensures that everyone is able to eat well.
"The great task of our era is to avert catastrophic climate change and restore nature, maintaining our ability to sustain human life and pursue social progress. We need big, transformative action to create the economic, policy and legislative conditions for better food, farming and fishing to thrive and accelerate into the mainstream."
Kath Dalmeny, chief executive of Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming
The Sustain alliance is stepping up to the climate and nature emergency. We have two key priorities:
- Catalysing the shared voice of our powerful alliance to campaign for the economic, policy and legislative conditions for climate and nature friendly food, farming and fishing to thrive.
- Getting our own house in order, ensuring that we and our movement 'walk our talk' on climate and nature, and that our staff and associates are confident advocates for change.
Averting climate change and restoring nature are themes woven into much of Sustain's work. Follow the links in the menu to find out more.
Sustain will shortly publish our commitments, and invite further ideas for what we can all do to avert dangerous climate change and restore nature, through our collective food, farming and fishing choices and policies. As our own first tangible steps (published June 2019, more to follow), the Sustain alliance is committing to:
- Campaigning vociferously for an accelerated transition towards all UK farming being by agro-ecological methods, greatly increasing the carbon sequestration potential of soil and restoring nature. Also supporting a transition to diets that can contain more plants and some meat and dairy, but less, and raised to high standards of animal welfare and environmental protection. We will do so as part of our alliance’s work on the Agriculture Bill, Defra’s new Environmental Land Management Scheme, post-Brexit farm and trade policy, and the forthcoming National Food Strategy.
- Working with the Sustainable Food Cities network and others to help towns, cities and rural areas that are declaring a climate and nature emergency to integrate support for climate and nature-friendly farming into their policies and practice; to boost fruit and vegetable production and consumption, and to radically reducing food waste.
- Becoming ever more confident advocates for change. For example, Sustain will integrate climate change and nature restoration into more of our policy and communications work. Sustain's staff will also undertake training in AGM advocacy with the charity ShareAction, to help Sustain staff and associates use shareholder action to press businesses for change.
Read more about the science and philosophy that underpins our approach in this blog, on Planetary Boundaries, Doughnut Economics and the Sustainable Development Goals: Big ideas that change the (food) world.
"We do need hope—of course, we do. But the one thing we need more than hope is action. Once we start to act, hope is everywhere."
Greta Thunberg, school strike leader and climate change campaigner
Whole farm systems must be central to Environmental Land Management and wider policy – new Sustain alliance paper
22 Feb 2021
Food and farming absent from Environmental Audit Committee report on economic recovery
17 Feb 2021
Dasgupta Review says our demands of nature outstrips its capacity to supply us – calls for transformational change
4 Feb 2021
Climate change and nature: Sustain has taken a keen interest in the rapidly accumulating evidence about the effect of food and farming on climate change and nature, as scientific evidence emerges that our food system is a very significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss.
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