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The people have spoken: nature should be a human right and food companies held accountable

'The People's Plan for Nature' was developed by a representative assembly of participants from across the UK as part of the Save Our Wild Isles project, a partnership between WWF, the RSPB and the National Trust.

The People's Plan for Nature. Credit: National Trust, RSPB and WWF

The People's Plan for Nature. Credit: National Trust, RSPB and WWF

The plan, released this 23 March, contains 26 Calls to Action, including the recognition of access to nature as a human right, a permanent Assembly for Nature, a UK Future Well-being Act in Westminster and for all food companies to be legally-bound to halt environmental destruction. 

Developing the plan involved over 20,000 online contributions and citizen's assemblies, who reported that people experience nature as offering joy, wonder, and fulfilment, and a source of healing. With agriculture the main reason for the decline of wildlife in the UK, many of the resulting recommendations focussed on farming and our food system. The analysis of public responses also showed a desire to transform our political system to reduce pollution and embed the protection, renewal and flourishing of nature in all decisionmaking.

Restoring rivers
The plan calls for a UK-wide Water Management Framework to restore all rivers and wetlands to a healthy ecological status. It calls for legally-binding targets for reducing runoff and pollution from agriculture, with penalties for non-compliance based on the polluter pays principle.

Overhauling farming subsidies
The plan also calls for more support for a transition to nature-friendly farming, including an overhaul of farm subsidies to make it profitable to do the right thing and to change what is produced to reflect a diet lower in meat.

Additionally, there should be a national conversation on how and why our diets should change, for the majority of people to aim to reduce meat, dairy and fish consumption by at least 25% by 2030, and this change underpinned by better access to healthy and sustainable food and more information for consumers.

Regulation of business
The People's Plan also calls for legislation and incentives to ensure all companies involved in food halt their negative impact on the environment and cut waste. The "polluter pays" principle should be enforced and businesses held accountable, and NGOs should publish league tables of better and worse performers to encourage compliance.

Marine environments
Participants recommended a reduction in, and reallocation of, fishing quotas, as well mandatory remote monitoring to enforce sustainable fishing policies and the establishment of Marine National Parks.

Local governments and local action

The plan also urges local governments to lead education initiatives in their area, and establish biodiverse and health-focused green spaces including activities related to local food, community gardens, biodiversity, cooking and education. Local Governments were also instructed to limit unhealthy food outlets and change food offered in schools and hospitals through procurement. The assembly were inspired by the Local Food Partnership model, which has shown how representative groups can change the local food system for the better.

Ruth Westcott, climate and nature emergency coordinator at Sustain said:

“The People’s Plan is a call to action to halt the destruction of our planet from the food system and it is great to see. We espeically welcome calls for more partnership working from NGOs and communities at a local level because, as a well-established alliance, that is what we aim to do every day. The Plan is bold and reflects the will of the people. It is now up to our political leaders to turn this plan into action, and ensure that our environment is protected and renewed for generations to come.”

Published Thursday 23 March 2023

Food for the Planet: Food for the Planet is helping local authorities, businesses and organisations take simple actions to tackle the climate and nature emergency through food.

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