As world leaders come together in Glasgow for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), we hope that the event will be remembered in history as a turning point in the fight against climate change.
There are concerns, however, that the official agenda has failed to place enough emphasis on the role that the food system plays in climate change – both as a cause but also as a potential solution. Certain topics (such as energy and transport) have been given a dedicated day of discussion but the food system and agriculture do not appear to receive the same level of prioritisation.
Putting food on the agenda
More than one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the food system. This must be recognised and addressed if the international community is to meet the UNFCCC target of limiting global warming to 1.5°C and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
A group of 28 organisations, brought together by Nourish Scotland and including Soil Association, have joined forces to make sure food is firmly on the agenda over the next couple of weeks. The ‘Recipes for Resilience’ food and climate zone will run from 1-12 November in Glasgow, with a dynamic programme of hybrid and in-person events to highlight the importance of food systems in the climate change conversation.
Connecting climate change and school meals
Food for Life Scotland, a programme run by Soil Association Scotland, is proud to be involved in the series of events and will be hosting an event explaining the connection between climate change and school meals. Public procurement of sustainable and local food provides a clear path to drive transformation in food production and supply and to strengthen local economies. This means that school meals can play an important part in the solution to the connected climate, nature and health crises.
Funded by the Scottish Government, Food for Life Scotland works directly with local authorities to help them achieve the Food for Life Served Here Award. Currently, 17 Scottish local authorities hold the award at either bronze, silver or gold. This means that, within these areas, a minimum of 75% of dishes served in schools are freshly prepared from unprocessed ingredients. It is also guaranteed that meat is from farms which satisfy UK animal welfare standards; fish is from sustainable sources; eggs are from free-range hens; and there are no undesirable additives, GM ingredients or trans fats.
The quality of public sector food, from school meals to the food served in hospitals, sets the tone for the nation’s relationship with food and makes a statement about the value placed on the nation’s health. The Food for Life Scotland programme demonstrates how national governments, local governments and the third sector can work together to drive forward positive change in the food system.
Local governments leading change
On 6 November, The Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration will be presented at COP26. This is signed by dozens of local governments worldwide who are renewing their commitment to take a food system approach to the climate emergency and continue to work on adopting and implementing sustainable integrated food policies. The Declaration recognises that a huge amount of food system innovation occurs at a local level, and Food for Life Scotland is an example of this.
The Recipes for Resilience programme will showcase the variety of actors in Scotland and around the world working to transform their food system with coherent and integrated approaches. We hope that local, national and international governments take note and realise that the food system must be at the centre of the debate around climate change.
Sign up to attend an in-person interactive drop-in session with the Food for Life Scotland team focusing on the seasonality and provenance of Scottish produce on 11 November, or join an online panel discussion connecting the dots between climate change and school meals.