23 May 2016: London borough installs solar panels over marketplace

The London borough of Hounslow has installed 6000 solar panels over the rooftop of Western International wholesale market – it is the biggest solar scheme by any local authority – and has the added advantage of storing energy in batteries on-site.

You can read more – and see a photograph – here


10 May 2016: short film – why do we need to change our food system?

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Fondation Nicolas Hulot (FNH) and the International Urban Food Network (IUFN) have produced a short film that explains why there is an urgent need  for action towards more sustainable food systems. It was produced as part of the Climate Change Urban Food Initiative launched in late 2015 by UNEP, FNH, IUFN.

It’s worth a few minutes of your time – you can see it here

30 December 2015 -what could be important for food and agriculture in 2016

Food Tank has just published a list of 16 stories they predict will be  food and agriculture trends in 2016. These include:

  • the UN FAO’s Liberation project which promotes ecological intensification – increasing yields through ecosystem services, rather than external inputs – as a critical way of achieving more food security with less environmental damage; and
  • the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition’s work on food sustainability, including it’s youth manifesto which aims to get young people involved

Recognition of the key role of women farmers, of food workers’ fights for fair pay and labour rights, and of the role of sustainable diets are also flagged up.

You can read the full list and find more details here

18 August 2015 – why social inequality persists. New book on ‘Injustice’by Danny Dorling

Danny Dorling‘s latest book – ‘Injustice’ (the new edition is published by Policy Press) – examines the shocking increases in poverty, hunger and destitution in the UK (see also this blog 13 March 2015 on how England is increasingly divided between the rich and poor). The new edition explores how social inequality occurs when resources are unevenly distributed and makes the point that ‘the richest 1% of people in the world will, within a few months, own more than the other 99% put together’, and that economic inequalities  will continue to grow for as long as we tolerate the injustices which underpin them.

The book examines five social tenets of injustice  – elitism, exclusion, prejudice, greed and despair – including the myths that support the rise of social and economic inequality. It challenges the mantra that without growth we will all be doomed . It also highlights the relationship between inequality and climate change.

You can read more about the book – including a downloadable taster – here

You may also be interested in the Discover Society website which has plenty to read on this and many other topics.

14 August 2015 – food waste – what’s happening?

Cutting food waste by a quarter would mean enough food for everyone, says the United Nations – this is the headline for an article by Kate Lyons in the Guardian, published  on 12 August. This points out how ‘each year 1.3bn tonnes of food, about a third of all that is produced, is wasted, including about 45% of all fruit and vegetables, 35% of fish and seafood, 30% of cereals, 20% of dairy products and 20% of meat. Meanwhile, 795 million people suffer from severe hunger and malnutrition.

And another new study on food waste by D. Vanham and colleagues was also published this week by the Joint Research Centre at the European Commission. One of the main findings of this study (based on data from 6 EU countries) was that the average EU consumer wastes 16% of food – averaged for all EU citizens, this translates into 47 million tonnes of avoidable food waste annually – much of which could be avoided.

Food waste is happening in countries where people can afford to throw food away.  There are some positive changes as a result of growing consumer awareness and the Guardian article points out that the amount of avoidable food waste produced by UK households decreased by 21% between 2007-12. This blog also covered how France is making it illegal for large supermarkets to throw away edible food as part of a series of measures to cut down on waste (see 23 May).  However, as Dr David Moon, head of food sustainability at Wrap UK says “for every 2 tonnes of food and drink consumed in the home, there’s another tonne of food going to waste at some point in the chain – whether that’s production, retail or manufacturing.

Food waste remains one of the greatest challenges we face to achieving food security for all.

You can read the Guardian article here

You can read the EC’s JRC report here

24 June 2015 – climate change, health and nutrition – what works? two new reports

Two new reports look at issues connected with climate change, health and nutrition, albeit from slightly different perspectives. The first, published by the Lancet/UCL Commission, examines climate change and the policy response to protect public health.  This concludes  that tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century. The second, Policies and actions to shift eating patterns: What works? published by the Food Climate Research Network (FCRN) considers what works when it comes to shifting diets in more sustainable and healthy directions. This report finds ‘ strong potential compatibility between diets that have lower environmental impacts and those better for health, both at the national and at the global aggregate level.’

You can read the full report from the Lancet/UCL Commission here

You can read the FCRN report here and there is a lively, informative interview with Tara Garnett, one of the report’s authors on the Global Food Security blog here