1st November 2021

Livestock Transition How might shifts in diet, food technology, and business preferences change the game in the livestock sector? And what should farmers do to respond?

A combination of powerful trends in the food system mean that it is almost impossible to imagine that the UK’s livestock sector will look the same by the 2030s. These trends include much-discussed shifts in food technology, specifically meat and milk substitutes, combined with shifts in consumer sentiment and preferences – the rise of the flexitarian.

But many of the most powerful trends may be less in the public realm. For instance, the shift in food technology could coincide with shifts in food industry preferences. Might retailers and food manufacturers welcome meat and milk substitutes as potentially cheaper ingredients with lower food hygiene hazards or fewer cold chain requirements? Or less exposure to reputational damage, in relation to GHGs, feed sourcing, and ‘deforestation risk’?

9th September 2021

Community-led improvement and levelling up of ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods

In Partnership with Local Trust

This St George’s House consultation bought together for the first time in person a number of the participants at the 2020-21 APPG evidence sessions, together with the APPG’s key supporters and stakeholders, to explore in more detail what is effective in neighbourhood regeneration.

Foundational research by Local Trust and OCSI identifies the 225 areas in England which are perhaps the most ‘left behind’ in England. Their 2.4m residents experience the worst outcomes across a range of indicators and many of the issues they face are complex and multi-dimensional.

Understanding the issues facing ‘left behind’ communities, and helping identify solutions which reconnect and rebuild local areas and improve outcomes for their residents has been the focus of the APPG for ‘left behind’ neighbourhoods. Over the course of seven evidence sessions held from July 2020 to June 2021, it has explored issues ranging from poor connectivity, to health inequalities and education, skills and employment.

We know that there is a lot of good work being done to strengthen and support local communities at a local level – this has been a focus of many of the APPG’s evidence sessions.  But, to date, there has been little in the way of a shared national policy agenda to address the need for levelling up at a hyper-local or neighbourhood level, and respond to disparities in outcomes, particularly in relation to the social infrastructure that is so important to community life and the vibrancy of places.

7th June 2021

Exploring food systems with closer relationships

In Partnership with Food, Farming & Countryside Commission

The World Health Organisation says that one of the greatest risks to planetary and human health is a globalised and poorly regulated agri-food system. Whilst people in the UK pay some of the lowest prices for their food in Europe, the cost of that cheap food has been paid for elsewhere in society, now and for generations to come.

Global farming and food businesses argue that they have improved global health and prosperity by making more food available, more cheaply, in more places than ever before. They argue that integrated vertical supply chains bring consistency and control into a highly dispersed sector; that processing and packaging makes food more safe and secure especially in poor and isolated communities; that trusted brands help people choose food they can rely on and that many people can afford to buy the widest variety of foods ever available. They argue there is no alternative to these methods if we want to ensure that nine billion people can be fed, safely and affordably.

But the evidence is now clear that this strategy has come at too high a price. The food system has become geared towards selling cheap, ultra-processed convenience food at the lowest prices, with serious implications for people’s health and wellbeing. The costs of diet-related illnesses are not just borne by patients and their families; they are borne throughout society, from the cost to the NHS, (Type 2 diabetes alone costs £12bn) and working days lost (£15bn) through to the cost of removing the drugs that treat them
from the water supply (currently incalculable). In the UK, one of the wealthiest countries, nearly 6 million adults are experiencing food insecurity and 1.7 million children live in households that are food insecure. Food insecurity in this case is not caused by a lack of food in the system, but by the inability of people to access and afford that food, especially healthy food.

This consultation brought together diverse and complementary voices across the food system to explore and debate the mechanisms and rationale for developing food systems that deliver multiple benefits. We want to ask, what is the rationale for supporting food systems with closer relationships to the places they are located? What powers do communities need, to be able to act on their local food contexts? What policy objectives create the right conditions for these systems to flourish on a level playing field? What policies are needed to ensure that the right things happen in the right places at the right time?

9th March 2020

Developing a 10 year Transition Plan for Farming

In Partnership with Food, Farming and Countryside Commission

Farming is braced for a decade of change. With a general election just over, and Brexit getting ever closer, the future remains challenging and uncertain for UK farmers facing a new trading environment and an impending transition away from Common Agricultural Policy rules and payments. But we know an even more significant transition is coming, which is the change needed to mitigate and adapt to the climate emergency, and to restore wildlife and natural resources. Many farmers are already leading in responding to the challenges, but many others feel locked in to the current system through long term investments, circumstances and skills gaps.

We need a plan so that farmers can be confident of their future and plan for change. How can we enable farmers to take the driving seat in designing and leading the transition? What is the new financial deal for farmers that supports their wellbeing and ability to adapt? How much food will we need to produce and how do we ensure its affordability? What scenarios are likely to emerge and what support needs to be in place to accommodate them?

The actions we take together now will be vital in us avoiding the worst consequences of the climate emergency and halting the loss of wildlife we are seeing, as well as ensuring everyone has access to healthy affordable food produced in a way that enables us to meet the UK’s global obligations to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Climate Agreement.

Our Consultation built on the two year inquiry and recommendations already developed with cross sector support as part of the RSA Food, Farming and Countryside Commission and brought together a range of leaders, experts and forward looking practitioners from within the agricultural sector and beyond.

3rd March 2020

Carers and Employment

In Partnership with Carers UK

The impact of unpaid caring on the everyday life of working age people is a critical and growing issue in society. As retirement age rises, people live for longer, and social care options are reduced, many of us may find ourselves providing unpaid care for a family member or friend during our working lives. This can have severe consequences, including a struggle to balance work with caring commitments, which may lead to stress-induced health problems and ultimately voluntary or involuntary loss of employment.

Caring also impacts employers and the state through loss of skilled workers and associated revenue, as well as costs associated with recruitment and unplanned absences. Through advocacy by Carers UK and Employers for Carers, policymakers and employers have begun to implement change to improve carers’ rights and available support in the workplace but more needs to be done.

To read the full consultation report click here.

20th February 2020

Making the Best Use of Our Land

In partnership with Food, Farming and Countryside Commission

From climate change to housing and infrastructure, land is often the unspoken but decisive element in policy debate. Yet this debate is too often siloed and too rarely focussed on the potential for land to deliver multiple benefits. The July report of the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission advocated a land use framework that could mediate between different uses of the land, encouraging and incentivising multifunctionality. The Commission is now entering its next phase, co-designing pilots to test the policy recommendations made in our report. The aim of this consultation was to bring together those working on the land with senior policy makers and others to take part in this co-design, shaping how a land use framework would work in practice and beginning to plan a pilot.

For the full consultation report click here.

16th January 2020

Climate Change among the Religions: A Forum for Engagement

In Partnership with Coexist House, the Lincoln Theological Institute (The University of Manchester) and the Reckitt Trust

What is the Forum trying to do? Informed by expertise on climate change, its aim was to create an event of mutual learning between and among religious traditions, and thereby inspire fresh action by religious communities. In other words, their aim was to support fresh thinking and action in the context of anthropogenic climate change at all levels in religious institutions.

In support of this aim, the forum had three objectives:

    1. To explore how religious traditions have interacted practically with and learned theoretically about climate change,  in order to evaluate difficulties that religious traditions have in engaging with climate change.
    2. To assess issues that inhibit action by religious communities in favour of climate change mitigation and adaptation.
    3. To devise practical strategies to address these issues.

To meet these objectives the Forum invited expert representatives from

  1. a range of religious traditions,
  2. scientific expertise,
  3. policy and institutional leadership.

The Forum had four outcomes:

  1. The building of confidence within and between religious traditions in the wisdom of aspects of their thought and life to make a contribution to change—personal, communal, social and global—in the context of climate change.
  2. Through a process of mutual exchange, to identify more clearly obstacles to religious engagement with climate change.
  3. To equip key change makers to generate change in their institutions.
  4. To provide an educational resource/legacy to support further processes of change.

The Forum is not interested in a parade of the ecological credentials of religious traditions. Such work has already been undertaken. Nor is the Forum concerned to provide an inventory of the pro-ecological activities of religious traditions—although this work is very helpful and the Forum seeks to enhance such work.

Instead, the Forum wanted to identify and address key questions that both support and inhibit engagement by religious traditions with climate change and our climate emergency. For example, do religious traditions have novel ways of supporting intergenerational solidarity? To what extent should religious adherents engage in political processes beyond voting and advocacy—especially acts of witness, lament, and even Non-Violent Direct Action? In the light of Extinction Rebellion, can disruptive action be affirmed? Religious traditions have regulations about food and diet: given the ecological costs of food production, are there religious obstacles to changes in diets but also religious resources for thinking differently about food production? Are religious traditions so strongly invested in the distinctiveness of the human that acknowledging the value of the non-human is difficult? Are there deep commitments in religious traditions that undermine the sense that the earth is “home”?

12th December 2019

Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues Consultation: Character and Sport

In Partnership with The Jubilee Centre For Character & Virtues

Character and Sport are linked; linked in the media, linked in practice, and linked in education. Sport builds character, or so the myth goes. Practising sport builds resilience, determination, self-discipline, teamwork, and a whole host of other virtues, whether you are kicking a football around on a field with jumpers for goalposts, or playing elite sport and competing in the Athletics World Championships in Doha. We don’t test this, it is taken as read. Elite sportsmen and sportswomen speak of ‘showing character’ in their performances, and pundits, journalists, and fans comment on the lack of character when it is absent from performances, or evident in scandals of questionable behaviour, or win-at-all-costs mentalities.

So what is ‘character’ in sport? Does watching, participating in, and teaching and coaching sport need a moral dimension? How does one learn about respect and fairness? How do you coach someone the ‘spirit of the game’? The Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues has previously found that participating in sports is not necessarily a precursor to developing ‘good’ moral reasoning when presented with moral dilemmas, any more than participating in drama or choir is (Arthur et al., 2015). However, sport does have a hold over young people in terms of having a positive influence on their conception of what it means to live a ‘good life’ (Arthur et al., 2017). This consultation sought to bring together those researching, teaching, and delivering sport-based programmes in the community to discuss the place of a moral focus in sport, and how this can help individuals and communities flourish.

The full report from the consultation can be read here

3rd December 2019

Creating a long term plan for our country’s education system – a new approach

In Partnership with the Foundation for Education Development

You will be well aware that education policy in England is currently set by central government and driven by ministers of state. Over the past 60 years in England, the average tenure of a Secretary of State for Education has been two years. As a result, education policy has been determined primarily by the preferences of the incumbent Secretary of State and is more often than not, politically motivated.

The Foundation is convinced that a co-constructed  approach to research, development and setting of education policy is pivotal to an education system’s progress over time and we need your support to help make a once in a lifetime change that will leave an enduring legacy for many generations to come. 

The Foundation for Education Development is a newly established body which has already carried out informal discussions with leading representatives across the sectors. We would like to engage in this vitally important non-political joint initiative which aims to create a neutral space where we can explore how we might create a better future for our country’s education system.

17th November 2019

Post-Liberal Renewal

The last few decades have been dominated by social and economic liberalism. The economic and political shocks of the recession and the vote to leave the EU have exposed the limitations of this consensus. Blue Labour and Red Tory provided initial accounts of the crisis and a possible way out, but neither has yet generated lasting change. The political space in the country still exists, however, and this Windsor gathering bought together senior thinkers across the political aisle to clarify our diagnosis and begin to build a movement to respond to the contemporary challenges we face.