Reversing the long term decline of the natural environment is a complex challenge. We are generating new thinking and building powerful new alliances to support political leadership that will restore Britain’s natural environment for the future.
New markets for land and natureIn partnership with the National Trust
Agriculture is under increasing pressure to maximise production, whilst reducing its environmental impact and eliminating dependence on public subsidy. Many farming businesses are operating at the limit of their profitability, often to the detriment of soil health, water quality and biodiversity. Farmers are in a unique position to restore and protect the natural environment, but there is no commercial basis for the provision of natural services from farmland.
Food and Nature Task ForceIn partnership with Nestlé, Co-op, Sainsbury’s and Tesco
UK farmers and the food brands, caterers and supermarkets they sell to are worth over £100 billion a year to the UK economy. However, environmental degradation is harming UK food production and undermining this critical industry. Meanwhile, new trading relationships and changes to farm support after Brexit could reshape the UK’s food and farming sectors.
Challenges on this scale cannot be solved by any one company. Government action will be needed to start the process of environmental recovery, but effective long term solutions require collaboration between farmers, food manufacturers, retailers and NGOs.
Green Alliance founded the Food and Nature Task Force in late 2017 to stimulate partnerships along the food supply chain. During 2018 we will be conducting new analysis and providing insight into how Brexit could impact UK consumers, farmers and the natural environment. And we will be making recommendations based on our findings for the ‘no regrets’ options available to the government.
The current members of the Task Force are Nestlé, Co-op, Sainsbury’s and Tesco. The Task Force also receives support from Jonathan Hughes, CEO of Scottish Wildlife Trust and co-founder of the World Forum on Natural Capital, and David Fursdon, owner of Fursdon estate and chair of Beeswax Dyson Farming.
Natural investmentFutureproofing food production in the UK
Food production and agriculture are vital to the UK economy. Food prices have fallen by nearly a quarter since 1980, to the expense of the people and natural systems that produce it.
This period has also seen prolonged and severe declines in the environmental health of farmland, characterised by soil degradation and erosion, and the chronic decline of important species.
Unsustainable farming practices have created unacknowledged costs and risks for food businesses.
Our report, Natural investment: futureproofing food production in the UK, proposes a new model for policy makers, based on the concept of environmental efficiency, which enables food businesses to maintain the natural assets they depend on and bolster the long term economic resilience of the UK food and farming sector.
Flooding is a big problem in the UK and one that is getting worse with climate change. In November 2016, we revealed that England's current approach to flood risk is contradictory:
• nearly four times as much money spent on land management that ignores or even increases flood risk, than on land management that helps to prevent flooding; and • twice as much money spent on dealing with the after effects of a flood than on hard flood defences
This funding is skewed towards short-term reactive responses that ignore the central role of land management in building flood resilience. Our report, Smarter flood risk management in England: investing in resilient catchments, makes three recommendations that would lead to a greater level of resilience for either the same or lower cost than current approaches, including to establish a dedicated fund for natural flood management.
This project was supported by the John Ellerman Foundation.
The Great AccelerationHow should the UK respond to the decline of natural systems?
Our journal,Inside Track, invited Professor Will Steffen of the Stockholm Resilience Centre to describe the findings of his research into the phenomenon known as the Great Acceleration: the fast increasing impact of human activities on natural systems since 1950. It also featured articles by a former senior civil servant, the National Trust and Nestlé on how government, the public and business in the UK should respond. Sue Armstrong Brown also set out the immediate plans for Green Alliance's new Natural Environment theme.