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Devon County Council recognised for climate ‘leadership’

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We’ve been called a ‘pioneering authority’ by one of Britain’s top sustainability charities for our partnership work to reduce emissions and waste in food and farming in Devon.

Sustain advocates food and agricultural policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals and improve the environment.

In Britain the food system contributes a third of all UK greenhouse gases, so Sustain looked at 200 UK local authorities to see how local authorities are tackling the climate and nature emergency through food.

And in their Every Mouthful Helps report Sustain found that the majority of councils omitted food and farming from their climate plans entirely.

We are just one 20 council areas that has in place ‘measurable’ policies to cut emissions from food.

Sustain said that better performing councils like us have a range of policies and initiatives ranging from education and improving health outcomes to encouraging communities to reduce emissions and eat locally sourced produce and partnerships with producers.

The examples cited by Sustain include a range of partnerships where we have taken a lead.

These include Devon Climate Emergency that includes 24 other public and private organisations, Recycle Devon, which includes all Devon’s upper-tier local authorities, and the Devon Food Partnership.

DCC’s annual Farm Wise event is one example of how we have worked in partnership to help educate the next generation of farmers.

Each year local farmers and producers interact with schoolchildren on subjects ranging from animal husbandry to the importance of taking care of the land through sustainable practices.

While Community Action Groups Devon (CAG Devon) project, delivered by Recycle Devon, is an example of how whole communities have been helped to reduce carbon emissions.

Through the project, groups have saved over 32 tonnes of food from waste – that’s equivalent to 40 supermarket delivery vans, enough to feed a family of four for 10 years.

And on a strategic level we are also a lead partner in the Devon Food Partnership. This partnership includes producers and farmers, the voluntary sector, environmental groups, and academic institutions.

Its goal is to ensure that everyone in Devon has access to nutritious, affordable, local, sustainably produced food.

Councillor Andrea Davis, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport, said:

“I am pleased that Sustain has recognised the work of DCC and our partners in developing an effective, local sustainable local food strategy.

“We recognise that this is not only key in tackling climate change and realising our ambitions in the Devon Carbon Plan to become a net-zero county by 2030, but to address the issues of food poverty, diet-related ill health, food waste and unsustainable farming practices.

 “The report gives many examples of initiatives from other councils that we can learn from. There is a great deal to do, and we will continue to work with our partners to ensure the best outcome for everyone in Devon.”

Sustain said: “Some councils are doing commendably well, despite growing pressure on limited resources, and deserve recognition as leaders in their field.

“The report provides evidence of councils’ ability to act, with pioneering authorities including Devon taking action…

“Many of the leading councils were found to be working with a Sustainable Food Partnership. Places with food partnerships scored on average 11% higher in this research, and were found to have more measurable and comprehensive plans to protect our planet’s – and our own – future through food.”