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The Prince of Wales sends message to milestone event calling for global framework to measure farm sustainability

The Sustainable Food Trust (SFT), a PWCF grant beneficiary, has partnered with leading UK retailers, farming organisations, banks, investors and NGOs to form the Global Farm Metric – a coalition calling for an international common framework for measuring the sustainability of food and farming systems.

The initiative is being launched today (29th April 2021) with a virtual TEDx event, featuring contributions from HRH The Prince of Wales, NFU President Minette Batters, National Food Strategy Lead Henry Dimbleby, Morrisons CEO David Potts and SFT CEO Patrick Holden. The event comes in the run up to COP26 amid growing concerns over the impact of food production on climate change and the need for fresh approaches to how we feed ourselves.

The Sustainable Food Trust are joining with leading UK retailers, farming organisations, banks, investors and NGOs to launch the Global Farm Metric - a coalition proposing a radical rethink of how we measure food and farm sustainability in the run-up to COP26 this November.

With talks at a virtual TEDx event this week, titled ‘Farming and Climate Change: Measuring Success’, the much-anticipated event sets out calls for a Global Farm Metric - an internationally standardised framework for measuring the sustainability of farming and food production. The framework provides farms across the world with a new way of measuring sustainability and will empower farmers to play their part in driving the transition to more sustainable food systems worldwide.

The Sustainable Food Trust’s Patron and long-time advocate for sustainable farming systems, HRH The Prince of Wales said in a video message aired at the virtual event: “As Patron of the Sustainable Food Trust, I am delighted to be able to contribute to this “Countdown to COP 26” virtual TEDx event and to add my support – alongside a growing number of food businesses, N.G.O.s, banks, investors and others –  to their work in developing what has the potential to become an internationally harmonized framework for measuring farm sustainability.”

Speaking about the need for an international framework, he said: “The development of a common global language for measuring farm sustainability, as we already have for accounting protocols, will be absolutely crucial if we are to mark our progress beyond COP 26 in the countdown towards net zero, or as close to this as we can get in relation to our food production systems. That is why my Sustainable Markets Initiative has set up expert and practitioner-led Roundtable discussion and, specifically, a Task Force on Land Use, Agriculture and Food which will be adopting this framework as a means of benchmarking agricultural sustainability and, crucially, accounting properly for the real, and often hidden, environmental costs of industrialized agriculture through the “polluter pays” principle.”

The new metric is long-overdue for a sector that, as of yet, has lacked a common framework for measuring sustainability. The benefits have the potential to be far reaching, helping governments measure and incentivise sustainable food production, supporting farmers to understand their impacts and transition to more sustainable practices, equipping the financial community to make eco-friendly investment decisions, determine what supermarkets and food companies buy from farms, as well as helping consumers understand how sustainable their food is.

Speaking ahead of the event, Sustainable Food Trust CEO, Patrick Holden CBE said, “We are delighted that His Royal Highness accepted our invitation to take part in this milestone event. The fact that he is participating seems particularly appropriate, bearing in mind his lifelong commitment to the cause of sustainable agriculture and the environment. He has been a supporter of the important initiative to develop a harmonised global framework for measuring agricultural sustainability from the very beginning and has been a participant in farm trials at Highgrove in Gloucestershire, on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk, and at his Foundation’s headquarters at Dumfries House in Scotland.”

The group’s call for an internationally harmonised framework is a timely response to concerns of environmental and farming groups that large-scale farming practices are having devastating impacts on climate change and biodiversity, affecting the nutritional content of food and negatively impacting public health.

Also speaking at the event, Minette Batters, President of the National Farmers Union said: “It has been fascinating and rewarding to work together across all sectors on a harmonised set of sustainability metrics. Farmers can be part of the solution to climate change, but for this to happen it is really important that we own the evidence base for what we are doing on-farm, to look at where there are things we can change and adapt and also where we can lead globally.”

Notes to Editors

Global Farm Metric coalition supporters: 

DEFRA, The Prince of Wales’s Charitable Fund, Tesco, Waitrose & Partners, Morrisons, Sainsbury's, Natwest, Rothschild Foundation, WWF, McDonalds, Arla, Welsh Government, National Farmers Union (NFU), Soil Association, Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), Food, Farming & Countryside Commission, Linking Environment & Farming (LEAF), The Ashden Trust, Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Wrap and Sustainable Wines of Great Britain

About the Sustainable Food Trust:

The Sustainable Trust is a UK-based charity working to accelerate the transition to more sustainable food systems globally. It was founded in 2011 by Patrick Holden CBE, former director of the Soil Association and the SFT’s current chief executive.

For further information, please contact: Megan Perry, Head of Communications, Sustainable Food Trust - 07761804341 megan@sustainablefoodtrust.org

Kristiana Papi, Associate, di:ga communications 07572382252 and kristiana.papi@digacommunications.com