Meeting our global obligations

10th October 2018

Food, Farming and Countryside Commission roundtable discussion paper, October 2018

This paper is the result of a roundtable discussion that took place in September 2018 at the RSA on the theme of ‘Our place in the world: global perspectives on UK food, farming and countryside.’ The discussion formed the basis of our thinking about the UK’s international role on issues such as climate change, human rights and trade. Combined with insights gained from the bike tour and call for ideas, this paper helps to show how we arrived at the content of our progress report, and in particular the proposals in Chapter 1: ‘Meeting our global obligations’.


What do we want the UK’s role to be in the world, in response to the big global challenges that face us? Not only in terms of those problems we have helped create, like climate change, but in terms of how we can help share the burden and gains from providing lasting solutions? Will this be helped or hindered as the UK develops its own trading policy and negotiates new trading relationships?

At a time of heightened, often polarised, debate, the UK Government is making far-reaching decisions on critical areas, including our relationship with the EU, how we manage borders and migration and redefining our trading relationships with the rest of the world. Once outside of the governing EU structures, there is also huge pressure to understand how the four nations of the UK work together. Divisive debates, inflamed by misdirection and misunderstandings, characterise our public discourse about the impact of a more globalised world, our role in it and the ways in which we can bring our influence to bear for public benefit. Ultimately, as Professor Tim Benton says, the challenge for policymakers is to “navigate the complexity, in particular by avoiding the risk of downside lock-in whilst identifying a vision for the UK food system that optimises across the various economic, social and environmental imperatives in a socially and politically acceptable manner.” ¹

These are deeply emotive issues — from food prices and the role of subsidies to dietary, health and cultural links — and people’s relationship with food and the countryside are complex.

Inevitably there has been a focus in Commission debate and conversations around trade. After we leave the EU, the major interdependencies between how we trade and how we define our role in the world will be in sharper focus. In one scenario, we aim for more global trade through lowering standards and we take a less proactive stance in global agreements on sustainable development or poverty. Another scenario could be one of leadership and closer engagement with other countries — setting a high bar for our global trade, investing in shorter chains and ensuring resource and health protection, maintaining and strengthening employment standards — via a ‘proofing’ approach. We could pioneer more values-based trade rules for instance based on animal welfare or precautionary approaches and work with other countries to build consensus. System based thinking and regenerative approaches in land use are key. The UK has been a supportive partner in shaping international progressive thinking around food and farming– in formulating the SDGs, in climate change discussions and so on. Will it continue?

As many contributors have noted, the role of government is one area of action, but how far can businesses also play a positive global role? Progressive actions have been noted as has the collective responsibility being taken by some major corporations. But the outcomes are miniscule compared to need. The role of citizens and consumers in driving change pivots on many factors including awareness and understanding. This will hinge on more and more effective engagement and transparency for instance in trade policy and deals.

The global impact of trade, policies and new status after Brexit

As the UK’s food and agricultural sectors are intricately linked to European Union membership — in terms of access to markets and labour supply but also policy — so the future of the food and farming system will be heavily affected by the final deal. Equally, EU legislation and institutions provide a strong regulatory framework governing the environmental and other standards of food produced and consumed in the UK. How we finally translate those regulations into UK law will be key.

A future trading nation

As a nation, we rely hugely on trade. Although we have a trade surplus in services, we have a trade deficit in goods and a deficit overall. In 2016, the UK exported £548 billion and imported £591 billion worth of goods and services, more than half of which were traded with the EU. Although the UK is 60% self-sufficient in food (and 75% in ‘indigenous-type foods’, i.e. those that can be produced in the UK), 30% of the food consumed in the UK comes from the EU, 4% from each of Asia, Africa, North and South America. We also rely heavily on imported inputs such as feeds, seeds and fertilisers. Given their reliance on the EU, tariff-free access to EU trade from the UK is a top priority for the UK food industry as well as maintaining a single market free of barriers to trade, like standards and border checks.² Divergence by the UK in standards will create problems for the food industry.

The UK (but, significantly in this context, Scotland) also exports over £22 billion worth of food and drink with the top exports by value being whiskey, meat and dairy products, and salmon. Half of the exports go to EU countries. A no-deal scenario would have major impacts for many exporters but particularly lamb and beef. Finding alternative — possibly far flung — markets for these products — at either high value or low value price points will be key. Already, we hear, the European ‘light lamb’ buyers are anticipating Brexit changes and turning away from Welsh products, towards Spanish and other producers.

Given this uncertainly, we need to understand better how new trade agreements could help or hinder a positive progressive global role for the UK both with the EU and with the rest of the world. How different trade deals will affect our international commitments as well as the role UK markets and corporations play in influencing change. From the conversations so far, it is clear we need new public capacity to understand and influence trade policy after largely leaving it to the EU for decades.


The EU maintains some of the highest standards in the world — including labour, animal welfare, safety and environmental.³ A recent IPPR report found that almost two-thirds of UK respondents wanted continued alignment with EU consumer, employment and environmental standards rather than reducing them.⁴ Many of these standards relate to land management and food production.

We urgently need clarity over standards as the current position is confused: we won’t drop standards, but conversely we have to when we liberalise trade. Several contributors to the Call for Ideas, many farmers and others have argued that future trade agreements with countries should ensure that the UK market isn’t flooded with cheap but low quality, low welfare, environmentally damaging food and that these considerations might be overlooked in the race to secure trade agreements for other sectors of the economy. Without the same bargaining power in trade agreements, the UK is likely to be placed in a position in which more powerful trading blocks use agriculture as a bargaining chip, offering lower tariffs on major UK exports such as financial services if we accept food produced to a lower standard than the EU demands. One leading report predicts a fall in standards if the UK leaves the EU under all scenarios except where a UK-EU free trade agreement is signed, and no new deals are made outside the EU.⁵

There is much media and political hype around food prices, with some advocating a cheaper food policy and cheaper imports.⁶ There is better recognition now of the real costs of ‘cheap food’ and that though foodbank use has increased dramatically the drivers are largely low incomes, precarious work and changes to the benefits payment system. Cheaper food doesn’t solve the problem of access, let alone the wider issue of the diet-related health burden on the NHS, which we discuss in our other paper on health ‘Good food for healthy and flourishing communities’.

News stories have alerted the public on what would happen if the US had its way: chlorine-washed chicken, GM foods and biotech seeds, and more pesticides in our food, and so on. The US has made clear which barriers to trade it wants to remove in the 2018 National Trade Estimate Report on Foreign Trade Barriers. Yet if farmers are pushed quickly to compete against cheaper food imported from outside the country, they will either need to be heavily subsidised to maintain standards at current levels, produce more expensive premium products (which have a limited market), drop standards, or go under.

Defra Secretary Michael Gove stated we will compromise food standards “over my dead body”⁷ as lowering standards in food and animal welfare is deeply unpopular. But some commentators argue that the government has crafted a (so far) private compromise between the Michael Gove and Liam Fox camps in which the ‘Great British’ brand is high welfare, whereas imported food is ‘cheap’, allowing the ‘market’ or the ‘consumer’ to decide. The confusing ministerial narratives and statements on this are hugely harmful especially for business planning and there needs to be coherence in the government approach.

All of this reflects on our global role given the impact of trade. We need to rewrite the core aims around trade policy, which are primarily focused on achieving greater trade liberalisation, to be subject to wider objectives like climate, poverty alleviation and maintaining high standards. We also need to shift from seeing trade as an international phenomenon first and foremost to a focus on local markets. One long term idea was that you could have a passporting system where businesses investing in good practices here can get more access to the benefits of global trade.

How could the UK, alone, drive trade policy towards sustainability? One suggestion was that, in collaboration with the EU we could argue that WTO members impose tariffs on food and feed imports whose agricultural systems are not addressing GHG emissions (i.e. it is a hidden subsidy). We could develop this collaboratively with countries affected by climate change and inequality now. Now that we are leaving a major trading and influence block we need to build new alliances. It has also been stressed that the UK should be bolder at the WTO in defending standards (phytosanitary etc) and it has a track record in some areas like animal welfare rules.

Democratic deficit

These ideas would benefit from better Public discourse, but this so often neglects the complexities on trade. But does the wider public care enough, or could they care enough, to bring their voices to the debate?

Since MPs are not currently party to proposed deals nor involved in deciding trade policy, the democratic deficit extends to Parliament itself. Even if our parliamentary representatives know what we are concerned about they have little say. Given the huge role global trade will have in future, the Commission could also argue this has to change. We need elected representatives informed, closely involved in and able to veto trade policy and negotiations and deals. The possible scenario — that we have no deal and revert to WTO rules for all trading until we agree new trading relationships — has severe consequences for food and farming.

Two bills are before parliament — the Trade Bill and the Taxation (cross border trade) Bills — which set out how we will manage current trade deals and tariff issues after we leave. Some MPs and the Trade Democracy Coalition⁸ aim to democratise UK trade policy and ensure that deals are made in the interests of people and planet. They have put forward a number of proposals which include requiring transparency, full parliamentary debate and a vote on agreements before they come into force. The Commission may want to support this call and even go further in suggesting greater public engagement.⁹ In response to demands for better consultation, the International Trade Secretary of State Liam Fox announced in July four consultations on possible trade deals that he hopes to conclude first — with the US, Australia, New Zealand and to join the new Trans Pacific Partnership.

New policies and regulations that affect our global role

In addition to the trade bills, we have the UK draft proposals for an EU deal, and an Agriculture Bill and Fisheries Bill consultations. These provide indicators of how the government sees our global role going forward.

The Health and Harmony Command paper¹⁰ — on future agriculture policy out of the EU Common Agriculture Policy — proposed a transitional arrangement and a ‘public money for public goods’ approach to farm support. Many stakeholders agree this outcome-based approach will probably be acceptable under the WTO Agreement on Agriculture — which sets trade rules on agriculture support, market access and export subsidies — unless we stray too far out of the rules or budget both of which are unlikely. The paper contained a short chapter on trade describing “a golden opportunity to help our farmers to grow more, sell more and export more great British food, building on our high quality brand” and the contentions statement that “We will adopt a trade approach which promotes industry innovation and lower prices for consumers.”¹¹

We currently export much of the fish we catch. The Fisheries White Paper — ‘Sustainable Fisheries for Future Generations’¹² — sketches out plans for an upcoming Fisheries Bill that will set out how the UK plans to manage its fishing waters once it leaves the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy. Fishing communities welcomed the paper but it is light on detail and whilst it commits to addressing marine conservation issues and overfishing, experts have noted, that promising a greater share of fish stocks to UK fishers risks both sustainability goals and international conflict.¹³

A new Environment Act (with a new ‘watchdog’) has been announced with a consultation¹⁴ on how to replace the principles, protections, monitoring, oversight and accountability currently provided by Europe. This needs to include greater detail and action on our future global role and impact including climate to reflect the aim for “our country to be recognised as the leading global champion of a greener, healthier, more sustainable future for the next generation.” The roundtable discussions made clear we should do far more to ensure our food and farming system does not contribute to global environmental and related social crises (such as access to water, renewable energy and sustainable food). Nor that environmental rules and standards (such as those managing pesticide use or nature protection) should be undermined by increased trade in goods from countries with lower environmental (or labour, or food safety and welfare) standards.

Four nations divided?

Devolved issues matter and need public debate: creating policy from the centre is no longer an option. Brexit has meant the four governments of the UK — Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Westminster — have had to reflect on and understand far better what their relationships are and how they want to manage their own policy and budgets especially on farming. The devolution arrangements of the late 1990s were designed to function within membership of the EU¹⁵ and are no longer fit for purpose. Allowing the devolved nations to follow the distinctive and different directions of travel on food, farming and countryside issues will be key within a four-national trade framework. The Irish Border remains a critical, practical as well as political sticking point in Brexit negotiations.

Given these trade and policy uncertainties, can the UK contribute to and support a principled and progressive international role on issues such as climate change and human rights?

What are the global challenges?

As the fifth largest economy on the planet and a significant player in many global debates and developments, the UK has played a key part in furthering sustainable development. As a single nation, how should it now be joining or driving global efforts to reduce climate emissions, alleviate poverty, protect fragile ecosystems, and reduce war and conflict and support reconciliation processes?

These are not simply altruistic goals; it is in the UK’s best interests to protect its citizens from the short and long-term impacts of ecological, economic and social instability. Equally we need to listen to and respect the needs and voices of those countries and communities who rarely get a fair deal on the global stage.

Poverty and food related diseases

For the first time in a decade, the overall number of people who are undernourished has increased — from 777 million people in 2015, to 815 million in 2016. Yet we are producing enough food right now to feed about 10 billion people and we have rapidly rising levels of dietary related diseases of overconsumption. Tackling obesity epidemic worldwide and the potential loss of antibiotics for medicine via overuse in livestock farming are two priority areas for urgent action. Successful UK regulation to curb junk food marketing — the sugary drinks tax being one example — has global ramifications and we need to go further on this and to reduce farm antibiotic misuse. Should this also extend to farm support — driving production in a new healthy direction?

Addressing conflict, poverty, inequality and equitable access to food and the means to produce food are also key.

A key takeaway from the roundtable on our global role was for the UK to enhance food security but not at the expense of food security elsewhere. Of note is the large UK global footprint¹⁶ including via our land take (from food, fibre, fuel, timber and other imports), greenhouse gas emissions, water, minerals and so on. Our impact is significant,¹⁷ and needs tackling via demand reduction and substitution strategies. If we reduce standards and/or import more after Brexit we will just ‘offshore’ more of those impacts. We could be supporting initiatives such as the Eat Forum global partnership¹⁸ and working with partners to initiate new programmes especially on western consumption patterns which is lacking.

Climate change

Climate change already affects food availability in some regions and the UNFCC predicts a far great impact via extreme weather, gradual changes and disruption on natural systems. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has predicted up to 2% yield loss in farming per decade¹⁹. The UK played a pivotal role in setting up global and national commitments to reduce GHG emissions to address the growing threat.²⁰

Yet the UK is responsible for a large share of historical and current emissions and could do more and aim for a net zero carbon economy.²¹ The UK has had a poor record in addressing land based and agriculture emissions and are far behind other countries in promoting low carbon diets. The remit of the Climate Change Act should be extended to adequately cover new challenges including consumption and land-based emissions (which would require mapping of all UK land use here and overseas). One suggestion was that we make every public employee responsible for delivering climate change action in their work.

Our new position out of a major trading block will affect our ability to influence but we should be aiming to push for a strengthening of the Paris agreement and prioritising climate action above trade issues. WTO rules don’t leave room for the environment (with a few exceptions) so we need the political will to push for giving the Paris agreement same status as Kyoto protocol and giving those agreements/protocols precedence over trade deals.

Biodiversity and ecosystems

The equally huge global challenge of protecting biodiversity loss and protecting ecosystem services has been a poorer cousin in terms of solid action and global commitments and outcomes.²² Current rates of extinction are about 1000 times the likely background rate and tree cover loss is accelerating.²³ The UK supports programmes like the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)²⁴ but the drivers of global biodiversity loss are largely linked to issues of continued inequality and poverty and of over consumption, conflict and poor governance. Over-extraction, intensity, expansion of farming, climate change and so on fall out from these.

As noted the UK draws heavily on global land for feeds, fuel and fibres and consumes fish from around the world which has a huge impact on marine biodiversity, we will need to make significant measures to reduce UK demand and to maintain and enhance a progressive UK role — out of the often-progressive European regional grouping — to influence global decisions and treaties.

Policies for progressive global leadership

It is clear the UK must be less extractive and more nurturing of healthy production and wise use. This means:

  • A strong and well enforced Environment Act that includes global targets and agendas;
  • A new visionary Agriculture Act that drives new farm systemic approach and import substitution;
  • Policies that reduces or changes UK consumption including of food, fibre and wood to address our global demand and makes UK led global investments e.g. in land transparent and subject to impact proofing and regulation.

We need new investment in soils and trees — in order to have the low carbon supply and to achieve a level of sustainable import substitution e.g. in horticulture where we have lost much capacity. There is not enough focus it was felt on the long-term resilience and tackling planetary boundaries such as nitrogen fertiliser overuse or antibiotics. There is a need to focus on ecological, climate adapting solutions here, not just in smallholder agriculture internationally and to enhance the diversity of agriculture not just biologically but socially. Tackling unsustainable demand will require a whole new set of measures in the medium term.

We should climate and biodiversity ‘proof’ every programme and major spend in the BEIS Industrial strategy. All research funding, training and education should focus on making farming and food production more resilient, not focused on marginal gains. Key areas were considered to be around whole systems and methods of food growing and rearing that deliver solutions — to build in long term emission reductions and ecosystem protection. We need a strong focus on internalising costs assessment and on life cycle assessments and this could be a core element of industrial strategy.

Done well, our new legislation and the agri-food restructuring that results could help deliver on global challenges. We could also be supporting calls for a new legally binding global compact on biodiversity and ensure all those affected have a say.²⁵ Voluntary action is often far too slow and ineffective against national and supranational vested interests.

Sustainability assessments on policy especially trade deals and that would include mitigations and adaption proofing — and biodiversity proofing.

The need to consider sustainability in the round is key. We have signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) — a collection of 17 global goals, and 169 targets devised to achieve sustainable development. Many are relevant to food, farming and the countryside.²⁶ These commitments are non-binding so could be ineffective. Yet they represent the best consensus the world has at present, on actions needed to halt serious ecological and planetary consequences. Implementation is often through complementary national frameworks; the UK has chosen to achieve this through existing polices.²⁷

As a 2018 UKSSD assessment²⁸ indicates we have achieved too little so far in food and environment related areas it is clear we need urgent action. Public engagement and support for these goals is currently low which means government feels little pressure. The UK should also review the potential impacts of trade deals on achieving the SGDs and publish the findings. To ensure we tackle some of the drivers of harm, the UK be championing the Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations on human rights.²⁹

UK aid programmes and global development work should be promoting systems that benefit farmers, animal health and welfare rather than favour export-led revenue generation or enhance consumption of increasingly processed foodstuffs. We need to step back and give beneficiaries more control in how they design research and outreach on farm systems and put more focus on ensuring smallholders globally can survive and thrive.

Another source of government leverage is better public procurement stipulating higher standards in products from the land, driving new lower global impact procurement (e.g. less and better meat, reusable timber etc) and providing new markets for SMEs for instance. A lot of companies — including those the government procures from — are not even meeting their basic legal obligations on modern slavery, let along the reporting requirements. This needs a strong cross departmental approach, new training and budget and achieve far more than many previous attempts to enhance procurement strategies.

The commission has heard demands for more fiscal incentives to drive change. There was support in making these legal requirements or compulsory with the possibility of using life cycle impact assessments. It was noted that bans and taxation can work — 5p charges for plastic bags saw a 95% drop in their use.

The UK could strengthen mandatory company reporting so that reporting (which can drive action) covers key global issues like biodiversity, resource use, GHG, living incomes.

A limiting factor is the auditing gap — what can’t be measures and assessed will not be done. There an enforcement crisis, like a one in 250-year chance of an employment inspection visit. Government needs to ensure there is the capacity to pursue and invest in enforcement.

How can we ensure good governance and fair play globally?

Can the UK have a positive role alone in setting and demonstrating good practice?

Three areas where the UK demonstrates its leadership role on the international stage: modern slavery, animal welfare, fair trading. The 2016 Modern Slavery Act requires that businesses with a turnover of over £36m to publish an annual statement of confirming their efforts to reduce slavery and trafficking in their supply chains. This policy is the first of its kind within Europe and is a first step to be proud of but there is a huge gap in enforcement capacity on this and labour law.

Much is made of the UK’s animal welfare rules and there is no doubt we have a higher baseline than global meat trade rules. There are concerns that the Agriculture Act may be weak on welfare and standards could be severely undermined by trade deals where rules on welfare and health measures or food safety in livestock farming are seen by some countries as barriers to trade. The Commission has heard consistent calls for the political will to prevent imports of products produced to methods we deem cruel and to set new precedents under WTO disputes.

The UK has a unique set of rules around fair play in supermarket trading with first tier suppliers. After years of campaigning by civil society organisations — concerned that farmers were unable to invest in more sustainable farming because the deal they were getting at the farm gate was unfair — the Grocery Code Adjudicator (GCA) Act was passed. The GCA enforces a strong Code of Practice for the top grocery retailers. When grocers break the rules the GCA can investigate, expose and impose fines. Whilst not perfect or comprehensive (it does not cover prices or the whole supply chain) it is seen as good practice globally and the EU has now proposed similar, more thorough legislation to curb abuse in the EU supply chains. The UK is opposing the EU stance as it is unwilling to interfere with contract law in to protect SMEs against larger businesses. And as the EU adopts our approach will we have to weaken ours in response to a new era of freer trade? The GCA — whilst an example of UK leadership — is severely limited by its current legal remit. We need regulation of more of the supply chain and ensuring all food trading relationships UK and overseas are fair.

Wider competition and contract law reform has been identified as important in Commission debates. Ensuring a living income or wage is a challenge for suppliers and whilst the national minimum wage provides a helpful, if low, baseline it doesn’t cover self-employment income for farmers. Bringing players together to agree to raise standards would help but can clash with competition law so we could reform competition rules to allow companies to talk together about farm gate price. Reintroducing a public interest test in competition law, not only consumer interest may also help to end anti-competitive behaviour that harms society not just consumers.

Critical to much of this debate is the question of lobby power and who gets to influence global treaties, global standards and global trade and why is so much in secret? Who gets to decide what land or water resource is used for exports, in whose interest and at what price? Global trade rules are themselves under threat as President Trump works to undermine the WTO.³⁰ His call to unilateralism, protectionism and extremism could create a vacuum in which unilateral and bilateral objectives become prominent and external influencers (such as corporates, or particular regimes) can exert pressure on deals behind closed doors. Our government needs to reject that model but work hard to ensure the WTO can embrace better, people and planet focused, objectives.

Strong UK vested interests are seen as hugely threatening to nature protections, food safety and sustainable farming policy.³¹ Yet there is a potentially positive role that private capital could play in delivering UK public goods in terms of future farm and natural capital management.

The UK demonstrate good practice in managing that potentially conflicting role with open transparent systems of governance, strong regulatory frameworks and setting up robust systems for new market investment in managing ecosystem services and natural capital. A key determinant of how positive or negative the impact corporations have could be the level of transparency, public engagement, democratic oversight and enforcement. The Net Positive Project³² principles may provide a valuable tool for businesses to contribute more to society than they take out.

Next steps

We will be commissioning research about how to take some of these ideas further, to help us clarify our place in the world, what future trade agreements (which protect and maintain high standards) should look like, and how to take a lead in tackling some of the global challenges we face including climate change, biodiversity, food security and human rights.


[1] Chatham house Brexit and Food Paper, unpublished, 2018

[2] For instance, see BRC A Fair Brexit for Consumers Autumn — The tariff roadmap 2017. The weighted average tariff on food imports from the EU is calculated to be 22% if default to WTO tariffs.

[3] Jordan, A., Adelle, C. (2012). Environmental Policy in the EU. Actors, institutions and processes. Routledge

[4] IPPR (2018). Have your cake or eat it. Available at

[5] Green Alliance (2018). Implications of four Brexit scenarios. Available at

[6] Sustain (2018). Cheap food briefing. Available at

[7] Sustain (2018). US food standards over my dead body. Available at

[8] TJM (2017). Trade and Brexit Briefing 2: Democratising UK trade policy. Available at

[9] TJM (2017). Democracy and transparency in the UK trade bill. Available at

[10] Defra (2018). The future for food, farming and the environment. Available at

[11] There has been considerable commentary on the Health and Harmony consultation as well as the Agriculture Bill that emerged from his process, but much of it happened well after the roundtable discussion which took place in early August so we are not including it in this paper.

[12] Defra (2018). Fisheries white paper: sustainable fisheries for future generations. Available at

[13] Business Green (2018). Government sketches out post-Brexit sustainable fisheries vision. Available at

[14] Defra (2018). Environmental Principles and Governance after EU Exit. Available

[15] Institute of Government (2018). Devolution after Brexit Managing the environment, agriculture and fisheries. Available at




[19] IPCC WGII AR5 Chapter 7

[20] It was a pioneer in passing the 2008 Climate change Act to set year on year reductions and an independent committee to provide oversight and has a commitment to reduce CO2 equivalent emissions by 50% on 1990 levels by 2025 and by 80% on 1990 levels by 2050.

[21] Harvey, F (2018). What steps can the UK take to reach net zero emissions by 2050? The Guardian. Available at

[22] Waldron, A. et al. (2017). Reductions in global biodiversity loss predicted from conservation spending. Nature. Volume 551, pages 364–367.

[23] WRI (2017). Global tree cover loss rose 51 percent in 2016. Available at

[24] CBD (2017). The Aichi targets. Available at

[25] Watts, J. (2018). Make half of world more nature-friendly by 2050, urges UN biodiversity chief. The Guardian. Available at

[26] Such as SDG 2 Zero Hunger; SDG1: No Poverty; SDG 4: Quality education; SDG12: Ensure sustainable Consumption and Production Patterns; SDG 13: Climate Action.

[27] As outlined in Agenda 2030: Delivering the Global Goals. Available at delivering-the-global-goals

[28] IISD (2018). Stakeholder Report ‘Measures up’ UK Performance on SDGs. Available at

[29] Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (2018). Available at

[30] Baschuk, B. (2018) The Five Biggest Threats to the WTO. Available at

[31] For instance, the new EU ban on bee harming neonicotinoid insecticides. Yet lobbying by UK and others derailed the Soils Directive — a framework for ensuring vital action to protect soils;

[32] Net Positive Project (2018).

Note: this paper was originally published on the RSA website (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), which hosted the Food, Farming and Countryside Commission between November 2017-April 2020.