Grants / Projects we are funding

Sustain – the alliance for better food and farming – Food systems for 1.5 degrees

Grant details


Awarded on:01/07/2020

Duration:36 months


Area of interest

Systems change

Themes covered


It is now widely acknowledged that our food system is not operating well, and the recent outbreak of a pandemic highlighted some of the weaknesses. But this cannot be altered until we understand the financial drivers behind the system and attempt to change the way they reward the current system.

What is the issue?

The project is about a fundamental reshaping of the financial system that drives the UK food system. Despite some progress, private finance (the market rewards and how it operates) and public money (subsidies and other support) are still largely giving the wrong signals to farmers and land managers – leaving them badly rewarded and the costs for social, environmental and public health paid elsewhere including social, climate, biodiversity and public health costs.

Sustain has declared a climate and nature emergency, and is committed to do all it can to champion solutions as part of a just transition. This will necessitate campaign work on both the supply and demand side of the farm system equation; hence there are two complementary strands to the outcomes they seek to achieve.

What will the project try to achieve?

Sustain will work to shift understanding and gain policy commitments (at national and local level where opportunities arise) to support the system-change needed to achieve the goals of Food Systems for 1.5 degrees. The overarching work will build an evidence base, engagement with stakeholders and supporters and new campaign tools to deliver a major change to financial and regulatory policy which underpins food and farming in the UK. The focus will be on both public and private finance and supply and demand side changes. Where they focus on local delivery it will be to show how national, regional and local policy can and should be changed. The project will be integrating the needs of the climate emergency with the needs of the land using community to respond through having the right financial drivers. The 3 years’ work (removing policy barriers, providing incentives and skills training) should help pave the way for an alternative food trading system (including public procurement) to go from tiny market share and niche supply (often serving elite markets) to a far larger market share and seriously challenging the dominance of the multiples.

Who might be interested in this project?

All those concerned with

  • the agri-food industry and environment policy including policy makers, civil service, research institutions, levy boards and individual stakeholders
  • nature and land-based policy solutions to the climate and nature crises.
  • Finance, treasury policy and new economic framing of complex food supply chain issues
  • Competition and planning and infrastructure policy
  • The alternative food system players involved directly or indirectly in driving system change at a local or national level – farm to fork.
  • Just transition and green new deal