Sustainability and Climate Change:
Reviewing the Department for Education’s
draft strategy

DFE Sustainability & Climate Change

In the Department for Education’s (DfE) draft strategy foreword, the Secretary of State for Education, The Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP, purports that “Education is critical to fighting climate change. And “success depends on collaborative working.” He goes on to talk of the opportunities afforded by a “whole-system approach.”

As food procurement experts specialising in the education sector, this caught our interest, particularly with sustainable supply interwoven through our procurement solution. From the position of specialists in managing the food supply chain, we’ve reviewed the DfE’s draft strategy.

Some guiding principles have been laid out, early on in the draft strategy:

  1. Partnerships and collaboration are key – across sectors and through the food supply chain.
  2. Evidence and insight are important – data-led decision making, requiring visibility of data. We couldn’t agree more. In the words of our Managing Director, he hopes that “over the next few years, when buying food, we will find sustainability or environmental impact data is as readily available as nutrition or allergen data is today. Enhanced understanding and availability of information are vital steps towards more sustainable food supply.”
  3. Greater leadership and support for this are required for the education sector.

 

Below, we have summarised the key points that are then presented, with a specific focus on the report’s “Action Area 4: Operations and Supply Chain.”

  • Embedding sustainability in decision making, purchasing and operations, with the intended outcome of greener supply chains / operational activity
  • An emphasis on young people understanding how to reduce waste and make sustainable choices (we covered this in a blog called Losing Less and Eating Smarter’ – take a look, here.
  • A greater focus on – and measurement of – waste and waste prevention, incorporating work with key partners such as Defra and WRAP
  • Also working closely with Defra regarding the recommendations made in the National Food Strategy (NFS) in 2021 and ahead of the report Defra will be publishing in 2022 to lay out how the NFS could and should be implemented
  • Increased support for schools when it comes to increasing the take up of sustainable school meals and sharing of best practice
  • A review of school food standards to encourage more plant based and meat free options in their foodservice provision
  • The provision of more sustainable products into schools. Making the Period Products scheme greener still.

 

In addition to “Action Area 4: Operations and Supply Chain” , the draft strategy looks at 4 other areas:

  • Climate Education
  • Green Skills and Careers
  • The Education Estate
  • Data

 

…There is extensive cross over and mutuality between the 5 areas posed by the draft strategy. These interdependencies will be explored in greater depth when we review the finalised version of the DfE’s strategy, in April 2022.

In summary, the draft strategy concludes with 4 “strategic aims:

  • Excellence in education and skills for a changing world
  • Net zero
  • Resilient to climate change
  • A better environment for future generations.”

 

As independent food procurement experts, with the education sector being one of our core areas of specialism, we concur that there is a key role to be played by education, food supply chains and, specifically, by foodservice in education… starting not from when the report is released, but from today.

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