Earth Day 2023  

The theme for this year’s Earth Day remains the same as 2022, Invest in Our Planet, an unusual decision from the organisers of the largest global environmental movement. But it feels like we’re continuing to divest in our planet. Even though there have been small steps forward since last April – China reported its first year of declining emissions, renewable energy is finally becoming mainstream, and a Loss and Damage fund was agreed at COP27 – it’s not the systemic change which is needed to halt the climate crisis.  

Across Europe, our attention has been shifted to the war in Ukraine, rising inflation at levels not seen for a generation and growing inequity. Here in the UK, the numbers of people suffering from food poverty are accelerating: the FoodFoundation recently reported that one in five UK households are skipping meals or not eating for a whole day – not what is expected from a G7 country.  

Separating the climate crisis from food poverty and rising inflation is not useful. These issues are inextricably connected. According to the UN, the current way we produce, process and package food causes over a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. In the 20th century, industrial farming was thought to be the golden goose that would feed the world and many people still see mega-farms and a factory approach to agriculture as the solution. But we have created a monster which is destroying the very resources it needs to survive.  

A lot of the big global food producers are talking about sustainability, making pledges and planting trees, especially on and around Earth Day. Tinkering around the edges is no longer enough. We need wholesale systemic change, a fresh approach and a change in attitude. The science and technology to make the change are there. Big business needs to invest in it and governments need to back it.    

We shouldn’t lose hope, there are people and organisations who are working on solutions: Ivy Farm, JonesFoodCompay, Kipster Farm, and New Harvest are just a few of the exciting disruptors in the food sector.   

There are also organisations like Compassion in World Farming who have been campaigning for decades to bring about change in the way we produce food. As part of our mission to work with clients who are making a positive difference, we’ve been supporting them in the run up to their Extinction or Regeneration Conference. In May, they’ll be bringing together some of the leading experts in food and agriculture from across the world to explore different solutions and interventions to help the switch to a more regenerative way of producing food.  

At Barley, as a business established on the foundation of communication that matters and with a commitment to working with organisations that bring about a positive impact on society and the environment, we’re proud to have played a small part in bringing people together to find new answers to help secure the future of our global food system.