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Our goal is to radically transform our food environments in Europe to provide healthy, just and sustainable diets with decreased, socially fair and sustainably produced animal-sourced foods.
To achieve that, we will support the expansion of a movement across Europe advocating for 'less and better' meat and through that adding significant long-term momentum for a future fit food system that is compatible with climate, health, biodiversity, animal welfare, and just transitions goals.
We will focus our initial work on jointly prioritised levers that shape food environments. Some of these levers represent places/actors within the food system or food environments where change can be made. We have already identified some but the task of identifying relevant and effective levers is a work in progress.
Europe has some of the highest production and consumption levels of animal protein. Unhealthy diets (including too much meat and dairy, too many foods that are high in fat, salt, and sugar and not enough fruit and vegetables) are the leading risk factor underpinning the high death rates from non-communicable diseases in Europe. In addition, European food supply chains are linked to significant ecological impacts across the world, from the Amazon to forests in Southeast Asia.
Both the EU and the UK have committed to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 and for the first time, included food system actions around sustainable production and consumption within these climate ambitions. It won’t be possible to achieve net-zero emissions in these jurisdictions without significant action on food, and significant action on food and health won’t be possible without a considerable shift to a diet of less and better animal protein.
Funders and civil society involved are participating in similar initiatives in the US, South America and China and will look for synergies and differences. Success on less and better in Europe has the potential to inspire other countries to take similar approaches and cascade to effect global change for the food system, as evidenced on for example coal phase outs. This work will consider Europe’s role in the world (e.g. investments, global multinationals and impact on farm workers globally). If this initiative in Europe is successful, this might well be further scaled up to involve more countries, accepting that the less and better might not be the most suitable food systems intervention in places lacking access to sufficient protein e.g. much of Africa.
Food environments are the physical, economic, socio-cultural and policy conditions that affect the availability, accessibility, affordability and attractiveness of food and drink (What are ‘food environments’? – EPHA, 2019). Or “physical, economic, political and socio-cultural context in which consumers engage with the food system to make their decisions about acquiring, preparing and consuming food”. In Europe, it is far too easy to consume unsustainably extractive animal-sourced foods on a scale that overshoots our planetary and social boundaries, and far too difficult to opt for alternatives that support human and animal health and welfare, planetary health, and social equity and justice.
This is because today’s food environments are not fit to maximise human, planetary and animal well-being. They are shaped by government regulations, unsustainable subsidy systems, distortionary marketing practices and the actions of powerful businesses along food supply chains. They are unsustainable, unjust and unhealthy.
The most effective and equitable way to change food behaviours is to change the structural factors that drive food choice.
Extractive animal-sourced foods is a term we are using to refer to the type of industrial, intensively produced ASF that presents a massive challenge to planetary, human and animal wellbeing. Extractive animal-sourced foods are produced in conditions that damage ecosystems, workers, animals, and local communities.At this stage of the initiative, we are choosing not to precisely delimit what extractive ASF means, but we aspire to better define this term in partnership with a range of partners, including farmers and food workers.
In the beginning we were using less and better meat as a strategic framing but this remains a work in progressm while we are still reflecting. Less translates as a reduction in meat consumption while better means an improvement of the quality of meat, of the overall diet and of the social, ecological and animal welfare conditions under which animal-sourced foods are produced. This means, Less and Better is neither the final slogan nor necessarily the most comprehensive wording we will be utilising to address the current issues within the food system.
Our approach is focused on system change. This means we are looking at all the fundamental structures that keep the current food system as it is in place whilst identifying all its components and power relationships amongst them. System change also means identifying the wide range of actors and possible interventions within policy, business, investment, retail, consumers, citizens and much more.
To address that, we want to strengthen the movement through a co-creation process by bringing together CSOs and funders that are working on various food system issues e.g. health, animal welfare, agriculture and just transitions – to agree on a purpose and a strategic framework around less and better, identify synergies and enhance collaboration towards achieving the goal. The co-creation approach also aims at creating the space for facilitating spaces where we can understand each other’s perspectives and identify common ground between different actors. Through the support of strategic philanthropy, this movement will rapidly grow and deliver sustained impact over the next decade.
A co-creation approach addresses the often unequal power dynamics between funders and civil society organisations and provides a space for more honest, values-based conversations and stronger solutions that take into account privilege and power. It does also allow funders and CSO to build synergies and bring their mutual expertise in one place, thus generating projects with higher ambitions.
The co-creation process is being developed in stages (onion-style) and involves a range of funders and organisations from different sectors (health, food, climate change, biodiversity, animal welfare, labour rights and just transitions), countries and perspective on change. We want to ensure the voices who have an interest participate and get the most of everyone’s previous experience or current initiatives.
Our co-creation approach has produced its first results and a strategic framework has already been developed bringing together the outcomes from participatory processes such as a forum and six workshops. This co-creation process will continue to keep feeding and updating the strategic framework, which includes our vision, shared goals, prioritised levers and ways of working.
Levers are key entry points to change a system. They are areas of focus that have the potential to transform the whole food system if we intervene strategically. We believe that none of these levers will work alone but that as a set of different intervention points we can create systemic changes.
Some of these levers represent places/actors within food environments where change can be made such as retail or subnational actors. Some others represent opportunities to change the power dynamic broadly within the food system or food environments. Focussing on these opportunities will help strengthen the foundation and ambition across the movement. These are narratives, strategic litigation and embedding just transitions.
For each lever we are using co-creation to identify strategic interventions that CSO networks or coalitions of the willing within the movement want to develop into campaigns. However, these levers don’t represent all that the movement intends to do. They are a starting point.
Since we started in 2020, we have defined a set of common ingredients: our North star, common levers of change, examples of potential interventions, etc. We have organised a forum and six workshops with over 125 funders and civil society representatives from more than 16 countries participating. These have helped us to devise a first strategic framework defining the change we want to achieve, our vision, how co-creation should take place, the stages of co-creation, the prioritised levers and how we want to build movement ecosystem (governance). In 2022 and beyond we will bring the strategy alive by injecting capital into civil society through the pooled fund and developing a shared identity (the honey) that binds us all together.
You are and no one is. In the first phase, a small scoping group helped us steer the co-creation process and involve a wider range of CSO and funders. This had both funders and key civil society actors heavily involved. Since late 2021, a Funder Steering Committee headed by Chris Gee from the Oak Foundation was put in place, coordinating the funders (both pooled and aligned). In early 2022 a Chief Weaver and Programme Officer were recruited to help bring the strategy to live, focusing more on serving civil society. A fund manager for the pooled fund also started mid-2022. As is the case with any starting initiative, the structure and composition may change as HFHP evolves.
This is a big task for 2022 to make sure the governance structure supports a smooth and agile movement of movements. At the moment on the funder side, there is a Funder Steering Committee made up of foundations who are directly funding the initiative or whose funding is closely aligned.
A small Coordination Team is in place made up of a Chief Weaver and Programme Officer hosted by EPHA. They will be working with and serving the CSO constituency including working with a CSO scoping group made up of EPHA, Eating Better, Wir Haben Es Satt and CAN-France. We are also working on developing a governance structure and ways of working, ensuring that the CSOs will be drawn from within the HFHP core community and will reflect its geographic, sectoral representation and priorities.
The HFHP initiative aims to nurture and support a movement that is co-created and owned by diverse organisations and sectors, including you. If you have participated in the forum, workshops or survey, you are already part of the movement and we will invite you to sign up to one of the lever communities of practice on The Hive.
If you have not participated before, but want to take part in the conversations or need more information, please write to us at email@example.com or sign up via the website. In this way, we will keep you updated on how the initiative evolves and how you can participate more actively.
We have a stream of work to develop and share our learnings. We also want to focus on learning by doing. This means that all the larger grants the pooled fund makes in 2022 will include a component of learning and testing of assumptions, analysis and tactics. This is in addition to learning on the impact of the pooled fund and movement building.
We are also working together with a wide range of CSOs with plenty of experience in common areas around food, sustainability and climate change and that will help the movement to overcome complex cultural, economic, and political systems that create the context within which the food system operates.
Additionally, we want to make sure our work is supported by evidence. In that sense, please refer to the Learn & Explore page where we publish the HFHP-commissioned research that serves the movement.
For the initial phase, funders committed are the Oak Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, the Climate and Land Use Alliance, Climateworks Foundation, the Heinrich Boell Foundation and Carassso Foundation. The Funders Steering Committee is currently generating interest among funders for the follow-up phase.
Existing funders have committed around Euro 2.8m to fund the movement building, co-creation of strategy and support of campaigns. The Funders Steering Committee has also the purpose to find additional funding for future activities.
The grants made in 2022 will contain a learning component so that both movement and funders will be able to analyse what has worked and what the movement needs in the future.
Although mass behaviour change won’t be the core element of our approach, we expect behaviour change to be the medium to long-term outcome of the interventions that our movement will drive. In other words, by influencing certain actors (e.g. meat producers, retailers) and the way they interact with consumers, we might be indirectly influencing consumers’ behaviours. This means that our focus is centered around the main players, rather than individuals.
We are committed to ensuring that we draw a boundary around our movement in a way that HFHP complements and strengthens the work of the wider ecosystem of funding and action.
Many of these programmes come from a similar analytical position of the need to reduce emissions, improve health, restore nature and create just transitions. We will work closely to ensure that we build on existing research and are aligned and that the interventions we focus on are complementary. We will also maintain close links with others including funders and CSOs working on sustainable food systems to avoid duplication.
We recognise the need to influence government, business and finance. CSOs are an important route to influencing the actions of governments, businesses and finances through representing the interests of citizens, consumers and the ultimate beneficiaries of finance. However, at present, there is a lack of alignment among civil society organisations working across the related food system issues such as human health, animal welfare, workers welfare and the environment, and this is resulting in a lack of momentum towards possible solutions. This lack of cohesion risks confusion around the best courses of action amongst those with the power to make change happen quickly (i.e. should we not just move from beef to chicken). We also believe there is a need to deconstruct industry narratives and practices that have resulted in excessive animal protein marketing and consumption and reconstruct the world we might want to see.