Author: Alexandra Hepple (page 1 of 2)

King’s Becomes Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) Accredited

This January, King’s received the result of it’s first SRA final report, achieving a one-star rating at 59%.

King’s became a member of the SRA in 2016 and submitted it’s final ‘Food Made Good’ report in November 2018 before achieving its first result this January.

Background of the SRA

The SRA works with food establishments and universities to guide the route to running a more sustainable operation.

The SRA was set up in 2010 by two restaurateurs, Simon Heppner and Giles Gibbons, who identified that while food service businesses saw sustainability as important, there was no consistency in the way it was defined or addressed. The Esmee Fairbarn Foundation recognised the importance of the SRA and supported it as an initial funder. Since 2010, the SRA has since grown from 50 members, to over 8,000 in 2018.

Why King’s is a member of the SRA

The aim of the Food Made Good report and being a member of the SRA is to:

  1. Identify challenges
  2. Share successes
  3. Find solutions

Being a member of the SRA and undertaking the Food Made Good report helps King’s to identify areas for improvement, whilst also benefit from a platform to learn from other establishments and share successes. The result of the Food Made Good report comes with a ‘To Do List’ of actions to help us make the impact King’s has a more positive one.

Food Made Good Report

The Food Made Good assessment comprises of three main sections: Sourcing, Environment and Society (as mirrored in King’s Sustainable Food Policy).

Within these three sections are ten areas the SRA look at to judge how Sustainable the food enterprise or institution is. These areas include: Supporting Global Farmers, Eat More Veg & Better Meat, Feed People Well, Waste No Food and Valuing Natural Resources.


King’s SRA Report 2018: Results

Below you can see the breakdown of scores King’s achieved in each of these 10 areas for 2018:

Some of sustainable achievements King’s and King’s Food have made across these areas to earn this one-star rating include:

  • All food waste goes to Anaerobic Digestion (AD)
  • 50:50 food saving scheme – all food that needs to be sold that day, gets 50% price reduction, 50 minutes before close.
  • All vegetable trimmings created during prep are used in cooking and coffee grounds recycled (AD or available to staff & students to take)
  • King’s Food incorporate sustainability training into the induction of new staff members
  • King’s Food are seeking to expand their social influence – for example, King’s Food chefs work with Charities such as the Felix Project.
  • Creation of a fully plant-based, vegan-friendly café.
  • All electricity purchased by King’s comes from renewable (wind) energy
  • Established a Fairtrade and Sustainable Food Steering Group (2016/17). This meets every 3 months and any interested member of staff or students can attend. (Email sustainabiliity@kcl.ac.uk if you would like to attend the next).

To read more on Sustainability at King’s, click here to read the first ever Sustainability Report (2016/17). Sustainability Report 2017/18 to come out mid this year.

Next Steps

The value of this report is that it provides tangible ‘To Do’s’ in each of these ten areas to improve the sustainability of King’s involvement in society, environment and sourcing.

Below shows the To Do List for ‘Supporting the Community’ (section: Society). This To Do List directly appeals to the Service Strategy at King’s, which brings focus to King’s’ responsibility and ability to get more involved with our local surroundings and communities, use our resources to strengthen ourselves and others and push the social side of sustainability further.

Another To Do List for ‘Feed People Well’ (section: society) can be seen below. Over the next year, King’s must emphasise effective training of staff and informing the customer to help nudge healthier, more sustainable meal choices.

To Do List for ‘Waste no Food’ (section: environment). This To Do List is not just about changing your practice but communicating sustainable practice more effectively and sharing this with other universities/food establishments.

King’s Sustainability Team and King’s Food are very proud of this result and look forward to responding to the actions in the To Do Lists. We will be ready to re-submit this year for our 2019 report, to gain our second…and possibly third, star.

SDG 3: Healthcare as a Human Right

This week’s guest blog comes fourth in a series of blogs on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) courtesy of Onna Malou van den Broek, second year doctorate student at King’s in the European & International Studies Department. Onna’s doctorate project titled: ‘The Political Payoff of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): CSR as a Determinant for Lobbying Success’,  which looks at the relationship between corporate sustainability and lobbying, holding a special focus on the SDGs.  

This month is all about wellbeing at King’s. Unfortunately, access and quality of healthcare is not always guaranteed. Article 25 of the UN Human Rights Declaration (1948) states that everyone has the right to a standard of living that enables health and wellbeing (1). Due to the lack of accurate and credible data, it is difficult to measure the current state-of-art of healthcare provision.

SDG 3: Good health and wellbeing for everybody

Sickness and death are part of our natural cycle. However, there are many situations in which it can be prevented or cured. The number one cause of death are cardiovascular diseases. Amongst children under five, birth trauma’s, infections and bacteria lead to over 6 million annual deaths (2). Furthermore, there are large regional difference that mirror income disparity; the worst health situation can be found in Sub-Saharan-Africa and South Asia. As an example, maternal deaths are 14 times more likely to happen in developing countries and children are twice more likely to die before they turn five. Furthermore, developing countries still struggle with deadly diarrhoea contaminations caused by poor hygiene’s.

Reproduction, healthcare and medication

The first target is that everyone should have access to a good quality of healthcare and appropriate medications and vaccinations (3). Strengthening local capacities, for example; affordable care, educated doctors and hygienic hospitals, is a stepping-stone to achieve this. Moreover, women and children are central to accomplishing this goal. Some targets are, therefore, directed at issues such as reducing maternal mortality, preventing children’s deaths, eliminating substance abuse during pregnancy and easing access to sexual and reproductive services. Lastly, more general targets focus on issues regarding to common diseases, such as HIV and tuberculosis, traffic deaths and diseases caused by pollution.

Every Women, Every Child

The health of women and children is essential to achieve sustainable development. Healthy women and children create healthy societies and healthy societies build healthy economies, stability and harmony. The project “Every Women Every Child” was set up in 2010 by Ban Ki-Moon and works with various partners to tackle gender related health issues (4). One of their projects, in collaboration with Unilever and USAID, aims to tackle infant deaths due to a lack of hygiene. In order to achieve this, they encourage people to make a habit out of washing their hands with soap on a regular basis (5).

Contraception and family planning

High on the Dutch development agenda, and close to my heart, is sexual and reproductive health-care. The Netherlands helps 1.8 million girls and women to access contraception by strengthening third countries’ healthcare systems and actively lobbying foreign governments. Central to our development policy is family planning. Besides the project “She Decides” of our minister Lilianne Ploumen (which I will tell you more about in SDG 5), we are part of the partnership “Family Planning 2020”. The aim of this partnership is to ensure that every girl and woman is able to freely and independently make the decision whether, when and how many children she wants (7).

No well-being without mental health

There is a growing awareness that mental health is crucial to achieve the SDGs (8). “One in four people experience a mental health episode in their lifetime, but the issue remains largely neglected,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Mental health issues are strongly correlated with structural societal problems and too-often result in the neglect of human dignity and forced treatment. Potential solutions arise not only from within but also from outside the regular healthcare sector. The UK project “Time to Change” challenges the way we think and act around mental health in order to overcome shame and loneliness (9).

What can you do to achieve better health and well-being?

Healthcare is a worldwide problem. Start, therefore, with tackling a few health-related issues within in your own live, direct environment or broader society:

  • Take care of your own body. Eat healthy, exercise, drink in moderation and don’t wait around to visit a doctor. Moreover, make sure that you use contraception during sex, and only have sex without a condom if you are 100 percent sure you both are free of STDs.
  • Take care of your mind. Get enough rest and be aware of the signals of mental problems (10). One of the things I find useful is mindfulness (do you already know the Headspace app?). The online course “de-mystifying mindfulness” elaborates the clinical background of mindfulness in an accessible and academic way (11).
  • Challenge mental health stigma’s. Look at the “Time to Change” resource webpage and inform yourself about mental health issues. Start a conversation with your colleagues, be aware of stereotyping media coverage and call people out on their discriminatory behaviour.

Resources:

Volunteering Opportunity: Social Responsibility Audit Assistant

Committed to the idea of a socially responsible university?

Applications are invited for the role of Social Responsibility Audit Assistant in the ‘European Students Sustainability Auditing’ Project (ESSA).

We are recruiting for a diverse group of six students from King’s College London to participate in the project between February and March. The Social Responsibility Audit Assistant role is open to all current King’s students who have an interest in social responsibility and sustainability.

The successful students will complete two days of training in February 2019 in Edinburgh and will act as host students for an institutional social responsibility audit of King’s which will be undertaken by students from Edinburgh, Porto and Kaunas University’s from the 11th March until 15th March in London.

It is important that we have a diverse range of skills and academic knowledge, we therefore endeavor to select our team from a range of backgrounds and academic degree programmes. We encourage applications from protected characteristics for this role and students from widening participation backgrounds specifically.

Please note that we also have resources in place to ensure that support is available to students who may have any kind of additional support needs and/or face financial barriers to participation in this kind of initiative.

 

How to apply

To apply for this opportunity please email an expression of interest to sustainability@kcl.ac.uk. This should be no longer than 2 sides of A4 and should highlight: your interest in the project, how you fulfill the person specification, what you hope to learn from being involved in the project, and confirm your availability for the dates indicated in time commitment.

The deadline for applications is Monday 14th January 2019 at 9am. For successful applicants there will be an informal group interview/ information session on Friday 18th of January from 12pm-2pm.

If you are unable to make this group interview due to exam or other commitments, please let us know in your application.

If you have any questions about the role please email sustainability@kcl.ac.uk

 

Summary

The ‘European Students Sustainability Auditing’ Project is a European-Union (EU) funded pilot project that aims to learn more about social responsibility and sustainability in universities across Europe.

Social Responsibility Audit Assistants will play a key role in the project by hosting audit students and helping bring together the findings from the audit to report to the Service Committee, a senior University governance group.

Participating students will have the opportunity to gain new skills, knowledge and work experience by undertaking this role. Student auditors will receive training to enable participation in the audits, aiding their own understanding and developing their skills, as well as contributing to the advancement of social responsibility and sustainability in European Higher Education. Participation in this can also be reflected in your Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR).

Further information about the project is available online at www.essaproject.eu.

 

Person specification

The role is open to all students who have an interest in social responsibility and sustainability. The ideal candidate will possess the following skills and knowledge.

  • Good communication skills, both verbal and written, and confidence in face-to-face engagement.
  • Confidence to work independently and in a team and able to assist fellow team members to identify creative solutions to problems.
  • Good analytical and research skills
  • Excellent time management and leadership skills
  • Some knowledge of the workings of universities and of social responsibility and sustainability issues and initiatives.

 

Time commitment

Social Responsibility Audit Assistants will attend two days of training in Edinburgh in February on 7th and 8th of February and participate in an audit of King’s College London on week commencing 11th of March until 15th of March in London. All Audit Assistants will be expected to write a short blog piece, reflecting on their experience in the project. The total time commitment is approximately 8 days.

All approved accommodation, subsistence and travel costs incurred by the student Audit Assistants through the role will be covered by the project, at the relevant official EU rates.

 

Skills and experience gained

Successful students applying for the role will gain the following skills and experience.

  • Experience of working on an international project in a supported professional environment
  • Insight into effective social responsibility and sustainability education
  • Experience of communicating using a variety of different means
  • Knowledge and understanding of the auditing process
  • Ability to make evidence-based judgements
  • Experience in advanced level reporting
  • Ability to support and encourage others to perform
  • Leadership skills
  • Time Management
  • Team development
  • Project management.

 

Project partners

Partners in the project, which is led by the UK’s National Union of Students, include the European Students Union, the University of Porto and its students’ association, Kaunas University of Technology and its students’ association and the University of Edinburgh and its students’ association.

A Welcome from Ali Hepple, Sustainability Projects Assistant

Hello!

I am very excited to have recently joined the King’s Sustainability Team as their new Sustainability Projects Assistant. In this role, I am responsible for helping to raise awareness and embed sustainability throughout the university. This includes Sustainability Champions, which is a brilliant programme run in collaboration with the National Union of Students . It is designed to enable and empower staff to recognise the difference they can make on an individual level, both as a part of the King’s community and throughout wider society. This champions year (18/19) we have 324 staff champions. This is also the first year we will be having student assistants assigned to staff champions teams, bringing staff and student communities together around the common goal of making King’s and the wider society more sustainable and supported. If you’re interested in becoming a champion please get in touch!

My relationship with the university began in 2014, when I came down from the North of England to start my Geography degree at King’s. As a new student in London, I wanted to find programmes I could get involved in which combined community and environmental action. In my first year, this included the University of London’s Reduce the Juice programme. This involvement with the UoL Sustainability Team then led in my second year to developing my own initiative. This initiative was to make meals in UoL halls of residences more sustainable through the introduction of a daily vegan option. This not only replaced a meat based dish, but also responded to the dietary and cultural demographic of the halls’ residents and actively responded to feedback given in the student experience surveys. My work around sustainable food developed in my third year of university, working with the King’s sustainability team to get King’s College London a Sustainable Restaurant Association (SRA) rating. The SRA assessment is known as the ‘Michelin stars of sustainability’ and is based on three pillars of sustainability: Sourcing, Society and Environment. The assessment included a wide variety of criteria, from fair treatment of staff, our use of natural resources, food waste, community outreach and charity work, and food certifications. I am very happy to say that King’s submitted its final SRA assessment in November (2018) and will receive its SRA rating and sustainability action plan with the key areas to improve and guidance on how to do this in January 2019.

For my final year dissertation, I lived and worked on a Community Supported Agriculture farm in rural Sweden over the summer of 2017, this experience forming the body of my research. The farmers’ story was incredible, establishing their farm as the first CSA in Sweden (est. 2001) and made possible through the reliance on volunteer, largely international labour. Their approach to life was inspiring, teaching those who want to learn with open arms and passionately addressing the social and environmental justice issues around food. They struck a balance of community, environmental and social sustainability based around food that I had not seen or experienced before. It made a long lasting impression and it is something I would like to explore more within the UK.  

I am thrilled to continue my relationship with King’s as a member of the Sustainability Team and to use my experience as a student here to inform my decision making and areas of focus. I want to use my role in the Sustainability Team to enable more staff and students to get involved in sustainability at King’s, to help King’s progress as a leading sustainable institution, to strengthen the community of King’s and nurture the sustainable knowledge of staff and students who will go on to shape the future.

I am very much looking forward to continue engaging with staff and students, listening to input, and working to make King’s a leading university for sustainability together.

Eco Christmas Part III – Food

Food!

Food is a huge part of the Christmas festivities, so it’s important to get it right.

Buy Local

Buy local or buy less. Produce bought locally means you will be supporting small suppliers and the local community, while minimising your carbon footprint. Shop at a local farmers’ market, or try growing some of your own vegetables where possible.

Buy Seasonal 

BBC Good Food and Love British Food have come up with helpful tables and advice of what is in season across all meat, vegetables, fruit and fish.

Package free

Buy your fruit and vegetables loose and ditch all the wasteful packaging. Investing in some vegetable bags could help you get around buying packaged fruits and vegetables if you don’t want lots of loose fruit/vegetables in your bag.

Try to avoid serving people with paper or plastic plates and cups if you are entertaining guests and use reusable crockery instead.

Pack all your goods into a re-usable shopping bag or re-use old plastic bags.

Buy Bigger

If you can, buy drinks in bigger bottles, large bottles will generate less waste than several lots of smaller ones.

Recycling your leftovers 

Don’t forget to put the vegetable peelings from your Christmas dinner in your food waste bin if your council provides one – if not, start a compost bin for your garden or donate your food scraps to local allotments/neighbouring gardens.

Read this Hubbub article on facts about freezing your food to mitigate food waste.

Try vegetarian/vegan Christmas recipes

51% of global greenhouse gases come from animal agriculture, therefore going plant-based is a powerful action we can take to reduce our contribution to climate change.

This recipe video by Bosh! which makes a vegan Christmas dinner including a portobello mushroom wellington, maple roasted veggies, balsamic sprouts, wholegrain mustard mash and the perfect roast potatoes, which show that going meat-free doesn’t mean missing out on a tasty dinner.

Avante Garde Vegan has an alternative wellington recipe here. While also providing a bounty of other plant-based recipes, such as Christmas pudding, Yorkshire puddings and a spiced hot chocolate. 

Eco Friendly Christmas Part II – Gifts

Gifts

There are many sustainable gifts you can buy your loved ones – for example:

Are they a foodie?

You could buy your loved one’s sustainable gifts such as great Fairtrade chocolate or coffee.

For example, Seed & Bean, Meaningful Chocolate, Rawr Choc or Grumpy Mule coffee. 

Are they into health and wellbeing?

Sustainable Yoga mat

Exercise helps to nurture wellbeing but lots of yoga mats are made from PVC and other harmful materials.

This brand does amazing biodegradable yoga mats made with vegetable fibres that look pretty too!

Liforme is also a great brand making sustainable yoga mats. However, they are on the more expensive end, but will still make a great investment for an avid Yogi wanting to invest more into their mat and the environment.

Homemade gifts

Why not make them something special and personalised?

For example, a homemade candle. Candles are very simple to make, click here for a simple, step-by-step tutorial on how to make one.

Plant-based waxes such as rapeseed or soy are the better option compared to paraffin waxes which can pose health risks. When paraffin is burnt, carcinogenic compounds (such as Acetaldehyde, Benzene, Formaldehyde) are released into the air. Plus, the use of paraffin encourages the discovery, refinement, distribution and consumption of crude oil. 

Plant wax candles also last longer than paraffin, are less likely to be blended with additives, are biodegradable and also vegan-friendly.

Some good waxes can be found here. Don’t forget you will also need to buy wicks – these can be bought from local haberdasher, which is also more sustainable through the support of local business, reducing delivery miles and reducing reliance on companies such as Amazon – which has questionable staff-treatment.

Making your own candles is great and it allows you to tailor the scent to the favourite smell of the person receiving the gift. You can buy a range of natural oils from Lavender (which is calming),  Rosemary (thought to boost memory and mental function) to frankincense (calming and extra-christmassy!). You can browse a range of natural oils available to purchase here and here 

Do they need to get the hint…?

If you are being driven crazy by someone’s unsustainable habits – why not nudge them in the right direction and give them some sustainable tools they can use in their daily life to make their life less wasteful and more efficient?

Reusable cup

Keepcup online allows your to design your own personalised cup. This sustainable nudge could be made special by designing their cup with their favourite colours.

Eco-lunchbox

The brand, ecolunchware makes lunchboxes from organic wheat straw – reducing plastic while helping your loved-one reduce food waste and save money (so long Tesco meal deals).

Bamboo straws

If your mate is always putting a plastic straw into their Christmas cocktail – why not get them a bamboo or metal straw which they carry with them to bring out when needed? 

Support a charity

Charities such as Amnesty International have a great catalogue of gifts – from an ‘Immigrant Cookbook‘ of which a portion of the profits will go to the Migrants Rights Network, to a bird nesting box and hanging planters. 

Wrapping Your Gift

There are many  brands which make wrapping paper out of recycled paper such as ‘ReWrapped‘. Gift bags such as this one are also great – as they can continuously be reused and save you lots of wrapping up time! 

If you receive a large gift – save the wrapping paper from it and use it for next year when you’re wrapping up future gifts. 

No Gifts

If you want to cut the consumerism of Christmas back – why not use the money you would have spent on the presents for a day out with your loved-one instead?  

Since last Christmas, my family and I decided to do this instead of giving gifts. Well, we give one gift each. But compare this to 10-20 gifts from the previous years this is quite a cutback. The pilot last year actually worked really well. My dad in particular was very hesitant, as he thought giving only one gift would make it seem like he didn’t care. However, this one gift Christmas taught him doing something together as a family actually allows you to share your love, excitement for Christmas and create memories together that gift-giving on Christmas morning doesn’t quite achieve. Opening gifts on Christmas morning is always enjoyable, but the memories and stories of trips and events done in replacement those gifts, to me, are much more powerful as well as long-lasting less wasteful. The no-gifts or one-gift Christmas may not be for everyone, but it’s worth thinking about and discussing with your loved-ones as an idea.

Eco Friendly Christmas Part I – The Tree

1. Artificial Tree or Real Tree?

Artificial 

If you can get a second hand one, fake. You can find these from sites such as Ebay, Gumtree or Freecycle.

However, a 6-foot artificial tree produces 40kg of emissions (if thrown into landfill), compared to a real tree which creates only 3.5kg of emissions (if it’s chipped or incinerated). Therefore, if a second-hand artificial tree is not an option, real trees are the more sustainable option.

Real 

You can make sure your real tree has been grown sustainably by looking for the FSC-certification. The Forestry Comission can tell you where your nearest Christmas trees are available to buy near you. And even better, one that’s also certified by the Soil Association – i.e. one that is organic and pesticide free. There are also over 400 Christmas tree growers across the UK registered with the British Christmas Tree Growers’ Association, where trees are grown according to strict guidelines (for example, being required to use sustainable seeds to protect local wildlife).

The Christmas Forest is small and independent family business who provide sustainable trees from 10 sites across London. Every tree cut after its nine-year growing cycle is replaced, and for every tree sold, another is donated so it can be grown by a family in Africa through Tree Aid.

Once Christmas is over, you can contact the council who can collect your tree in January and shred it into chipping or use it for compost. Check your council pick up dates here.

Tree rental is also a new option which is becoming more available – although, still tricky to come by. It works by you renting the tree from your local garden centre/nursery, and they will pick it up after Christmas to bring back and allow the tree to grow further. Check at your local garden centre to see if this is an option – whilst helping to raise awareness at these centres that this is a demand consumers want to see more of in the future.

Blog Series: SDG 2 – Food is Life

This week’s guest blog comes third in a series of blogs on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) courtesy of Onna Malou van den Broek, second year doctorate student at King’s in the European & International Studies Department. Onna’s doctorate project titled: ‘The Political Payoff of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): CSR as a Determinant for Lobbying Success’,  looks at the relationship between corporate sustainability and lobbying, holding a special focus on the SDGs.  

Are you ready to rescue food? That is the motto of a Dutch restaurant called ‘InStock’. In response to the fact that one third of food production is wasted, they decided to create dishes solely with the unsold products from local supermarkets (1). Although we produce enough food to feed everyone, one in nine people (815 million) still go to bed on an empty stomach. After a period of decline, world hunger is on the rise again because of conflict, droughts and disasters.

The Targets: Ending Hunger and Achieving Food Security

The targets underpinning SDG 2 address the access to and production of food, while supporting rural development and protecting the environment. By 2030, all people must have access to safe and nutritious food, and all forms of malnutrition must be ended. Malnutrition can, amongst other things, lead to growth cessation for young children and unborn babies. Furthermore, the agricultural productivity and income of small-scale food producers must be doubled in a sustainable way. Importantly, food production must be able to maintain ecosystems and the diversity of seeds, plants and animals, whilst being resilient to climate changes. Additionally, investments in agricultural should be strengthened, trade restrictions corrected, and extreme food price volatility limited.

The Situation: From Hunger to Health?

If current trends continue, the targets set in SDG 2 will be largely missed by 2030 (2). Malnutrition sits awkwardly with the large amount of food waste and increased levels of overnutrition and obesity. There are large in-country and intra-country differences, most notably between developed and developing countries. In the later, almost 13 percent of the people are undernourished, with peaks in Asia (33 percent) and Sub-Saharan Africa (23 percent). Alarmingly, poor nutrition is still the case of nearly half of deaths in children under five. To increase food security, governments must top up their spending on small farms, crop diversity and women’s access to agricultural resources.

 

The food security crisis in Yemen

An occurrence of food insecurity which illustrates the link with conflict and climate change, is Yemen (3). Yemen is ravaged by ongoing levels of conflict between the Yemen Government, backed-up by Saudi-Arabia, and Al Houthi opposition forces. Although the food security crisis in Yemen has been building up since 2004, recently the country has started to receive media attention as the situation was officially classified as a famine. Depreciation of the Yemeni riyal (YER) has resulted in continuously increasing prices of food and fuel, mainly affecting vulnerable parts of the population. The situation has been worsened due to the Tropical Cyclone Luban and the second outbreak of cholera. Of the 29.3 million inhabitants, approximately 17.8 million are food-insecure with 8.4 million severe cases. Without international action, the prognosis is that the crisis will deepen even further…

Universities Creating Partnerships for Zero Hunger

A Conference at the University of Wageningen (4) posed the question: How can we create partnerships that can rid the world of hunger and malnutrition? Insights included that there is a need for a good institutional environment allowing farmers to practice sustainable agriculture. What is more, malnutrition is not only an issue in developing countries. Even though healthy food might be available, it can be affordable to certain communities or there is a lack of knowledge on how to differentiate between unhealthy and healthy options.  Interestingly, Lawrence Haddad, director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, emphasized on making hunger uncomfortable for governments: “hunger and malnutrition are the result of choices about how we use our scarce resources. You can choose to use those resources differently”.

What can you do?

As a consumer, you have great power to increase food security. Use that power! A great initiative that empowers you to contribute to SDG 2, is the Chefs’ Manifesto Action Plan (5). Although targeted at restaurants, their lessons are relevant for everybody:

  • Know your food. Find information, for example on: (a) the ingredients in your products i.e. are these grown with respect for earth and oceans? Are the products seasonal? (b) the supply chain i.e. how many intermediates are there? How fair are workers’ wages? and (c) animal-welfare of diary, meat and fish products i.e. do producers ensure good living conditions?
  • Buy responsible. With the relevant knowledge, use your purchasing power to ensure sustainable production. Try to buy products from local producers through farmers markets, buy less meat and fish, eat seasonal fruit and vegetables and inform about the products at your favourite restaurant or lunch cafe.
  • Nourish yourself, friends and family. Good nutrition starts with yourself! Ensure your meals are nutritious and share this habit with your environment. And whilst you’re at it, plan your meals so there is no need to waste.

References:

  1. Do you want to know more about this concept? Please visit their website here.
  2. If you want to read more about progress towards SDG 2, you can visit the UN website here or the UNSTAT website here.
  3. To get an overview of the humanitarian and food crisis in Yemen, I used the fact sheet of USAID, which you can read here.
  4. Luckily for you, the whole conference is captured by video and available here.
  5. You can read more on the chef’s manifesto here.

Blog Series: SDG 1 – The Battle Against Poverty

This week’s guest blog comes second in a series of blogs on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) courtesy of Onna Malou van den Broek, second year doctorate student at King’s in the European & International Studies Department. Onna’s doctorate project titled: ‘The Political Payoff of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR): CSR as a Determinant for Lobbying Success’,  looks at the relationship between corporate sustainability and lobbying, holding a special focus on the SDGs.  

Poverty in all its forms everywhere is, according to the United Nations (UN), stating that it is one of the biggest challenges of our generation. The good news is that the amount of people living in extreme poverty has relatively decreased from 28 percent in 1999 to 11 percent in 2013. The bad news, however, is that over 896 million people are still living with less than $1.90 per day, mainly within South-Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa (1). Poverty goes beyond the lack of financial resources; it reflects a lack of opportunities, which are often linked to education, healthcare, discrimination and hunger.

 

“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice”

Nelson Mandela

 

 

The Targets: Eradicating Poverty and Creating Social Security

The seven SDG targets that aim to diminish poverty by 2030 include both a financial and a social dimension. A distinction is made between extreme poverty measured as people living on less than $1.25 a day and general poverty measured according to national definitions. Whereas extreme poverty must be overcome completely, general poverty must be halved. On a national level, the targets are three-fold: strengthening the resilience of the poor, particularly in cases of natural disasters; implementing social policies that protect citizen against poverty and; creating equal rights and access to economic resources and services. On an international level, the targets press states to actively mobilize resources that can combat poverty and to create policies that target and benefit the poorest.

Progress? Measuring Regional Inequality

Without measurements there is no knowledge of progress. In the previous blog, I explained that each goal is broken down in targets which are measured by indicators. The UN created a database which tracks down how each country is currently doing on each indicator. Have a look around yourself as this database is accessible for everyone (2). Looking at the data, the general trend seems to be that regional inequality is on the rise. Let’s zoom in on social security, which is crucial to battle poverty. A total of 45 percent of the world’s population has access to at least one type of social insurance. A simple comparison illustrates the imbalance: in Western Europe this percentages is 99, whereas in West Africa it is merely 9 percent.

 

Oxfam and the UN: Business against poverty

There are countless projects that intend to contribute towards SDG 1, but as I specialise in business I would like to focus on the partnership between Oxfam and the UN (3). This partnership aims to make companies aware of their positive and negative impact on local poverty. To accomplish this, they created the so-called ‘poverty footprint’. Through this online tool, companies can begin to understand how they affect poverty and adjust their business operations accordingly. A company that completed the poverty footprint is Unilever. They concluded that by offering more part-time instead of full-time jobs at their manufacture site in Kecap Bango, more people would be helped out of poverty in this Indonesian region. Thus, by measuring their influence on poverty, companies are urged to find innovative solutions.

The situation in Europe

Eurostat, the statistics centre of the European Union (EU), shows that in 2016 over 118 million people were at risk of poverty or social inclusion (see the Figure below). There is a wide disparity within the EU. To illustrate, in Bulgaria almost 42 percent of the population is at risk of poverty or social exclusion. In comparison, in Sweden this percentage is only 14. Furthermore, 36 percent of Greek people live below the national poverty line and 19 percent of Romanian people that are employed still live in poverty. In the UK, child poverty is taking a worrisome number; about 4 million children are classified as poor.

 

 

 

The Fund of Urgent Needs in the Netherlands.

The Netherlands, where I am originally from, does not know extreme poverty. Nonetheless, 10 percent of Dutch citizens live under the national poverty line of 33 euro per day. An organization within the Netherlands that aims to tackle local poverty is the Fund of Urgent Needs (SUN). My mother is the location manager in my home-town Leiden, where SUN offers financial aid to people that are in danger of falling between two stools. She explains that: “our foundation gives to the inhabitant of Leiden, who are in an urgent financial situation and do not apply for governmental help”.

What can you do in the fight against poverty?

The traditional way of donating money is, for the low-budget students, not always a possibility – nor might it be the most effective route. Luckily, there are other ways: you can volunteer at existing programmes, such as Child Poverty Action Group, Oxfam, foodbanks or ONE, or develop your own project at King’s. As poverty is rooted in various related problems, you can think about projects improving general live conditions as well. For example, become a reading helper for children at BeanStalk – with only a few hours a week you can ensure a child can read, grow and thrive!

 

References:

  1. More statistics, data and information on this goal can be found here.
  2. If you want to play a bit around with the target data on country level, you can either go to UNSTAT or the SDG index.
  3. Read more on the poverty footprint at Oxfam’s or the UN’s respectively websites.
  4. Unfortunately, in Dutch, but if you want to learn more about the situation in the Netherlands click here and for the foundation of urgent needs here.

Student Halls Re-Use Scheme

This year, to support King’s in our sustainability strategy and our goal to recycle 70% of our non-hazardous waste by 2019-20, King’s Residences have once again partnered with Better Re-use  to help manage waste generated by students leaving halls of residence for the summer. Better Re-use successfully saved anything from used furniture to bedding and electrical items from going to landfill, allowing these things to live out second lives through partnerships with Oxfam, Shelter and other charitable organisations across London.

How It Worked

Over 13 collections, and with the great assistance and enthusiasm of all Residence Managers, staff, cleaners, volunteers and students involved, Better Re-use collected waste from  our four directly managed halls of residence: Stamford Street, Great Dover Street, Wolfson House and Champion Hill. They then sorted, weighed and arranged the distribution of the materials collected.

Great Results

The partnership was a huge success. This was down to two main factors. First, better communication with students on how to deal with their waste on departure directly led to the substantial quantities gathered. Secondly, our partnership with Better Re-use allowed the re-distribution of duvets, pillows and carbon dense materials that were previously difficult to divert from landfill.

Particular progress was made at Great Dover Street, where more awareness was created via communications from the King’s Residences team. The hall contributed an additional 34% over 2017. Better Re-use estimates that 362 students engaged with the scheme, approx. 23% of total leavers. On average, 2.06kg of waste was received from each student (a 32% increase) and collections overall were up 10%.

 

The Figures

Across the four residences, King’s managed to divert 3,261 kg from landfill – a 10% increase from 2017, diverting 37,611kg CO2e – a 20% increase on the year. This represents a 99% re-use rate, with nothing going to landfill.

 

 

Where Did It All Go?

The re-usable goods collected from our students went to support a variety of charities, including:

Fara (http://www.faracharity.org/)

A charity which supports orphans and vulnerable or neglected children in Romania, providing education, employment training, healing of past trauma and most of all a loving family.

Shelter London (https://england.shelter.org.uk/)

Which works with people suffering bad housing or homelessness.

Bright Sparks Islington (http://directory.islington.gov.uk/kb5/islington/directory/service.page?id=6gvCBq_6XQQ)

Which diverted reusable furniture, small electrical items and bric-a-brac, providing jobs and volunteering opportunities for the socially excluded, or people looking to get back into work.

St Mungo’s East London (https://www.mungos.org/)

Works directly with people who are sleeping rough or in hostels and helping them to rebuild their lives and fulfill their ambitions.

Oxfam (https://www.oxfam.org.uk/)

Oxfam was able to put most of the clothing items up for resale in their shops, while other dirty or damaged clothing items went to their central sorting warehouse to be sent either to shops or to Oxfam projects abroad.

Oxfam said:

The effort that the King’s Residence teams have put into making this a success is amazing, and we look forward to seeing the figures for next year’s big summer clear out!

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