Category: Procurement

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.

Can fashion be sustainable?

Walking around London, we see countless advertisements for fashion retailers every single day. Especially today, on Black Friday, retailers are doing everything they can to convince us to spend more. But our love for fashion may be harming the environment: reports show that fashion is the 2nd most polluting industry in the world.

To find out more, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC), which is a parliamentary select committee made up of MPs from across the political spectrum, launched an inquiry into the Sustainability of the Fashion Industry. Last week, they held a public evidence hearing at the Victoria and Albert Museum, questioning fashion designers, upcyclers and innovators about how to fix the fashion industry’s environmental impact. We were in the audience for the hearing, and are bringing you our highlights of the morning’s discussions.

Source: Hubbub Foundation

The first thing that became evident was that there is no shortage of challenges to embedding sustainability into fashion. From ‘fast fashion’ being too fast to consider sustainable options to convincing manufacturers to return clothing scraps, fashion brands can face numerous obstacles. The good news is that there are plenty of ideas on how to change this. One interesting challenge is the scraps left over from pattern cutting. Designer Phoebe English told the audience to imagine a t-shirt, and then imagine the piece of fabric it was cut from. While the fabric offcuts used to be a resource and sold, they are now frequently discarded. But innovations are happening. In New York, non-profit organisation FabScrap collects this fabric waste and sells it to makers of all kinds (fashion students, sewists, quilters) at affordable prices. Some brands are also looking into zero-waste pattern cutting, where designs are laid out on the fabric in a way that eliminates cut-offs.

The hearing also showed that it’s not just brands who need to change, but also us consumers. The expert panel explained that even though clothes are becoming cheaper, we are spending more, as fast fashion leads us to buy larger quantities of increasingly disposable clothes. But while buying a new outfit may make us happy, the happiness from a new purchase typically wears off after three days. And if an item breaks, we often throw it away – adding to the tonnes of clothes sent to landfill in the UK every year. While some brands now offer free or paid repair services, this isn’t a widespread practice and the panel of experts felt that this was an area legislation could help push the industry in the right direction. One initiative could be making repairs VAT-free. Another idea was for the government to introduce better labelling for our clothes. In supermarkets, food is labelled with health warnings and information on its origin – but our clothes rarely contain warnings about the harmful chemicals they may have been treated with, or the environmental damage they caused.

Finally, sustainability in the fashion industry is not only about environmental sustainability. Increasingly, consumers want to know more about the social sustainability of their clothes. While the fashion industry provides employment for millions of women around the globe, the jobs are not up to scratch: pay is often poor, while working conditions are bad. Journalist Lucy Siege and founder of Eco-Age Livia Firth both pointed out that cheap clothes are only possible due to exploitation. In addition, Dr Offord MP explained that in a survey of 51 leading UK brands, 71% could not be sure that modern slavery had not occurred at some point in the supply chain. While the Modern Slavery Act was praised by the panel, many felt it does not go far enough in assigning legal responsibility. Organisations like IndustriALL Union are working to ensure garment workers everywhere in the world have the opportunity to join a union and fight for better working conditions.

With all these challenges, what can we as consumers do to make our fashion choices more sustainable?

Based on the information the panelists gave, we have put together our top tips for a more sustainable wardrobe:

  1. Buy less, but better
  • Say no to fast fashion! Try to only buy what you really love and know will wear, and try to buy better quality clothes that you can love for longer. While difficult to do on a student budget, vintage shops, charity shops and resale platforms like Ebay or Depop may help you find some bargains!
  1. Get yourself a new outfit for free
  • If you have some clothes you no longer want, why not try going to a clothes swap? You can usually bring clothes you no longer like, and swap them for other pre-loved items a t a clothes swap near you. If you live in King’s Residences, keep an eye out for any swaps your fellow students or the Residences Team are organising.
  1. It’s not just Reduce, Reuse, Recycle – you can also Rent
  • There are lots of places where you can now rent an outfit for a special occasion rather than buying it new.
  1. Repair and repurpose your clothes
  • If you can, try to repair your clothes instead of throwing them away, or alter them to give them a new look. There are more and more repair cafés popping up around the country, and some brands even offer repairs on their products.
  1. Look behind claims on labels
  • During the hearing, the panel pointed out that while terms like ‘organic cotton’ are protected, claims of ‘sustainable cotton’ may not be. As consumers, we can try to find out what is behind these claims to make sure brands are sticking to what they promise.

If you are interested in finding out more about the inquiry, all the latest information is available on the Environmental Audit Committee webpages. The next public hearing is taking place on the 27th November, and will include witnesses from various fashion retailers.  You can also watch the full footage of this public evidence hearing here.

 

 

 

 

Win Prizes with Warp It

So far King’s has saved over £140,978 since we launched Warp It in 2016 and we’re giving you prizes to help to make that number even bigger!

How can you win?

We’re giving you prizes to share as many items as possible on Warp It. The user who uploads the most items by the 12 July 2018 will win a goodie bag of vegan treats!

What exactly is Warp It?

Warp It is a Freecycle style online platform that allows staff members from inside King’s to share unwanted furniture, office and lab equipment they no longer need. Every time an item is added to Warp It it is then available for staff members across King’s to claim, meaning that unwanted, good quality items are no longer being thrown away.

Did you know…?

Lab equipment can be put on to Warp It as well! Everything from electronic equipment to glassware can be shared and claimed on the platform.

Why is it important?

Warp It not only helps us to reduce the amount of waste that we produce, but it also saves users a large amount of time and money that they would otherwise have spent on purchasing new items. It helps to promote the ethos of reuse, reduce, recycle at King’s and encourages staff members to think about what they purchase, before they purchase it.

So far at King’s we have:

  • Saved over £140,978
  • Saved over 58,259kg of CO2, which would normally arise from waste disposal and buying new items
  • Avoided over 20,292kg of waste
  • Kept the equivalent of 25 cars off the road and saved 79 trees

Sign up to Warp It and start winning prizes today!

King’s is now a Fairtrade University

The Fairtrade Foundation has awarded King’s College London with Fairtrade University status. A Fairtrade University is one that has made a commitment to supporting and using Fairtrade.Fairtrade University FINAL CMYK.edit

The Fairtrade mark is widely recognised, and means that a product meets the social, economic and environmental standards set by the Fairtrade Foundation.  For farmers and workers, this includes the protection of workers’ rights and the environment; for companies it includes paying the Fairtrade Minimum Price and an additional Fairtrade Premium to invest in projects of the community’s choice.

Over the last year, King’s and KCLSU have worked together to make King’s a Fairtrade University. A joint Fairtrade policy has been signed, committing the university and students’ union to supporting Fairtrade by providing Fairtrade products on campus and engaging students and staff in Fairtrade campaigns. Both King’s and KCLSU already sell a range of Fairtrade products on campus, including tea and coffee, chocolate, fruit and graduation t-shirts and hoodies. As well as making Fairtrade products widely and easily available to the university community, promoting the positive impact buying Fairtrade can have on lives across the world is a key part of being a Fairtrade University. During Fairtrade Fortnight in early March, Fairtrade was promoted through posters and special offers from King’s Food. Some Sustainability Champions teams got involved by organising their own initiatives, such as Fairtrade wine & chocolate tastings for their teams.

To ensure the improvement of not only Fairtrade, but the sustainability of all food at King’s, a Fairtrade and Sustainable Food steering group meets regularly to discuss these topics. The group is open to all, and if you are interested in finding out more please contact us at sustainability@kcl.ac.uk.

The Fairtrade University award ties in with wider efforts to make food at King’s more sustainable. Earlier this year, King’s Food joined the Sustainable Restaurant Association and signed up to their Food Made Good programme, committing to sustainable sourcing and practices, as well as ethical standards.

Don’t buy it – Warp It!

Last week, King’s re-launched the reuse platform Warp It. Originally opened to staff in 2016, Warp It works like a university-wide Freecycle. Staff can add unwanted furniture, research equipment and more to the online portal. Users can then claim these items for free. This means unwanted, good quality furniture is no longer thrown away. Instead, it is given a new life somewhere else in the university, reducing waste and saving money.

So far at King’s we have:

  • Saved over 17,000kg of CO₂, which would normally arise from waste disposal and buying new items
  • Avoided over 7 tonnes of waste
  • Kept the equivalent of seven cars off the road, and saved 24 trees
  • Saved over £40,000

KCL E&F WARP IT - TWITTER 1 - 1024x512At the moment, Warp It is only open to staff. If you are interested in signing up and start reusing furniture, please visit the internal Warp It pages.

A Look Back at the SRIRC and Changes Taking Place at King’s

Hello everyone,

First things first, my name is Tobias Udsholt and I will be working with the Sustainability Team at King’s over the next few months.

As a student at King’s I have spent a lot of time engaged on issues relating to asustainability. Now that I have completed my degree, I am very excited to spend the summer months putting words into action. I will only be with the team for a short period of time before I begin an MSc in Environmental Economics at LSE in September, but I hope to get a lot done. You can get in touch with me directly on tobias.1.udsholt@kcl.ac.uk.

One area of particular interest to me is the debate over the role and responsibilities of universities in relation to the array of societal challenges we collectively face. As I see it, universities stand uniquely placed to nurture an understanding of the importance of sustainability amongst its students while playing a positive and active role in the wider social debate.

Grass root campaigns calling for divestment from fossil fuel companies have sparked intense debate on university campuses over the past few years. How far should universities go in taking a stance on issues such as climate change? Can engagement with companies whose business-models centre on the extraction of fossil fuels help shift us towards a more sustainable trajectory? And how should strategical objectives be balanced with ethical dilemmas?

King’s responded to the Fossil Free KCL campaign in November 2015, by setting up the Socially Responsible Investment Review Committee (SRIRC) and tasking it with a wide-ranging review of practices. On the same occasion Professor Ed Byrne, the Principal of King’s, released a statement reiterating “the commitment of King’s College London to doing more to bring about a low carbon and just world.”

The review conducted at King’s is distinct from the approach taken by many other universities in the UK. Rather than focusing solely on the framework for making investment decisions, the scope of the SRIRC extends to in-house energy management, research grants and contracts, fundraising, procurement and of course investments. By formulating a new university-wide strategy for incorporating ethical considerations into daily-operations, sustainability is put on the agenda across the board. This presents a good opportunity for the Sustainability Team to feed in ideas for new sustainable procedures in a variety of areas. If you want to participate in this process you can either send your recommendations directly to ian.creagh@kcl.ac.uk or via us at sustainability@kcl.ac.uk.

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On Wednesday, the SRIRC held its second Open Forum to discuss the draft recommendations issued by the committee. I invite you all to browse through the discussion points but among the highlights are the following:

  • King’s plans to identify high quality managers that specialise in investments in solutions to climate change and other environmentally friendly issues.
  • King’s is currently working to create more incentives for academics to disclose consulting engagements.
  • There is spectrum for closer supervision of the supply-chains of contractors employed by King’s.
  • Policy is in place to reject prospective funding from organisations that are deemed harmful.

The discussion paper also revealed that King’s has been an important player in the establishment of a new tobacco-free fund at BlackRock Investments. This illustrates that there are a number of options available to secondary investors that do not directly control the destination of their investment.

The Open Forum itself was lively and well-attended. The panel-speakers included two student representatives, Dr. Tytus Murphy and Nadine Almanasfi, the Student Union President, as well as Ian Creagh, Head of Administration and College Secretary, Chris Mottershead, Vice-Principal (Research & Innovation) and Professor Sridhar Venkatapuram. In the ensuing question-and-answer session students probed the criteria set out to identify opportunities for positive investment and how the governance structure of the committee will be formalised going forward.

The SRIRC will make their final recommendations to the Principal by October.

Next week is Bike Week at King’s so expect a foray of information on cycling facilities, safety and initiatives at King’s.

Until next time!

 

GSTT Dental Link Nurse Team win Sustainability Award

nhsawardThe already prestigious Guy’s and St Thomas’ Dental Institute has one more reason to be seen as world leading! As well as training 20% of all dentists in England, the Dental Link Nurse team is now saving £40,000 annually in material waste costs. This great example of sustainable practise has won them an NHS Sustainability Award.

Savings

The Nurse team found plenty of ways to reduce expenditure and waste so that more of the budget could be used to enhance care and training. By switching from exam kits to the just required mirrors for consultant clinics they saved around £500 a week on procurement and over £70 on waste.

Other changes such as transitioning from disposable to reusable gallipots, labelling bins and an atmosphere more excited in sustainability lead to an equivalent of 56 tonnes less carbon emissions from waste incineration as well as saving £42,000 over the past year which has been fed back into the department.

 Future Plans

The Dental Link Nurse team hopes to expand their savings to other clinical teams. By stressing the savings and communicating their successes to the rest of the Guy’s and St. Thomas’ Foundation NHS trust departments hopefully this great success will be replicated.

 

Socially Responsible Investment Review Committee Forum

Hi All

Jusocialst a quick reminder that we have the next Socially Responsible Investment Review Committee Forum tomorrow evening from 5pm to 7pm. It will be at S-2.08 at the Strand campus and will be an opportunity to hear what is happening in the world of King’s investment policy which involves ethical and sustainability issues such as fossil fuel companies. This is also a chance to have your voice heard on the topic.

More details can be found here.

Have a good week!