City commits to developing Edinburgh as a sustainable food city

Move recognises Edinburgh’s ambition of net zero emissions by 2030.

Edinburgh has committed to putting food at the centre of its response to the climate emergency, after becoming a signatory to the International Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration.

Launched by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems and Nourish Scotland, the Declaration highlights the vital role food plays in meeting cities’ net zero targets, as well as helping to reduce poverty, inequality and poor health. 

And by becoming a signatory to the Declaration, the City of Edinburgh Council renews its commitment to sustainable food policies and joined up action, raising awareness of how people’s livelihoods, health and local biodiversity are all interconnected with production, manufacture, supply, consumption and disposal of food. 

The Declaration aligns with Edinburgh’s existing net zero commitments, which include:

  • Developing and implementing integrated food policies and strategies as key tools in the fight against climate change, captured in the Edinburgh’s first food growing strategy, ‘Growing Locally’ published in April 2021
  • Working to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from urban and regional food systems in accordance with the Paris Agreement, Edinburgh’s net zero by 2030 target, and work with regional partners
  • Calling on national governments to establish supportive and enabling policy frameworks to enable city partners to take action on climate change at the pace and scale needed to tackle the climate emergency 

The move follows on from the Council committing £130,000 to invest in expanding the provision of local food growing opportunities in the city earlier this year, along with a further £0.500 million to enhance Edinburgh’s parks, playparks, food growing and urban forests, with £4m of related capital investment.

Speaking about the move, Leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, Councillor Adam McVey said:

Food systems currently account for a third of total global greenhouse gas emissions and, with COP26 being hosted in Scotland later this year, we have a unique opportunity as Scotland’s capital city to bring food systems reform to the forefront of the climate debate.

Edinburgh’s pioneering local integrated food policies and strategies are helping to reduce the city’s impact on the environment and encouraging biodiversity. 

Through Growing Locally, our first ever food growing strategy, and our partnership with Edible Edinburgh, we’re already taking strides in increasing local food production and public awareness of the importance of sustainable food to our environment. 

This reflects our wider commitment to securing a more sustainable future for our citizens through tackling the climate emergency and working with partners towards ensuring the city of Edinburgh becomes net zero by 2030. 

We hope that signing the Declaration will help to highlight the importance of sustainable food to our environment, economy and communities across the city.

Deputy leader of the City of Edinburgh Council, Councillor Cammy Day added:

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the importance of community growing initiatives in reducing social isolation, and creating stronger, more connected communities as well as providing people with access to fresh, locally produced, low carbon food.

Growing and eating local food helps to reduce emissions from food miles, helps to encourage plants and wildlife to flourish, and can support a thriving local circular economy as part of the city’s efforts to tackle poverty. 

Becoming a signatory to the Declaration on Food and Climate recognises that food systems have an important role to play in regenerating local ecosystems and ensuring everyone has access to healthy and sustainable food.

Chair of Edible Edinburgh, Councillor George Gordon said: 

Edinburgh is home to a large and vibrant food economy which employs more than 32,000 people across almost 200 city businesses. 

Our thriving local food growing projects bring people and communities together, improve biodiversity and mitigate against the effects of climate change. 

Through our partnership with Edible Edinburgh, Edinburgh has already achieved the Bronze award for being a sustainable food city and is now working towards its Silver accreditation. As part of this we’re increasing local food growing activity and the supply of locally produced food and raising public awareness of the importance of sustainable food to our environment, economy and communities.

Edinburgh is also a Fairtrade City and, as a lead member of the Edible Edinburgh partnership, the City of Edinburgh Council is working towards developing Edinburgh as a sustainable food city.

Growing Locally, the city’s first food growing strategy, is encouraging organisations, communities and citizens to work together to increase opportunities for growing, support local food suppliers and ensure the health, wellbeing and biodiversity benefits of local food systems are shared across the city.  

In the lead up to COP26, IPES-Food and Nourish Scotland along with Declaration partners will provide a platform for signatories to share best practice and insights on developing and monitoring sustainable integrated food policies.. This will be followed by a series events during COP26 on the role of local and regional governments in building sustainable food systems. 

Published: September 14th 2021