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Policy Watch

An eye on policy changes in Ireland, the UK and beyond

Right to Food | Environment NI | Equality, Race and Ethnicity NI

General  |  Thu Jul 15 2021

Right to Food

Five UN agencies issued a joint report on food security, highlighting a sharp rise globally in the number of people who do not have enough to eat: "nearly one in three people in the world (2.37 billion) did not have access to adequate food in 2020 – an increase of almost 320 million people in just one year", the report said. Separately, the UK's Centre for Food Policy set out nine principles and tests for the country's long-term food security and resilience, including targeted measures to reduce inequality as a way of fighting food poverty.

Alongside the Right to Food Campaign, Liverpool West Derby MP Ian Byrne gained cross-party support from 59 MPs for his early day motion calling for legislative recognition of the right to food. The legal right to food figures in the campaign aims he put to the group responsible for developing a National Food Strategy for the UK. In Scotland, MSP Rhoda Grant has forwarded a motion and called for similar legislation. In Northern Ireland, local food banks continue their work to help feed families in their communities.

Environment NI

As two climate change bills -- a private members one and a softer one drafted by DAERA -- progressed through Stormont, the chair of the UK Climate Change Committee warned that instability at Stormont could hinder progress on climate concerns here. On a local level, Derry City and Strabane councillors passed a motion recognising the 'rights of nature' and mandating community workshops to develop a Declaration for the Rights of Nature for the council area over the next six months. Council will also produce a report on how to embed ‘Rights of Nature’ as a keystone concept into its decision-making, planning and operations.

Meanwhile, Westminster's cross-party Environmental Justice Commission published its report Fairness and Opportunity: a people-powered plan for the green transition. EU member states agreed a law making the bloc's greenhouse gas emissions targets legally binding. The World Resources Institute (WRI)'s Prize for Cities competition -- based on projects that efforts against urban inequality in a context of climate change -- was won by Rosario in Argentina for an urban agriculture program giving low-income residents access to underused land to grow their own food.

Equality, Race and Ethnicity NI

A survey carried out by the Belfast Youth Forum amongst young people from ethnic minority groups found that four out of five of them would leave Northern Ireland for somewhere that felt more inclusive if they had the chance.

Elsewhere, the Runnymede Trust published its submission to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on the situation of race and racism in England. It found that "racism is systemic in England and impacts BME groups’ enjoyment of rights", with BME groups more likely to live in poverty, to be in low-paid precarious work, to die of Covid-19 and to face disparities in housing, education, immigration and political participation. It noted that the situation had worsened over the past five years, particularly with regard to health and criminal justice, and concluded, "we believe that the government’s new approach to equalities, as outlined by the Minister for Women and Equalities in December 2020, will fail to improve these outcomes for BME communities and may in fact worsen them". Finally it drew attention to concerning pieces of legislation that would further these trends, including the Electoral Integrity Bill; the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill; and the New Immigration Plan.

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