By Danielle Nierenberg and Eve Gleeson

TOMORROW is World Environment Day. The theme, “Ecological Resilience”, is a reminder that as we recover from the pandemic, our planet also needs to heal. It’s more important than ever to turn our attention back to the climate crisis and its roots in an industrialised food system, whose shortcomings have been exposed throughout the pandemic. We must also breathe new life into the food and environmental movements by leveraging community non-profit organisations, the arts, and projects founded and led by a new generation of activists.

Throughout the pandemic, we have been forced to question the long-term costs of industrialised food on food security and public health, while neglecting the environmental consequences of our food system. Over the last 150 years, we have lost half of the planet’s topsoil. Forests and their ecosystems are regularly cleared to grow commodity crops. In Scotland, commercial fishing leaves 20 tonnes of plastic in Scottish seas every year, while agriculture serves as the major driver of biodiversity loss in the country.

Our food system is a leading contributor to the climate crisis. But also, part of the solution. A generation of changemakers in Scotland are building organiaations and projects to create a better food system. The Highland Good Food Partnership and Propagate Scotland in the West, both advocate for projects that embody Scotland’s transition to a sustainable food system. And Urban Roots in Glasgow and Forth Environment Link in Stirling are working towards community engagement in food-focused climate action.

Efforts to heal our food system and address the climate crisis are also abundant in Scotland’s arts community. Theatre company Eco Drama pursues climate education with productions like The Worm Inspectors, teaching children about food waste and composting. Creative Carbon Scotland’s Green Arts Initiative provides an interactive community for creatives bridging the gap between sustainability and the arts.

Food Tank, a non-profit working toward a sustainable food system, has also become a dedicated supporter of sustainability in the arts. Since the Fringe received the green light in early May, Food Tank has been assembling a climate-focused interactive musical, WeCameToDance, to be performed throughout the festival. Through immersive performance, we hope to inspire our audience towards activism as we tell the story of a climate crisis and sustainable societal models that could replace our own systems.

There is a vast disparity between those who understand the climate crisis as a crisis, and those who actually take action. With a new generation of young motivated climate leaders, and COP26 and the United Nations Food Systems Summit approaching, we see great opportunity for collaboration and a revitalisation of the climate movement.

The pandemic has tested us, but also proved that we can be resilient in the face of crisis. After months of isolation, loss, and grief, we must embrace ways to draw more people into the movement through projects that embody connectivity, joy, and resilience.

Danielle Nierenberg is President of Food Tank and Eve Gleeson is Food Tank’s UK Coordinator and Fellow. Food Tank is a global non-profit research and advocacy organization working to build a more sustainable food system based in the United States.