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We’ve been super excited for a while now about reviewing 1,000 policy proposals on the future of food, farming and the countryside.

In our last blog, we described 5 key insights and included a tool to explore the findings visually.

Chances are that unless you’re a policy geek (no offence to geeks out there) you haven’t spent your nights navigating the proposals. We feel you.

As the saying goes, pleasure comes from sharing so, if you haven’t yet explored them, let me walk you through to whet your appetite.


Step 1 – Let’s get started: where have the proposals come from

“If you want to understand something, always start with a map” my school teachers used to say. So, here’s where ideas come from: the UK has been our main focus but we also included over 100 international proposals. Since the Commission is working on how to ensure a meaningful transition to a post-Brexit UK, it is important to ask ourselves what can we learn from other countries about the investment and support needed to make a success of such substantial change.

When you use the live version of data explorer, you can read about the individual proposals in the circles. 

By playing with the drop-down menu in the bottom right of the screen you can easily get details. For example, we wanted to know which bodies were making more proposals in different countries: the proposals we found from Northern Ireland were mainly from cross-sector partnerships like our own Commission, whereas the third sector were most prolific in making proposals elsewhere.


Step 2 – Who wrote the 1000 proposals?

We can look at this in more detail. Within the third sector, proposals mainly came from NGOs. There was also a large number from the public sector, and many from previous commissions and partnerships. We found fewer from industry and trade bodies.


Step 3 – What are they talking about?

We also looked at the scope of each proposal across different aspects of food, farming and the countryside. Many proposals were strongly relevant to farming, land use and food, while few proposals were as relevant to energy, for example focused on renewables.

Among the proposals we found with a strong focus on the environment, the largest number focused on biodiversity, followed by fisheries. Fewer proposals focused climate change or water. NGOs and think tanks were relatively quiet on climate change.

What strategic interventions are needed to make UK food, farming and countryside resilient to climate change, and to ensure we fulfil our obligations in the Sustainable Development Goals to avoid ‘offshoring’ our environmental footprint to other parts of the world?


Step 4 – How are topics related?

The proposals seemed to be in silos. Here, we compare proposals addressing different aspects (horizontal axis) by their health and well-being benefit (vertical axis) and overall benefit (size of circle). Most proposals which we rated as having a strong potential impact on health and wellbeing were to do with food. Most farming and land proposals promised a moderate impact on health and wellbeing - very few farming proposals focused strongly on health and wellbeing. What would health-focused farms look like in different parts of the UK?

You can use the "Compare" menu below in the bottom right to reorder proposals on impacts such as "social justice" or "biodiversity".


Step 5 – How are the proposals hoping to make change?

The largest number are about generating or sharing information, particularly to develop strategies or plans. NGOs and think tanks are twice as likely as the private sector to propose grants, public payments or other incentives, and propose overhauls of legislation more frequently than the private sector does. Perhaps surprisingly, we found proposals for bans or restrictions in equal measure from both sectors.


Step 6 - Which types of intervention are proposed to deliver which benefits?

For example, financial interventions are commonly proposed to provide environmental or economic benefits, but rarely social ones. The concept of paying for public goods (pink circles) dominates environmental finance interventions but is largely absent from social finance interventions. Taxes (grey circles) are more commonly proposed to provide social benefits (including health benefits).


Step 7 - It's up to you!

The snapshots I’ve run through here are just a handful of the countless ways the tool lets you look at this sample of 1,000 policy proposals. What questions do you want to explore? Where do you see gaps or hotspots of activity? Where would you have rated proposals differently?

Please have play with it and tell us what you find responding to our Call for Ideas.


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