Defra

DEFINITION: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is the UK Government department responsible for environmental protection, food production and standards in the standards, agriculture, fisheries and rural communities in the UK.

See also: BEIS

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Nearly half the global population are already living in potential water-scarce areas 

England at serious risk of water shortage by 2040, MPs warn

England is at "serious risk" of running out of water within 20 years because of policymakers', regulators' and the water sector's failure to tackle leakage and align with net-zero.

Pre-pandemic, most urban areas in the UK registered illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution, and the nation's overall levels exceeded World Health Organisation limits

Business for Clean Air: New initiative to help corporates tackle air pollution as lockdown lifts

Large UK businesses are now able to access a new array of tools aimed at helping them to tackle air pollution, after numerous surveys revealed that the British public are keen to see improvements in air quality maintained after lockdown.

As we move into the second half of June, just six months of the initial transition period remain

Is the UK on track for a green Brexit?

It's been a big week for Brexit news, with the UK kick-starting trade talks with Australia and progressing negotiations with the US and EU. But concerns that the promised 'green' Brexit will fail to materialise are mounting against a backdrop of no-deal warnings and the Covid-19 pandemic.

The projects will receive funding and assistance to develop business plans with the aim of attracting additional private sector investment

Defra backs natural capital investment projects

Four projects focused on protecting and restoring natural habitat across the UK are being backed by Government funding as part of a pilot scheme to funnel more private sector investment into the natural environment.

Farming is one of the sectors most exposed to environmental and climate risk

MPs to vote virtually on Agriculture Bill

The House of Commons is set to undergo its first virtual voting procedure today (13 May), with MPs given one last opportunity to amend the Agriculture Bill which is designed to safeguard agricultural processes and the natural environment.

Mission Possible: Achieving a sustainable future for RETAIL

edie’s insight report series provides an in-depth exploration of the steps that sustainability and energy professionals within Britain's retail industry can take to achieve a sustainable future, today.

The disclosure digest - Five steps to align sustainability with investor needs

This report is based on a session of discussions and co- creation hosted in association with edie’s 2020 Sustainability Leaders Forum. The half-day event took place on 3 February in London and saw sustainability managers from a wide range of businesses take part in collaborative roundtables. During the discussions, sustainability managers outlined key challenges and discussed the exciting new opportunities in the areas that mattered the most.

edie Explains: Net-zero carbon business

What is 'net-zero' in the context of business emissions? Which organisations are most suited to adopting net-zero carbon strategies? And, what is the impact of the coronavirus on the net-zero movement?

The Sustainability Reporting and Communications Handbook 2020

Launched during edie’s Engagement Week (4-8 May), the Sustainability Reporting and Communications Handbook 2020 provides readers with expert advice when it comes to relaying the importance of sustainability to key stakeholders; along with fresh insights to create, deliver and share a compelling sustainability report.

Greene King was the first pub to launch a partnership with the food redistribution app Too Good To Go 

Greene King reaches zero-waste-to-landfill status

Greene King has become the first UK pub chain to achieve the Carbon Trust’s Zero Waste to Landfill Standard, after diverting all waste streams away from landfill across its 1,700 managed pubs.

Green groups don't believe the current circumstances warrant a delay

Ban on plastic straws in England pushed back to October 2020

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has pushed back the ban on plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds set to come into force later this month to October 2020, to the dismay of campaigners.

(Top-left to bottom-right): Centrica Business Solutions' Louis Burford; Decathlon's Emma Woolley; Centrica's Andrea Barrett; and edie's Luke Nicholls, who chaired the Virtual Roundtable

The net-zero bulldozer: Have the SDGs been forgotten in an era of climate activism?

2019 will be remembered as a year of unprecedented climate action, with improved science and mass citizen engagement spurring nations and businesses to set net-zero targets. But amid this rush of climate action, have the other social and environmental issues set out by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) been deprioritised?

The UK’s annual food waste output in 2017 stood at 10.2 million tonnes

Government issues £3m grant to tackle food waste during coronavirus outbreak

The UK Government has issued a £3.25m redistribution fund across England to help organisations cut back on food waste by redistributing surplus stock during the coronavirus outbreak.

By 2045, there will be 7% less water available for abstraction across the UK, the report states

Parts of England could run short of water within 20 years, NAO warns

Unsustainable water abstraction processes and infrastructure, compounded by climate change and population growth, will result in parts of southern England running out of water within 20 years.

Defra analysts broadly attribute this trend to the decarbonisation of energy used to manufacture products. Pictured: The Cottam Coal plant, which closed last September. Image: EDF

UK's carbon footprint 21% below peak levels, latest Government figures show

The UK's total carbon footprint - a term used to cover consumption-related emissions wherever in the world they occur - fell by 21% between 2007 and 2017, new Government data has revealed.

As of 2018, England's water consumption on a per capita basis was 143 litres daily 

UK water industry criticises 'unclear' Government approach to efficiency

The trade body representing the UK's water sector has criticised the Government's previous action and planned moves for water efficiency in homes and business, as water use is set to rise amid the Coronavirus outbreak.

Before departing in February, Eustice had been in Defra since October 2013

From fruit farmer to Environment Secretary: George Eustice to spearhead Defra

George Eustice has become the seventh Environment Secretary since 2010, after replacing Theresa Villiers who was sacked as part of Boris Johnson's cabinet reshuffle today (13 February).

(Top-left to bottom-right): Alok Sharma; Rishi Sunak; George Eustice; Andrea Leadsom; Sajid Javid; and Theresa Villiers have all been in in the spotlight as Boris Johnson wields the axe at his Cabinet

Cabinet reshuffle: All the key personnel changes that will impact the green economy

BREAKING: Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers has been sacked and replaced by George Eustice, while Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom has been replaced by International Development Secretary Alok Sharma, who has also been named as COP26 President.   

 edie rounds up the commentary on key areas of the Environment Bill

'A much-need overhaul': Green groups react to revamped Environment Bill

Green groups have welcomed the reintroduction of the Government's 'gold standard' Environment Bill today (30 January), noting that it could be "truly transformative" if it is able to set out legal guarantees on the delivery of a raft of new policy commitments.

The Bill confirms that the OEP will cover all climate change legislation, including the commitment to reach net-zero emissions by 2050

UK Government's 'gold standard' Environment Bill reintroduced

The UK Government's long-awaited Environment Bill has finally been reintroduced to Parliament, outlining powers to stop the exports of plastic waste to developing countries, and revamped governance systems on clean air and biodiversity and two-yearly reviews to update the Bill if required.

The Bill was initiailly introduced in October 2018, then delayed over the Brexit process. Image: Brian Forbes CC BY 2.0 

Agriculture Bill introduced, outlining sweeping post-Brexit environmental measures

The Department for Food, the Environment and Rural Affairs' (Defra) Agriculture Bill has been introduced today (16 January), confirming the Government's plans for rewarding farmers that make environmental improvements and safeguarding green standards post-Brexit.

Clockwise from top left: Professor James Yu, Barbara Vest, Professor Philip Jones and Rachel Kyte are among the green economy figures on this year's New Year honour list 

New Years Honours 2020: The sustainability champions on the Queen's list

The 2020 New Year Honours list has recognised the outstanding achievements of more than 90 figures across the UK's environmental sphere, including green business figures, policy experts and scientists working to combat climate change and marine pollution.

Sustainability Leaders Awards 2020: Meet the Finalists

After a record-breaking year of entries, the judges have convened, decisions have been made and edie is proud to unveil the well-deserved finalists for the 2020 Sustainability Leaders Awards. This report outlines the who's who of sustainability excellence.

8 steps for overcoming the behavioural change challenge

During the SPARK 2.0 event, energy and sustainability professionals discussed the barriers to behaviour change and how businesses could harness the wider awareness of the climate strikes to engage all staff members on the need to manage energy use.

The 4 big ideas for net-zero carbon strategies

Experts across energy management came together at edie’s SPARK! 2.0 event to discuss the role that strategy could play in the delivery of net-zero carbon targets.

edie brings you three exclusive interviews across public, private and specialist firms

Sustainable Business Covered podcast: Green university leagues and energy storage

Episode 76 of edie's Sustainable Business Covered podcast features interviews with the University of Gloucestershire's director of sustainability Dr Alex, Ryan on topping a green university league, EDF Energy on a new storage master series as well as a chat with company Xerox's vice president for environment, health, safety and sustainability Wendi Latko.

Eleanor has provided consultancy services for business clients across a range of sectors, including construction, infrastructure, pharmaceuticals and transport

Meet edie's 30 Under 30 Class of 2019: Eleanor King, AECOM

This series profiles the members of edie's 30 Under 30 - a nomination-based community of 30 hugely talented young sustainability and energy professionals who have already achieved great things or are showing fantastic promise. Next up: Eleanor King, sustainability consultant at AECOM.

Pictured: Roydon Common Nature Reserve 

UK Government's spending on trees 'has plummeted by £20m since 2015'

The UK Government spent almost £20m less on tree planting in the financial year 2017-18 than it did in 2014-15, according to an analysis of official figures by Friends of the Earth (FotE).

Defra’s chief digital and information officer Christopher Howes (left) with representatives from Unicef UK, UNEP, WWF and Axelos. Image: Sarah George

E-sustainability Alliance: Defra launches new coalition championing green IT

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has launched a new initiative bringing together businesses, NGOs and policymakers in a joint ambition to making the UK's information technology (IT) sector more sustainable.

The Government has unveiled how it plans to leave the environment in a better state 

Deposit return schemes and biodiversity net-gain: Raft of new policies unveiled in Environment Bill

The UK Government has launched its new governance system on issues covering clean air, waste management and plastics pollution, natural capital approaches and water stewardship, in the form of the long-awaited Environment Bill. 

Mission Possible: Achieving a net-zero carbon future for manufacturing

As the movement towards net-zero carbon takes hold across the commercial sector, this fresh insight report looks at how manufacturing companies are driving forward their own goals.

Business Energy Barometer: August - September 2019

edie's second Business Energy Barometer report maps out the key energy drivers, challenges and opportunities facing UK businesses, based on an in-depth survey of energy managers across the country in the past quarterly period.

Green GB Week delayed due to Brexit

Green GB and NI Week is due to be delayed until next year as a result of the current situation regarding the UK's exit from the European Union.

The UK's national food policy frameworks have not undergone a major update for 75+ years

Defra takes first step towards sustainable food system transformation

The Department for Food, the Environment and Rurual Affairs (Defra) has opened the first public consultation on its upcoming National Food Strategy, which aims address issues of environmental sustainability and nutrition across the food value chain.

Photo: ToryScot [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)] 

Lord Ian Duncan appointed to BEIS, completing Department's new ministerial line-up

Lord Ian Duncan has been appointed as the UK's Minister for Climate Change, completing the new line-up at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

The guide is bookended by an insightful foreword from Green Alliance's Libby Peake, and an industry viewpoint penned by Helistrat's chief executive Harvey Laud

Resources & Waste Strategy: edie publishes concise business guide to Government document

edie has today (14 August) published a free guide for sustainability and environmental professionals which breaks down everything they need to know about the UK Government's Resources & Waste Strategy into a single, easy-to-read document.

Pictured: Castleshaw Upper Reservoir, Oldham 

Water resources infrastructure policy due this Autumn

The government has completed a consultation period and is preparing to deliver its National Policy Statement (NPS) for Water Resources Infrastructure in the Autumn.

The call to action is being co-ordinated by the Campaign for Freedom of Information

Post-Brexit environment watchdog must be transparent, green groups urge

A coalition of almost 40 environmental organisations including Greenpeace, WWF UK and ClientEarth is calling for the Draft Environment Bill to be altered, to ensure that the public can request disclosure from the UK's post-Brexit watchdog.

Eustice is a former farmer and the only Cornish MP to be granted a government position so far by Johnson. Image: UK Parliament 

George Eustice re-appointed to Defra by Boris Johnson

George Eustice MP has been given back his former role as Agriculture Minister by new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, after leaving the post in February.

The Green Brexit Matrix: What do the different outcomes mean for environmental policy?

With Boris Johnson entering number 10 as the new Prime Minister, the likelihood of a no deal Brexit has increased. This download, originally published in April, explores the potential exit scenarios and the impacts they will have on UK sustainability, energy and environment policy.

Theresa Villiers appears to be an advocate for climate action, strong environmental policies and low-carbon initiatives. Photo: Nikki Powell [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)]

Cabinet reshuffle: Theresa Villiers replaces Michael Gove as Environment Secretary

Theresa Villiers last night (24 July) returned to Government by taking over from Michael Gove as UK Environment Secretary, as part of a radical change of cabinet from new Prime Minister Boris Johnson.  

The roundtable was chaired by Business in the Community’s environmental director Gudrun Cartwright and included 16 other sustainability and climate leaders

Climate leadership roundtable: Are we on the right track for a net-zero economy?

The UK Government's recent move to legislate for net-zero emissions by 2050 has been widely welcomed across the green economy - but how should businesses respond? edie recently convened a group of sustainability leaders from an array of industry sectors to discuss exactly that.

edie recaps a week of major policy announcement 

CCS, food waste and deposit return schemes: Recapping a week of major green policy announcements

As Boris Johnson settles into his first day as the UK Prime Minister, Defra, the Treasury and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have released a flurry of documents to strengthen approaches to environmental regulation, energy policy and packaging production.