Building ‘Momentum for Change’ is what motivates people at ProVeg to do what they do. And now it has been officially acknowledged: selected from a pool of more than 560 submissions, the ProVeg projects, Plant-Powered Pupils and KEEKS, have been awarded the United Nations Climate Action Award.
Against the background of lively discussions on how to tackle the threat of a changing climate, the ‘Momentum for Change’ award was handed over to ProVeg’s CEO Sebastian Joy at the Climate Change Conference (COP24) on 11 December 2018 in Katowice, Poland. “We see the award as a powerful motivator to keep raising awareness around health and environmental issues”, said Joy.
In September 2018, the UN Climate Change secretariat announced 15 projects from around the world which they considered “groundbreaking activities” in their approach to tackling climate change. Referred to as ‘Lighthouse Activities’ for their ability to shine a light “on the most inspiring and transformational mitigation and adaptation activities”, the winning projects “strengthen motivation, spur innovation, and catalyse further change towards a low-emission, high-resilient future.”1 The Momentum for Change award recognises innovative solutions that tackle not only climate change but also the wider economic, social, and environmental challenges arising from this context.2
Plant Powered Pupils for healthy children
The best way to implement long-lasting behaviours is to start early. As such, reaching out to young people is one of the most sustainable ways to create healthy eating habits. With this idea in mind, ProVeg launched their Plant- Powered Pupils programme (“Aktion Pflanzen-Power”) in 2016, supported by the German health insurance company BKK ProVita. Offering interactive cooking workshops and providing information about the impacts of our food choices, ProVeg aims to educate children and young people and empower them to make healthier eating choices. To date, more than 23,000 students from across Germany have been reached, with additional schools lining up to take part in the programme.
Tackling climate change with KEEKS
ProVeg is also a partner in KEEKS (Climate Efficient School Canteens), a joint project initiated and managed by IZT (Institute for Future Studies and Technology Assessment) as part of the National Climate Initiative. All partners* are committed to working towards more sustainable school canteens. KEEKS provides free trainings for kitchen staff, trainee chefs, and caterers in the preparation of sustainable, low-cost, healthy meal plans in public schools, encouraging them to include menu options that contain more plant-based, low-carbon-footprint alternatives to meat. Additionally, catering companies are offered counselling in the use of energy-saving kitchen appliances and sustainable waste management.
Since personal motivation and sustainable behavioural change can be most effectively implemented if there is support provided by external structures, ProVeg helps to make plant-based food options more widely available. The Food Service Department engages with institutional catering companies in order to support them with communication concepts and counselling services as well as cooking trainings for chefs and kitchen staff, helping them to gain knowledge and confidence in making healthy, sustainable, and cost-efficient meals. Thus far, the concept, which has been facilitated with the cooperation of Sodexo, a world leader in catering, has proven to be highly effective. In a well-promoted action week, 600 students were given the opportunity to choose a plant-based meal option for their daily school lunch. Encouraged by the positive feedback, Sodexo subsequently integrated some of the meals into their standard menu lines. Striving to internationalise those successes and to raise awareness for the opportunities that plant-based cooking in public institutions can offer, ProVeg UK launched their School Plates Programme in June 2018.
Healthy people, healthy planet
It is not just about launching two successful projects. The award acknowledges ProVeg’s multiple approaches which complement each other to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts: raising awareness for health and environmental topics in children and young people, and helping to create surroundings where healthy, climate-friendly food options are widely available. With this concept, ProVeg fits perfectly into the ‘Planetary Health’ category of the climate award. Recognizing that “human health and the health of our planet are inextricably linked”, the winning projects in this category are awarded as “solutions to balance the need for both human health and a healthy planet.”3 Both ProVeg and the United Nations agree that “one of the most powerful solutions in addressing climate change lies in the food we eat.”4
Just the beginning
Encouraged by the acknowledgement and validation of its approach, ProVeg is expanding its activities in the field of early interventions. The recently launched campaign ‘Delicious Food for All’ aims to raise further awareness for the potential of plant-based school meals, as well as providing trainings and support for professionals. With no technological obstacles to replication, multiple ProVeg countries are about to integrate similar school programme activities in their agendas. Internationalising these efforts helps to empower students around the world to work towards health and climate goals – and to serve as a lighthouse for the plant-based movement.
*Joint project KEEKS: Initiated by the Institute for Future Studies and Technology Assessment (IZT Berlin) and supported by funding from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), this project is a collaboration between ProVeg, the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Faktor 10, the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research Heidelberg, and Netzwerk e.V.
- United Nations Climate Change: Momentum for Change: Lighthouse activities. Available online: https://unfccc.int/climate-action/momentum-for-change/lighthouse-activities [26.10.18]
- United Nations Climate Change: Momentum for Change https://unfccc.int/climate-action/momentum-for-change [26.10.18]
- United Nations Climate Change: Planetary Health. Available online: https://unfccc.int/climate-action/momentum-for-change/planetary-health [26.10.18]
- United Nations Climate Change: Climate-Efficient School Kitchens and Plant-Powered Pupils | Germany. Available online: https://unfccc.int/climate-action/momentum-for-change/planetary-health/climate-efficient-school-kitchens-and-plant-powered-pupils [26.10.18]