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In their own words, the Sustainable Food Trust (SFT) was founded in response to the deteriorating human and environmental crises associated with most of today’s food and farming systems. They set up the Global Farming Metric, a coalition of over 50 members, from supermarkets to farmers, all with the same goal, but their own insights and needs. The metric is there to help farmers make sustainable decisions and build a greener future for the environment, society, and the economy. It’s a coalition we’re proud to be part of.
We’re able to provide insight from a financial services perspective, while customers will be able to share their data with us through the GFM assessment. It’s a two-way street, and everyone involved shares the recognition that we're not going to solve climate change on our own.
There’s a lot going on in the climate change space for agriculture, with a whole array of tools and assessments already available. But farmers are often busy people, and typically we struggle to engage them when trialling new products and services. We have around 41,000 customers in the agriculture sector, banking around a third of the UK market, many of them smaller, family run businesses without access to the right data to make sustainable decisions. How do we cut through the noise and provide an experience for our agricultural customers that not only benefits them, but encourages them to get involved with climate change?
I reached out to Tracie Callaghan, our Innovation Lead for Climate Data & Technology, who is driving our partnership with the SFT find out.
Tracie moved into data in the last couple of year, and now leads the innovation agenda for Climate Data & Technology that sources new and better data that helps us meet our climate goals. ‘In the UK, a large proportion of agriculture companies are owned and run by individuals, which can make it challenging to gain access to the right quality of data. But these agricultural organisations make up about 10% of the UK emissions, making it a key sector to target.’
As the Innovation Lead, Tracie is tasked with sourcing new and better-quality data to support better decision making. ‘I get involved in a lot of the early proof of concept type work, running pilots that support other areas of the bank, analysing the results, and making recommendations on how they could move forward.’ Tracie’s work spans across a lot of our data teams. ‘We've got a modelling team, an advanced analytics team and a data architecture team to name a few, all enabling each other to perform to the best of their ability.’
Before our partnership with the SFT, Tracie looked at what other organisations are doing in the space to see if they aligned with her bold ambitions. ‘There are a lot of organisations out there have big aims on the surface, but when you scratch below the surface aren’t putting into practice what they preach’.
Tracie’s introduction to the SFT was through an article published by their Deputy CEO Adele Jones, about the work they've been doing to improve data quality and consistency. The two got into deep conversation about the scale of the challenges we face, and solutions that can drive meaningful change. And so, the partnership began – both sides in agreement that they’re trying to achieve the same goals.
‘The SFT is a small charity with a lot of influence, so they need funding and support to be able achieve what they’ve set out’, Tracie says. At the start of 2020 we ran a pilot with the SFT to test the validity of what the data they can provide to support our emissions model. After its success, we entered a full partnership.
Together, we want to drive a mentality of positive change, Tracie says. ‘One of the greatest things about the trust is everyone is there to do the same by choice – a genuine concern towards the challenges we all face’.
It won’t come as a shock to read we’re in the middle of a climate emergency. If we don’t act now, there will be regions of the planet that will become uninhabitable in the upcoming years. And the finance sector has a major role to play, not only in terms of our own direct impact on climate change, but through the support we can provide to our customers.
Becoming a partner in the collation has been a personal achievement for Tracie. She collaborates with a range of stakeholders on a regular basis, from government officials to the heads of sustainability for some of the UK’s biggest supermarkets. For Tracie, her job satisfaction comes from making a genuine impact – understanding our agriculture customers and helping them transition to more sustainable practices. ‘A lot of farmers don't have the available resource or capital to hire a sustainability manager. So being able to lean on us for recommendations into what they might want to start looking into is a really useful tool to have at their disposable’.
Tracie explained why she thinks working here specifically has been a great experience for her, and why she’s excited for the future. ‘There’s a huge variety of roles on offer and the scale and breadth of what you can end up working on is huge. In climate alone we’re dealing with challenges in agriculture, residential property, energy, manufacturing, and now starting to look how remote sensing and space data and help us too’
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