The 28th Climate Summit (COP28) is being held at Expo City Dubai (Image by Unfccc)
A total of 134 countries, including Spain, on Friday endorsed a declaration at the 28th Climate Summit (COP28), being held in Dubai (United Arab Emirates), committing to adapt and transform their agriculture and food systems within the framework of their national climate plans.
The ‘Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action’ commits signatory governments to formally influence food and agriculture in their national climate commitments for the first time, and to increase funding for this purpose.
Food has long been a secondary issue at Climate Summits, despite accounting for a third of global emissions and being highly vulnerable to climate impacts.
The Declaration sends a clear signal that food is now firmly on the climate agenda, but according to some sourcess, the rhetoric will have to be turned into reality with clear actions, targets, timetables and financing for food systems in new national climate plans before COP30 in 20
THE RIGHT TO FOOD
The text, reported by Servimedia, indicates that the signing heads of state and government recognise that “unprecedented adverse climate impacts increasingly threaten the resilience of agriculture and food systems, as well as the ability of many, especially the most vulnerable, to produce and access food in the face of hunger, malnutrition and growing economic stress”.
Furthermore, the leaders underline “the need to progressively realise the right to adequate food”, as well as to ensure “access to safe, sufficient, affordable and nutritious food for all”.
They also note that agriculture and food systems are “central to the lives and livelihoods of billions of people, including smallholder farmers, family farmers, fisherfolk and other food producers and workers”.
“Any pathway to fully achieve the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement must include agriculture and food systems. We affirm that agriculture and food systems must urgently adapt and transform to respond to the imperatives of climate change,” they say.
They therefore commit to reduce the vulnerability of farmers, fishers and other food producers to the impacts of climate change, including through financial and technical support; increase efforts to support vulnerable people with social protection systems; support workers whose livelihoods are threatened by climate change; strengthen integrated water management in agriculture and food systems at all levels; and maximise climate and environmental benefits associated with agriculture and food systems.
Following the launch of the Declaration, Sophie Nodzenski, strategist for Greenpeace International’s Food and Agriculture Campaign, said that addressing emissions from food systems “is not optional”.
“Ending fossil fuel use is essential to meeting global climate goals, but transforming the global food system is a necessary and complementary piece of the puzzle. We welcome the political momentum of this Declaration”.
Not surprisingly, Greenpeace stressed that the Declaration is “only a starting point” and that the hard work will be on a country-by-country basis, as some countries with significant emissions from their food systems will have to reduce them.
In addition, Greenpeace called for clear targets and milestones for agriculture’s transition, such as reducing absolute emissions of greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide; reducing consumption of animal protein and supporting increased production and consumption of plant-based foods; and a just transition from macro-farms and monocultures to agroecology.
Elizabeth Nsimadala, president of the East African Farmers’ Federation, which represents 25 million smallholder farmers, said the Declaration is “the starting signal” for the transformation of food systems.
“The world’s 439 million smallholder family farmers are the key to bringing about the necessary changes. To ensure we can play our role, we need a real voice in food and climate decisions and more direct access to climate finance: we produce a third of the world’s food, but receive only 0.3% of international climate finance,” Nsimadala said.
Hilal Elver, former UN special rapporteur on the right to food and member of the Steering Committee of the High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition, commented that food systems cause a third of global emissions of global warming gases and are “one of the main drivers of wild visa loss”.
“It is time for the COP to put them on the main menu. Food and agriculture must be at the heart of new climate plans and financing if we are to deliver on the Paris agreement and have enough nutritious food for all,” he added.
Esther Penunia, secretary general of the Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Development, a regional alliance of national farmers’ organisations representing 13 million family farmers, stressed that the Declaration is “an important milestone on the road to a more resilient and sustainable food system”.
“The real work starts now. Governments need to work with family farmer networks to ensure that the promises made in Dubai are translated into concrete policies and funding to support small-scale producers – who produce a third of the world’s food – and promote a shift towards more diversified and nature-friendly agriculture,” he concluded.