COP27 casts rays of hope for inclusion of food system change on UN agenda – but still a long way to go
25 November 2022
Momentum started in Egypt for food system change will continue in the United Arab Emirates, says Food4Climate Coalition
This year’s UN climate conference (COP27) has cast a ray of hope on the prospect of food system change being included on the UN agenda for next year’s COP28 as a way to mitigate climate change. However, whilst the first steps have been taken, there is still a long way to go to ensure food system change becomes an integral part of the negotiations.
The event, held in Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt, already witnessed a major breakthrough, with the UN granting the first ever approval for food system-focused pavilions to be set up on site, including the Food4Climate Pavilion.
As a consequence, delegates from 200 UN member states were able to actively engage with the subject of how food production and consumption systems are contributing to large scale greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and biodiversity loss.
With the closing of COP27, Food4Climate partners said they were optimistic that COP28 – to be held next November in the United Arab Emirates – will put food system change higher up the agenda.
“Through talks, press conferences, one-to-one meetings and a dedicated Agriculture Day, we were able to talk to many delegates about the critical, yet overlooked need to transform our food systems,” Raphaël Podselver, spokesman for the Food4Climate Pavilion, said.
The groundbreaking presence of these food-focused pavilions also allowed for the strengthening of networks and coalitions between supporters of food systems change.
“We saw how our message got through, in particular through delegates’ understanding – perhaps for the first time – of the crucial role food systems play in tackling climate change. We made it crystal clear that without addressing food system change, there will be no chance of meeting the agreed international climate goals,” Podselver added.
Food production is responsible for a third of global greenhouse gas emissions and around 20% of total emissions can be attributed to animal agriculture. For man-made methane emissions, the contributions of livestock climb higher, to around 32%.
The Food4Climate Pavilion promoted, in particular, the need for a just transition away from harmful resource-intensive agriculture and towards fair, healthy, humane, diverse and resilient food systems. Shifting to more plant-rich diets, adopting agroecological practices and reducing food loss and waste will be key in making such a transition happen. Crucially, the Pavilion partners pointed out that no-one should be left behind, including small-scale farmers, youth, Indigenous People, and women.
“The Food4Climate Pavilion helped shine a spotlight on dozens of organizations building momentum around the role of youth, Indigenous Peoples, and farmers in improving how we produce and consume food”, Danielle Nierenberg, President of Food Tank, a co-organiser of the pavilion, said.
While this year’s climate talks certainly helped raise awareness about the importance of food systems, the negotiated outputs hardly reflect this trend. The final conclusion on the UN’s main framework for discussing the role of food and agriculture in global warming – the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture – crucially lacks ambition and omits the need for consumption changes altogether.
Partners will therefore be looking to establish another pavilion at next year’s summit, COP28, in Dubai, in order to push for more ambitious action on food systems change.
“Our presence will be even stronger next time, having familiarised the subject of food system change with so many delegates. We look forward to next year to see climate talk outcomes highlight the necessity to shift to more sustainable food systems as an urgent way to mitigate climate change,” Podselver said.
Notes to Editors
For media inquiries, email Raphaël Podselver at [email protected]
About the Food4Climate Pavilion
Food4Climate Pavilion will aim to present food systems transformation as a key mitigation and adaptation solution to the climate crisis at this year’s COP27 conference in Egypt in November.
The Pavilion’s diverse stakeholders highlight the rich plurality of actors and factors shaping our food systems. With a strong focus on Just Transition, the programme will explore multiple perspectives and concrete ways to create inclusive mechanisms for leveraging the potential of plant-rich diets to make our food systems more sustainable and equitable.
Core organisers of the Food4Climate Pavilion: A Well-Fed World, Compassion in World Farming, Food Tank, FOUR PAWS, The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES Food), ProVeg International.
NGO partners: 50by40, A Well-Fed World, Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, Center for Earth Ethics, Compassion in World Farming, Jeremy Coller Foundation, FOUR PAWS, Humane Society International, MENA Youth Network, ProVeg International, World Animal Protection, Youth Loves Egypt and YOUNGO.
Think tank partners: Brighter Green, Food Tank, The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES Food)
Food industry partners: Enough, Impossible Foods, Oatly, Upfield