With just one month remaining until the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC COP28), a global coalition of 70 organisations and high-profile individuals has issued an urgent call to integrate a food systems approach within the UNFCCC.
In a joint open letter, the coalition of leading international organisations – which includes WWF, Global Alliance for the Future of Food (GAFF), The Food Systems Partnership, Ikea Foundation and Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU) – urges Parties to the UNFCCC to acknowledge the critical role of food systems - including food production, consumption and waste, land use change, and nutrition - in achieving the Paris Agreement goals.
João Campari, Global Food Practice Leader, WWF, comments: “When it comes to food and climate there are three irrefutable facts: first, that if we don’t reduce food-based greenhouse gas emissions, there is no way to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees; second, no matter how much we mitigate, where and what we can grow will change, so we will have to adapt our food systems; third, climate change, biodiversity loss and food and nutrition insecurity are closely related problems that need a joint solution. This relies on urgent acceleration of implementation on the ground, both to mitigate and adapt to climate change.”
“We need to see strong action at the national level, starting with the application of food systems approaches in SSJW, NDCs and NAPs. There is a big opportunity for negotiators at COP28 to grasp this opportunity and show the leadership needed to scale food-based climate and nature action.”
This comes at a critical point for government negotiators working on agriculture and food security, who will be meeting in Rome on the 30th October, the last opportunity to build consensus and drive forward the meaningful inclusion of food systems approaches in the climate negotiations before COP28 commences at the end of November.
The demands build on a similar push during COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, which saw nearly 100 organisations from across the food, climate and nature sectors sign a joint open letter to negotiators urging the inclusion of food systems in the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture.
Morgan Gillespy, Global Director of the Food and Land Use Coalition who are co-hosts of the Food Systems Pavilion at COP28, states: “To unlock action that is proportionate to the scale and urgency of the crisis at hand, we must strive to put food systems approaches at the heart of the UNFCCC process. Achieving this at COP28 would be a bold stride in the direction of 1.5C and a healthy, resilient and sustainable food future for all.”
“While the newly established workstream – now called the Sharm el-Sheikh Joint Work on Implementation of Climate Action of Agriculture and Food Security (SSJW) – failed to integrate a holistic approach to food systems in its activities at negotiations during the Bonn Climate Change Conference in June, the coalition hopes to increase the ambition of negotiators ahead of COP28.”
On a national level, the signatories are also calling for food systems actions to be incorporated into National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), and long-term strategies. This would in turn encourage the creation and implementation of national policies to support sustainable food production, reductions in food loss and waste, a shift towards healthy and sustainable diets, the conservation and restoration of ecosystems, and the scaling of healthy soil practices.
Etharin Cousin, Founder and CEO Food Systems for the Future, former executive director of the United Nations World Food Programme, added: “The urgency of integrating a food systems approach within the UNFCCC at COP28 is clear. Food systems, including emission reduction beyond agricultural production, are critical for achieving Paris Agreement goals. The food system from farm to consumer consumption significantly contributes to the emissions driving the climate crisis. The food system is also uniquely vulnerable to climate change impacts, detrimentally affecting food security.”
“To keep 1.5°C alive, we must address food systems comprehensively, considering food waste, consumption, biodiversity loss, and land use change. This diversity of solutions approach is crucial. The complexity of the food system demands the simultaneous funding and implementation of a diversity of solutions ensuring equitable, resilient, and just responses to climate change while securing global food security.”