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Need for food systems action recognised at COP28

News Section Icon Published 15/12/2023

In a landmark move at this year's COP28, we witnessed an acknowledgment of the critical role food systems play in climate action.

Climate Change And Deforestation

The conference, held in Dubai, saw a dedicated Food, Agriculture and Water Day for the first time and hundreds of events focused on food systems, shining a spotlight on the need for transformation to tackle the climate crisis.

For the second year running, we partnered with other NGOs and organisations to organise the Food4Climate Pavilion, which focused on inclusive, science-based solutions to transform food systems, including protein diversification and promoting climate-friendly diets. 

Emirates Declaration

One noteworthy outcome was the signing of the Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action by more than 150 countries. This Declaration commits nations, including major greenhouse gas emitters like Brazil, China, the European Union, and the United States to integrate food into their climate plans by 2025.

Our Head of International Affairs, Eirini Pitsilidi said: “We welcome this Declaration as it shows a recognition by more than 150 nations of the urgent need for action on agriculture and food systems to address the climate crisis. We look forward to supporting governments in transitioning their food systems for a healthier, more sustainable, and higher welfare existence for humans, animals, and the planet."

Later during the conference, we were proud to announce that we had joined a broad coalition of more than 150 non-governmental stakeholders in a Call to Action for Transforming Food Systems for People, Nature, and Climate. This declaration reflects the increasingly universal recognition that our food systems can help solve—not just exacerbate—climate change.

Positive Declaration on health

Throughout COP28, our team on the ground took part in various events and discussions, contributing insights and perspectives on the intersection of food, animal agriculture, climate, and human health.

The inaugural Health Day at COP28 saw the announcement of the COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate and Health, a groundbreaking initiative aimed at placing health at the forefront of climate action.

In response to the Declaration, Eirini commented: “This Declaration recognises that human, animal, environment, and climate health are deeply linked and must be addressed as such, which is particularly helpful. We are eager to engage with signatories on reducing animal-sourced food consumption in high consuming populations and exploring how nature-positive practices can help reduce antibiotic use in farming. We hope this progressive Declaration will galvanise action across the 143 signatory countries and we look forward to engaging with them to ensure our food systems maximise health and welfare for people, animals and our planet.” 

On Food, Agriculture and Water Day, our team hosted an insightful side event called Tackling the Intractable: The Political Economy of a Livestock Transition in Line with Climate Goals. This event, with speakers including our Head of Research, Sarah Ison, as well as two experts from world renowned think-tank, Chatham House, delved into the political realities of aligning livestock production and consumption with climate goals.

Earlier in the week, our Global Director of Campaigns and Policy Advocacy, Debbie Tripley, raised the alarm on the impending tipping point for our planet during an event co-hosted by us called Food Systems Transformation: Elevating Healthy Diets & Protein Diversification as Climate Solutions.

We need more action

While overall, significant strides were made at COP28 in recognising the role of food systems in climate action, there is a pressing need to transform this recognition to clear policy actions which will ensure a sustainable future for all.

Read more about our work at COP28.


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