During a recent session on women, climate, and finance at the U.N. Climate Change Conference, speakers argued that inadequate funding is reaching food and agriculture solutions. The conversation was organized by Food Tank in partnership with the Food4Climate Pavilion.
Food systems account for roughly one third of global greenhouse gas emissions. But “climate finance currently is not aligned at all with our climate objectives,” says Patty Fong, Program Director for Climate and Health & Well-Being at the Global Alliance for the Future of Food. She explains that more than US$600 billion per year goes toward agriculture production, and roughly US$500 billion lacks “guardrails around climate, environment, or health.” This means that the funds may be going toward conventional agricultural practices that often harm the environment.
But community-based projects and the private sector are developing solutions to transform the world’s food and agriculture systems and help become more nourishing, equitable and regenerative.
At Aleph Farms, a cultivated meat company, they are working to develop an alternative to conventional meat. The goal is not to replace animal agriculture, says Lee Recht, Vice President of Sustainability at Aleph Farms. Rather it seeks to offer an additional option in an effort to lessen some of the strain that animal agriculture places on the environment.
“We need to look at the mutual goal, and the mutual goal is that we want to produce healthy, nutritious, sustainable, and resilient food,” Recht says. “And to do that we want to diversify the way we produce our food.”
But Recht believes that Aleph Farms’ success will come not only from their technology, but also from their company culture. She says that the “environment of inclusivity” Aleph is creating, including their efforts to bring more women into leadership positions, benefits employees and strengthens their approach to food systems.
Like Recht, Fong also stresses the importance of the values underlying a solution. “It’s based off of values and principles and this idea of inclusivity. When you start with that approach and if you look at our food systems in terms of trying to address health and nutrition for people, rather than around yield and profit, we’d have an entirely different system.”
There are examples of communities grounded in these values that are building more resilient food systems, Fong says. For now they are “beacons” that the world can learn from, but she wants to see a broader transformation take hold.
Fong and Rane Cortez, Global Director of Natural Climate Solutions for The Nature Conservancy, also remind audiences that these approaches are still innovative, even when new technology doesn’t lie at the heart of the solutions.
“Nature is the ultimate technology,” Rane Cortez. “Natural climate solutions…can provide up to one third of the mitigation we need to stabilize the climate.” But unfortunately, she continues, the funding rarely supports these interventions. Citing a recent report from the International Panel on Climate Change, she says that the world needs US$400 billion per year to support these natural climate solutions. Currently, there is just US$0.7 billion available.
What the world needs to understand, Fong says, is what resilience looks like. “What does resilience mean so that you’re not locked into an industrial system that could actually make you less resilient in the long term, but resilient in terms of your health, in terms of sustainability and climate, in terms of economics, especially in terms of local communities.”
Watch the full conversation by clicking HERE.
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