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Yesterday at COP27, we focused on a topic too often ignored in climate conversations: gender equality and women empowerment.
Women make up more than half of the world’s population and nearly half of its farmers, yet their contributions to the food system remain largely ignored. Women typically receive a fraction of land, capital, training, and other resources compared to men.
“If we want to increase the number of women leaders in the food and agriculture sector and push toward inclusiveness, we need to embrace female leadership,” says Dr. Lee Recht, Vice President of Sustainability at Aleph Farms.
COP27 is an important opportunity to highlight and empower those already working on the ground—including women. But our conversations at the Food4Climate Pavilion yesterday reminded us that we also need to push for critical changes at the systems level.
“The industrial, capitalist food system has created more food on planet Earth than ever before, and there are more people going hungry than ever before,” says Dr. Rupa Marya, Physician and Author of Inflamed. “If we’re in a place of systems collapse, we need systems transformation.”
For Eirini Pitsilidi, Global Head of Food Systems at Compassion for World Farming, this means returning to nature.
“We have been segregating food from nature for the last 60, 70 years, and now it’s time to connect them again and diversify them again,” says Pitsilidi.
And Chief Caleen Sisk, Spiritual Leader and Hereditary Chief, Winnemem Wintu Tribe, emphasized the need for balance.
“Let’s get back in the balance, because if we’re out of balance, we all know things will be bad for somebody, somewhere, and it might be us,” says Chief Sisk. (Watch the sessions’ replays here.)
We need to listen to women in the food system, and more importantly, we need to give women money and resources for the work they’re already doing.
Here are some other important takeaways from COP27 negotiations and discussions:
Disputes about loss and damage at the COP continue. US Special Envoy for Climate Change John Kerry has said anything involving compensation and liability “is just not happening,” but developing nations are pushing for a fund to help countries hit by climate disasters. Jamaica, for example, is lobbying for loss and damage donations from developed countries. (Read more on Bloomberg.)
Africa’s gas reserves have become another major topic at COP27, although not formally on its agenda. The financial think tank Carbon Tracker released a report yesterday that found that expanding oil and gas exports would threaten the economic stability of many African countries. Instead, boosting solar power is a better long-term investment. (Read more on The Guardian.)
Meanwhile, world leaders are struggling to agree on rules for global trading in carbon offset credits. While last year’s COP26 produced broad principles to govern these markets, technical details were pushed to COP27—and now, it looks like these decisions will be pushed into 2023. (Read more on Reuters.)
And yesterday, 30 retailers including H&M, Kering, and Ben & Jerry’s announced that they will purchase more than half a million tonnes of low-carbon alternative fiber for clothing and packaging. The collaborative effort aims to help reduce global emissions from supply chains. (Read the full announcement here.)
We have a few more days of programming here in Egypt with our incredible partners. Our live agenda is available here, and as always, we would love for you to connect with us in person at #FoodCOP27.
I hope these letters, articles, and panel discussions not only inform but inspire you wherever you are in the world. While the climate crisis presents enormous challenges, the conversations this past week continue to show me that there are amazing solutions already at work.
What I’m Thinking About as COP27 Negotiations Continue:
- “We know that the voices of the women on the front lines are not sufficiently heard in the grand halls and behind the closed doors where the big decisions are made, including at the ongoing COP27 climate change conference,” says Sophie Rigg, Senior Climate and Resilience Adviser at ActionAid UK. (Read Rigg’s op-ed in Al Jazeera.)
- Research shows that women and girls face increased violence in areas affected by climate-related disasters, and they are underserved when it comes to investment and aid. But “including women and girls is also vital to solving the problem,” The Guardian reports.
Powerful Quotes from Today’s Discussions:
- “Farmers need to be respected and that is the only way you will see a systems-scale transition.” — Satya S. Tripathi, Secretary-General, the Global Alliance for a Sustainable Planet
- “I honestly believe our best days aren’t behind us, they’re ahead of us.” — Matte Wilson, Director, Sicangu Food Sovereignty Initiative (SFSI)
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Photo courtesy of Firdaus Roslan, Unsplash