The U.N. Climate Change Conference (COP27) demonstrated just how far civil society organizations in the food movement have come, says Brent Loken, Global Food Lead Scientist for WWF. But, he adds, the negotiations among global leaders left much to be desired.
“What we really wanted…was for food to be integrated and addressed in the final decisions that came out of this COP to a much greater degree,” Loken tells Food Tank. “So from a food systems standpoint, I think that this COP really fell short.”
Loken references the failure of negotiators to “deliver a transformative plan for food systems” as one particularly disappointing moment from the Conference. WWF and its partners had hoped that a new agreement would emerge, providing a comprehensive framework to limit the impact of food systems on the climate crisis, but it did not come to fruition.
Loken also worries that too many leaders are already looking ahead to COP28, which will take place in the United Arab Emirates in 2023, as the COP that “saves everybody.” That reliance, combined with the “unclear, ambitious targets” that Loken saw coming out of the previous COP in Glasgow “worries me a bit,” he says.
But Loken believes there are two different tales that describe the outcomes of COP27, and the second is much more positive.
“I believe we accomplished quite a bit,” Loken says about the activities of civil society actors at the Conference. This year’s COP was the first to feature multiple pavilions dedicated to food and agriculture systems. And even outside of these spaces, attendees could easily find conversations about the intersection of food, agriculture, and climate.
“I think on that side of things we did what we set out to do and we were able to achieve our goals,” Loken continues. “Food—and discussions of food—was everywhere, and we should be really proud of that. And we should build on that.”
Listen to the full conversation with Brent Loken on “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg” to hear more about balancing adaptation and mitigation strategies in the face of the climate crisis, the need for greater coordination among civil society stakeholders, and maintaining hope to keep the movement moving forward.
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Photo courtesy of Marc Hastenteufel, Unsplash