Food Tank’s Dispatch from the U.N. Climate Change Conference is a special newsletter series running daily during COP28. To make sure it lands straight in your inbox and to be among the first to receive it, subscribe to Food Tank’s newsletter now by clicking here.
Good morning from COP28 in Dubai!
Yesterday was a rest day here at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, but things are back in full swing today.
Food Tank’s official programming kicks off today, too! We have five events today alone (including breakfast, lunch and dinner) at COP28, featuring more than 50+ important speakers. Most of these events will also be live-streamed (scroll down for more details!). Take a look at our agenda HERE. And if you’re here in Dubai, come say hello!
The first half of COP28 was marked by overarching promises and big action items. As we talked about yesterday, world leaders have given plenty of statements in support of food’s role in the Global Stocktake and other agreements.
But now, in the second half of COP28, it’s about the nuts and bolts. The follow-through from those leaders on food action has stalled, which is unacceptable.
“It’s time for adults to behave like adults and get the job done,” U.S. Special Envoy John Kerry told the Washington Post.
From my perspective, this means two things:
1. Wealthy countries and big corporations need to pay up for the impacts they’ve had on the climate—which, as we know, fall disproportionately on developing nations; and 2. We need to continue to break down the harmful barriers and silos between sectors so money flows where it can have the most impact.
Let’s start with some good news: COP28 is a top-tier opportunity to forge and strengthen those cross-silo partnerships and bring people to the table.
In the months leading up to COP28, a petition by the Global People’s Caravan for Food, Land and Climate Justice has circulated among small farming communities, agricultural workers, Indigenous groups, and other rural advocates. The result is a call, from 100+ organizations across 26 countries, for a radical transformation to the food system that prioritizes genuine economic participation over false climate solutions that give profits back to corporations.
“Rural peoples have lost the most, and stand to lose the most, from the climate crisis. Small farmers, not big corporations, must be at the center of climate action,” said Wali Hader, from the Pakistan organization Roots for Equity, a signatory to the petition.
I applaud a variety of new collaborative initiatives that are bringing people together to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak. The First Movers Coalition for Food, via the World Economic Forum, plans to create a low-carbon procurement commitment with a US$10–20 billion value. The Green Growth Institute established a US$10 billion public-private partnership in Africa and the Middle East. The Soil Carbon Industry Alliance brings together 28 businesses and organizations toward measuring and financing soil carbon sequestration.
The path we’re headed down is one where a worsening climate and increasing geopolitical conflict are locked in a cycle—a downward spiral that makes the whole world more fragile and less resilient. Across the world, we’re seeing rising tensions that result in tragic losses of life.
At COP28, more than 100 countries and humanitarian organizations have agreed to pledges that prioritize the adoption of climate programs that do not spark these tensions. Among other interventions, these commitments direct funding to localized efforts to bring stakeholders to the table for de-escalation via climate.
It’s time for corporations, big governments, and the philanthropic sector to step up in even bigger ways.
On day one of COP28, countries agreed to a “loss and damage fund,” through which some of these higher-polluting countries would give financial support for irreversible climate damage faced by developing nations. But so far, only a shocking 0.2 percent of the total need has been met. Some of the world’s highest emitters, including the U.S., have pledged much less than their fair share.
Let’s look at the numbers. Transitioning the global food system toward more regenerative and agroecological approaches would cost somewhere around US$250–430 billion per year—a high number, yes, but it’s less than 5 percent of the hidden costs of global food and ag systems. This is why True-Cost Accounting practices are so important to the context of food system change!
In a recent call to action, 25 leading philanthropic organizations noted that the current total of public, private, and philanthropic investments in regenerative agroecology are about US$44 billion a year. To bridge that gap, these organizations called for a tenfold increase in funding toward some of these urgent challenges. The effort is backed by the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, and I hope we see the money.
Our friends at ReFED have also outlined a new roadmap for philanthropic, governmental, and private-sector action on reducing food loss and waste, which has a significant ripple effect across the entire food system.
“Food waste remains an under-funded opportunity, making this roadmap a significant milestone in what we consider possible in transforming our food systems to solve food loss and waste,” says Ida Posner of the Posner Foundation.
For more on building bridges, if you’re in Dubai, join our friends at the Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU) for “Enhancing Food and Nature Linkages for Climate Action” tomorrow (Saturday, Dec. 9) in the accessible green zone!
And we cannot afford to forget that young people are set to inherit a food system that’s deeply broken and a climate that’s becoming irreparably damaged.
That’s why today’s official theme, “Youth, Children, Education, and Skills,” is so important.
“Every year of my life there has been a COP,” says Vanessa Nakate, a 12-year-old Ugandan climate justice advocate and Unicef goodwill ambassador. “And every year world leaders have failed to acknowledge the special needs and vulnerabilities of children in the climate crisis.”
“We’re here to call on world leaders to make decisions at COP that have a real impact on children’s lives,” says Lova Renee, a 13-year-old youth activist from Madagascar.
It’s on all of us adults, as John Kerry reminded us, to invest in those who have to deal with the consequences of our actions.
To governments, to corporations, to philanthropists: Don’t let young people down.
Add These Events to Your Calendar:
9:00AM–10:00AM @ the Sustainable Agriculture of the Americas Pavilion facilitated by IICA: Daily progress recap and live interview series, in partnership with Producers Trust and the Forum for Farmers and Food Security. Breakfast, coffee, networking 9–9:30; briefing 9:30–10. LIVESTREAM HERE!
Speakers include: Eric Mittenthal, Chief Strategy Officer, North American Meat Institute
11:00AM–12:15PM @ Food Systems Pavilion: Unlocking Action: Policy Responses to Reduce Food Loss and Waste in partnership with the Global Foodbanking Network. LIVESTREAM HERE!
Speakers include: Shenggen Fan, China Agricultural University; Christy Loper, Robertson Foundation; Ana Catalina Suarez Pena, GFN; Craig Hanson, World Resources Institute; Mariana Jiménez, BAMX; Fabrice Salamanca, Danone
1:00PM–2:00PM @ Future Economy Forum Pavilion: Climate Journalist, Food Producer and High-Level Stakeholder Immersive Discussion, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and the Action on Food Hub
Speakers include: Daphne Ewing-Chow, Forbes; Aryn Baker, TIME; Rod Oram, Newsroom; Manoel Lemos, Farm Maringa in Brazil; Christine Nabwami, Ugandan small-scale farmer; Hannah Heimbuch, US Fisher; Vijay Kumar Thallam, Rythu Sadhikara Samstha; Chris Adamo, Danone; Helmy Abouleish, SEKEM
3:30PM–4:10PM @ Agri-Food Systems Summit hosted by Climate Action, Madinat Jumeirah Conference Centre: Health is Wealth: Prioritizing the Consumer.
Speakers include: Dr. Namukolo Covic, CGIAR; Bruce Friedrich, The Good Food Institute; Adele Jones, Sustainable Food Trust; Dr. Sourav Roy, Centre for Big Synergy; Afshan Khan, UN Assistant Secretary-General / The Scaling Up Nutrition Movement
7:00PM–10:00PM @ 21 Grams Restaurant: Private dinner, talks, and live entertainment, in partnership with Pegasus Capital, Producers Trust, Unilever and the Forum for Farmers and Food Security. Request invitation HERE.
Speakers include: Humaid Saeed Al Remeithi, Farm2Table; Dorothy Shaver, Unilever; Olowo-n’djo Tchala, AYEYA; Keith Agoada, Producers’ Trust; Craig Cogut, Pegasus Capital
*please note all listed times are in Dubai local time!
What We’re Thinking About and Reading as COP28 Continues:
- “Accelerating Action And Opening Opportunities: A Closer Integration Of Climate And Nutrition” — this report from the Initiative on Climate Action and Nutrition (I-CAN) and GAIN gives results of an important baseline assessment on indicators discussed last year, at COP27
- “Transforming food systems in Brazil tackles deforestation, food insecurity and inequalities” — Reuters reports on the state of industrial and family-run ag in Brazil (where COP30 will be held in a few years)
- “Climate change: How is my country doing on tackling it?” — this great interactive BBC tool lets you see exactly where your country stands on its climate pledges. Hold your elected officials accountable!
- “Cultivating Change: Accelerating and Scaling Agroecology and Regenerative Approaches” — this Global Alliance for the Future of Food report outlines philanthropic organizations’ vision for change and calls-to-action
- “The Global Tipping Points Report” — a fascinating and wide-reaching project launched just this week at COP28 focusing on environmental thresholds and trigger points. Led by Professor Tim Lenton from the University of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute with the support of more than 200 researchers from over 90 organizations in 26 countries
Powerful Quotes from COP28 Discussions:
- “The science is clear that we will not achieve any of the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement without more ambitious, comprehensive, and equitable climate action on food.” — Joao Campari, Global Food Practice Leader, WWF
- “We have the solutions and we have the money to make climate change end. What’s missing is the political will to make that happen.” — Manal Bidar, Moroccan youth and climate action activist
- “The damaging impacts that food loss and waste have on us all—the contribution to climate change, the effect on our household budgets and incomes, and the waste of land and water—mean that it is essential that we all take action.” — Dr. Liz Goodwin, Senior Fellow Food Loss and Waste at the World Resources Institute
Concrete Ways to Take Action:
Become an educated advocate:
- via The Nature Conservancy: “AS A GLOBAL SOCIETY, WE MUST: Phase out fossil fuels. Build climate-resilient societies. Invest in climate solutions.” Learn how to talk about climate change with the Nature Conservancy’s Guide.
- via GAIN Alliance: “Shifting consumption and reducing food loss & waste (FLW) are critical action areas for both the climate and the goal of affordable, healthy, sustainable food for all.” Learn more about GAIN’s Transforming Urban-Rural Food Systems (TURFS) Consortium HERE.
Donors, step up:
- via ReFED: “’Reducing Food Loss and Waste—A Roadmap for Philanthropy’ shows how governments, philanthropy, and the private sector can take a big bite out of emissions while improving food security, nutrition, incomes, and the environment. We call on fellow donors to work with us to catalyze these solutions,” said Marilia Bezerra, Chief Programmes Officer at the IKEA Foundation.
Make your voice heard online:
- via UN Environment Programme: The climate crisis is a real & undeniable threat to humanity. The effects are already visible & will be catastrophic unless countries take urgent #ClimateAction. #COP28 provides an opportunity to finally #ActNow & speak up for a better future for all.
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Photo courtesy of B Udaykiran, Unsplash