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.
Welcome to COP28!
I’m here in Dubai, U.A.E., for the annual United Nations Climate Change Conference. COP28 formally kicked off last week, and we’re now in the most important stretch of the conference for discussions about food and agriculture.
During this time, the Food Tank newsletter is the place to be! I’ll be in your inbox with reflections, news, and critical updates so you can stay on top of all things COP. Plus, of course, I’ll share my calendar for each day—it’s morning here in Dubai, after all—so you can join me at insightful and inspiring events from wherever you are in the world. Thanks for coming along!
We’re continuing to share critical perspectives on Food Tank’s website, too. I hope you’ll read op-eds on how local food policy creates hope for the climate; why industrial ag must not be the future of the world’s food; and what it will take to truly dive into regenerative agriculture.
At COP28, Food Tank has 30+ events across two dozen locations, featuring more than 150 luminary speakers. We’ve done our best to include as many livestream opportunities as possible for those not on the ground in Dubai. And for those who are here, we’ve made attending our programming extremely open and accessible. We want everyone to be part of our discussions. Your voices are critically needed!
Already, COP28 is off to an amazing start.
Policymakers, experts, scientists, advocates, farmers, young people, and passionate activists from around the world are already putting food systems front-and-center.
Yesterday, discussions centered on the role of youth in driving climate action in the Global South; how financial, scientific, and policy progress can enable aquaculture and blue food systems; and the need to put farmers first.
“Let us unite in our commitments to create a more robust and supportive environment for our smallholder farmers by addressing the immediate need for improved resources, access to capital, (and) risk mitigation through insurance,” said Maness Nkhata, the President of the Farmers Union of Malawi, during a conversation at the Food Systems Pavilion.
At the Food4Climate Pavilion, we saw empowering conversations taking place around food procurement, environmental labeling, and using capital investments to drive food system transformation.
We also saw a robust discussion at the Sustainable Agriculture of the Americas Pavilion, by IICA, on the climate influence of livestock production and cattle farming. Renata Miranda, from Brazil’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, highlighted the importance of scientific data to help us understand the real relationship between cattle farming, climate, and food security.
It’s amazing to see young people making their voices heard on a global scale, too. Jean Sebastian Pedraza Paez is the Steering Committee Chair for Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD), and at the Food and Agriculture Pavilion, he called on international institutions and governments at all levels to include young people as permanent decision-makers.
We need to draw on multi-generational knowledge, from our parents, grandparents, and Indigenous traditions. “When you mix this with the power of science, innovation, and the power of young people, you can make a real difference,” he said.
Yesterday, someone I deeply admire, Million Belay, said something that stuck with me. He’s the General Coordinator for the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa. At a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change event, he said that agroecology has three legs: It’s a “practice,” a “cutting-edge science,” and a “social movement.”
I think that’s a great framework for thinking about a sustainable and just transition for the food system more broadly, too.
Food system transformation is not one-and-done. It’s not a switch we flip. It truly is a practice, a movement; something we work toward by bringing together science and traditional knowledge systems and on-the-ground voices—and hard work.
To know where we’re going, we have to know where we’ve been. A central outcome of COP28—and something that makes this conference unique—will be the Global Stocktake, which Politico called a “report card on where the world stands” regarding the Paris Agreement. That treaty, from 2015, called on countries to limit warming below certain targets and take meaningful action on emissions.
I’m pleased that the COP28 Presidency has been so vocal in putting food systems on the climate agenda. More than 130 world leaders signed The COP28 UAE Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action. (More on that here.)
Leading up to COP28, world leaders have discussed the importance of food systems. Now, they have to demonstrate their commitment by including the urgency of action on food and agriculture in the official Global Stocktake text.
More than 100 organizations, corporations, and institutions from around the globe have signed on to an open letter calling on world leaders not to leave food systems off the table in the final Stocktake text. Signatories to the letter include Food Tank, as well as WWF, The Nature Conservancy, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Nestlé, Unilever, Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU), and many more. (You can read the letter here.)
There are plenty of ways you can take action, too.
Every day at the bottom of this newsletter—including today—we have a variety of news articles, key quotes, and calls to action from our friends and partners.
Food Tank’s official schedule of events kicks off tomorrow, so take a look at our agenda HERE and join us via livestream. And if you’re in Dubai, use THIS FORM to let us know, so we can make sure you’re invited to exclusive complimentary opportunities.
What We’re Thinking About and Reading as COP28 Continues:
- “Global dairy companies join alliance to cut methane” — Reuters reports that, thanks to discussions at COP28, six of the world’s largest dairy companies will start disclosing methane emissions and drafting action plans.
- “Young people’s plea to Cop28: ‘World leaders owe it to future generations’” — via The Guardian, advocates as young as 13 are calling out “the hypocrisy of rich countries failing to fund climate action.”
- “Zero Draft Outcomes-Based Framework” — a recent Regen10 report is worth reading, as it outlines the state of progress toward a more farmer-centric food system.
- “After a fast start, COP28 climate talks now in murky middle of hope, roadblocks” — from the Washington Post, a clear-eyed analysis of where negotiations stand right now on decarbonization, fossil fuels, and climate compensation.
- “Malnutrition In A Warming World: How Climate Change Impacts Nutrition Security in Low- and Middle-Income Countries” — policy recommendations from the Farm Journal Foundation provide a variety of ways to turn current food system conditions into a more secure future.
- “Diving into the Deep End of Regenerative Agriculture” — at Food Tank, Sara Farley of The Rockefeller Foundation outlines how private, public, and philanthropic actors can push regenerative agriculture “from the shallow to the deep end.”
Powerful Quotes from COP28 Discussions:
- “Climate change and malnutrition are alarmingly linked. We must center nutrition at the heart of climate action to ensure the well-being of millions [of] generations to come.” — Sophie Healy-Thow, Youth Leader, SUN Movement Lead Group member
- “Indigenous people, unlike contemporary modern agriculture, nurture and harness biological processes of nature.” — Dhrupad Choudhury, Technical Expert, Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty
- “Farmers are pioneers of adaptation and need to be supported for spreading their climate solutions more widely.” —Felix Sum, farmer and adaptation pioneer working with International Livestock Research Institute in Kenya
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Photo courtesy of Annie Spratt, Unsplash