Science Speaks - Blog by ISAAA

134 Countries Sign COP28 Declaration on Food and Agriculture

By Clement Dionglay
December 7, 2023

Climate change, undeniably one of the world's most serious crises, poses significant threats to the environment, human health, and the global food supply. For years, the issue has hounded many countries that are working hard to find solutions and mitigate the effects of climate change. The scientific consensus is clear: human activities, including agriculture and food production, have been the primary driver of the observed warming trend since the mid-20th century and have already had a profound impact on our planet, with the consequences expected to become increasingly severe in the coming decades.

The year's biggest conference to discuss climate change has been happening in Expo City, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from November 30th and will continue until December 12th, 2023. COP28, the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is the first COP to be held in the Middle East and North Africa region. Likewise, this is the first COP where food and agriculture were given serious attention by world leaders.

The COP28 UAE Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action (the Declaration) was announced on December 1, 2023, during a special session of the World Climate Action Summit (WCAS), led by Indonesia's President Joko Widodo; Giorgia Meloni, Prime Minister of Italy; Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, Prime Minister of Samoa; and United States Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken. The Declaration addresses both global emissions while protecting the lives and livelihoods of farmers living on the frontlines of climate change.

The COP28 Presidency announced that 134 world leaders signed up for the landmark agriculture, food, and climate action declaration to help strengthen food systems, build resilience to climate change, reduce global emissions, and contribute to the global fight against hunger, aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). [Note: at the end of COP28, a total of 152 countries signed the Declaration.] The Declaration – the first of its kind for the COP process - also stresses the need for common action on climate change, which adversely affects a large portion of the world’s population, particularly those living in vulnerable countries and communities.

The 134 signatory countries, including Brazil, China, and the United States, are home to more than 5.7 billion people, with almost 500 million farmers, producing 70 percent of the world's food, and are responsible for 76 percent of all emissions from global food systems or 25 percent of total emissions globally. Funding and partnerships to support food security and food systems innovation while combatting climate change were also announced during the session.

“There is no path to achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and keeping 1.5C within reach, that does not urgently address the interactions between food systems, agriculture, and climate,” H.E. Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment and COP28 Food Systems Lead, said.

She added that countries must put food systems and agriculture at the heart of their climate ambitions, address both global emissions, and protect the lives and livelihoods of farmers living on the front line of climate change. "Today’s commitment from countries around the world will help to build a global food system fit for the future,” she said.

The key announcements made during this important session include:

  • The UAE and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched a USD$200 million partnership for Food Systems, Agriculture Innovation, and Climate Action, focused on agricultural research, scaling agricultural innovations, and funding technical assistance for implementing the Declaration.
  • The UAE will join the CGIAR, a global partnership of international organizations engaged in research about food security, resilience, and climate adaptation.
  • COP28 and a group of partners announced a collaborative effort to offer countries quality technical cooperation and to help deliver on the objectives of the Declaration. The partners behind the Technical Cooperation Collaborative pledged more than USD$200 million in new and newly aligned support, while also committing to increase coordination across their wider portfolios.
  • COP28 UAE, together with the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), supported by the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions, launched the Action Agenda on Regenerative Landscapes. This will see leading food and agriculture organizations join forces to scale regenerative agriculture, transitioning 160 million hectares to regenerative agriculture by 2030, accompanied by USD$2.2 billion in future investment, and engaging 3.6 million farmers worldwide.
  • The High-Level Champions, in collaboration with non-government actors including farmers, Indigenous Peoples, consumers, cities, youth, businesses, financial institutions, philanthropies, and others, launched a Call to Action for Transforming Food Systems for People, Nature, and Climate, in support of the Declaration and to highlight the urgent need to take action on food systems by all actors.

To see a list of the 134 country signatories, click here. For more information on other topics and discussions, visit the COP28 website.

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