COP27 was declared as the first “COP on food”. Did he deliver?

This year’s climate summit was the first COP to host more than 200 food-focused events, four pavilions and a full day dedicated to agriculture and adaptation, recognizing that while food systems are victims of climate change, they contribute a huge third. of greenhouse gas emissions, with food and livestock production, fertilizer use, deforestation, transport and food waste as the main drivers.

And when the COP27 text (known as the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan) was finally agreed on 20 November, food was – for the first time – formally included, through the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA ), which was established in 2017 to advance discussions on the role of agriculture in the annual climate talks. (The goal is to eventually have some “coherence of food policies … within decision-making forums.”)

Despite accounting for around 33% of emissions, food systems as a whole receive a tiny 3% of public climate finance, and only 1.7% of climate finance goes to small-scale farmers in developing countries.

At COP27, grassroots advocates urged negotiators to recognize not only the threats to food and agriculture, but also that certain food systems are a treasure trove of climate solutions. “Family farmers play a key role in adaptation and mitigation,” Ma said. Estrella Penunia-Banzuela, Secretary General, Asian Farmers Association for Sustainable Rural Development (AFA).

“We can phase out fossil fuels, but we can’t phase out food, so we need to transform food systems,” said João Campari, WWF’s global food practice leader.

Ahead of the COP, AFA, along with other groups representing 350 million small producers and family farmers worldwide, issued an open letter urging leaders to move away from fossil fuel-based industrial agriculture and leave their “ catch up… more sustainable food production, including agroecological practices.”

“The experience we have accumulated over generations and the conclusion of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is that diversity is the key to food security. Growing a wider variety of local crops, mixing crops, raising livestock, forestry and fishing, reducing chemical inputs and building strong links with local markets build resilience,” they wrote.

Faith leaders also strongly advocated for a more holistic approach to food systems to achieve climate goals. Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, Archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, called for a paradigm shift towards “integral ecology”; Archbishop Nicolas Thévenin, Apostolic Nuncio to Egypt and Deputy Head of the Holy See delegation to COP27, emphasized the importance of supporting traditional and diversified cultivation practices.

The COP’s final text, which, in an eleventh-hour breakthrough, included an agreement to establish a new loss and damage fund, recognized the “fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger”. However, to the dismay of many food and farming advocates, solutions proposed by small farmers – such as agroecology – were deleted from the text.

Oliver Camp, Senior Associate for Nature Positive Actions for Healthy Diets at the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) appointed Koronivia’s text ‘disappointing’, ‘reductive’ and ‘ordinary’. The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) issued a statement expressing “dismay” that negotiators did not broaden Koronivia’s mandate to fully address “sustainable food systems” and omitted small-scale farmers’ request for funding for climate adaptation. . In most cases, the summit failed to establish a framework for a true transformation of our food systems.

Attendees were quick to point out one possible reason: The number of delegates representing Big Ag has doubled since last year at the UN climate change talks.

“[COP27] continues to support a large-scale extractive model of industrial agriculture,” said Lim Li Ching, senior researcher at Third World Network, denouncing the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate initiative, launched by the United States and the United Arab Emirates to increase investment in “agricultural innovation and climate-smart food systems,” as a historic polluter and oil producer’s effort to “hijack climate action.”

Critics of Big Ag say agribusiness has little incentive to upend the status quo. The four biggest grain companies recently posted record profits, while meat sellers’ profits rose 300% during the pandemic, they point out. At COP27, fertilizer majors such as Syngenta and Yara International were promised additional funding to expand their programs.

Now, the expansion of carbon markets and offsets in land and agriculture is another threat, say grassroots food sovereignty groups like the ETC Group and La Via Campesina, and think tanks like the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. They have long labeled unregulated carbon offsets a “false solution” that benefits corporate interests rather than small-scale producers, and have gone so far as to describe it as a textbook example of climate colonialism.

Summarizing the results of COP27, GAIN’s Oliver Camp shared on Twitter that “this may be a case of losing the battle but winning the war.”

“Koronivia is not the be-all and end-all. Nor the final text,” he wrote.

Others, such as Matt Adam Williams of the UK’s Energy and Climate Information Unit (ECIU) agree. “A COP is not only about the texts and negotiations that arise in this case. It’s about creating momentum,” he said.

For the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, a solid next step towards attracting more climate finance for transforming food systems would be for countries to include food system financing needs in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and ensure that their food policies and domestic agricultural are in accordance with in accordance with their climate objectives.

The Alliance estimates that the transition to sustainable and climate-resilient food systems will need $300 billion to $350 billion per year by 2030. This kind of funding is eminently achievable, as one speaker pointed out from their side event, when you consider that Apple Inc. No more . generated $365 billion in revenue by 2021, and global agricultural subsidies currently stand at around $611 billion each year, much of which reinforces destructive effects on climate, biodiversity, health and resilience.

Although smallholder farmers’ demands were rejected at COP27, grassroots groups will continue to build on the momentum created at the summit, pushing for the defunding of industrial agriculture and investment in agroecology as a climate solution. “Farmers have the solutions, but they need maximum and direct support to scale them up,” Ma told AFA. Estrella Penunia-Banzuela.

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