Global Leaders Unite for Revolutionary Sustainable Agriculture, Food Systems at COP28
During the second day of COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, over 130 world leaders came together to endorse the groundbreaking ‘Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems’, bringing a vital focus on food to the forefront of climate talks.
After a year of negotiations facilitated by the COP28 Presidency and driven by the advocacy of farmer groups and civil society organizations (CSOs) from Africa, this unprecedented declaration marks a turning point in addressing the intersection of food systems and climate change.
The timing of this declaration aligns with the recent call for ambitious commitments to enhance security at COP28 by African Civil Society Organizations. In their document titled “African Civil Society Common Position Paper on Climate Adaptation and Loss & Damage for COP28,” the CSOs urged the presidency to lead efforts in establishing resilient and equitable food and agriculture systems.
Furthermore, the paper emphasized the necessity of transitioning to farmer-led, rights-based food and agriculture models that promote gender equity, agroecology, and uphold the rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Across many African nations, food encompasses sociocultural, economic, political, and security dimensions, positioning it at the core of social stability, sustainability, and development. However, the unrelenting impacts of climate change have severely compromised the resilience of agriculture and food systems, jeopardizing the ability of vulnerable communities to produce and access food amidst escalating challenges related to hunger, malnutrition, and economic strains.
Recent studies have revealed alarming statistics, with an estimated 149 million Africans facing acute food insecurity. This represents an increase of 12 million individuals compared to the previous year, with 82 percent – equivalent to 122 million people – located in conflict-affected countries. These findings underscore the continued significance of conflict as the primary driver of Africa’s ongoing food crisis.
Additionally, food experts and various interest groups are urging multilateral financial institutions to prioritize shifting finance towards sustainable food systems and advocating for policy reforms in agriculture as part of a just transition.
Amy G Thorp from Power Shift Africa underlined the urgency of transforming and adapting food and agriculture systems to the climate crisis while emphasizing the importance of increasing access to finance and technical support for farmers. She stressed the value of integrating local and Indigenous knowledge to make food systems more inclusive and resilient.
Lazarus Wanzala, a food and climate advisor at SDG2 Advocacy Hub, highlighted the need for concrete plans and resources, particularly financial support, to enable smallholder producers to adapt and emphasized the importance of action beyond verbal commitments.
Mwandwe Chileshe, the Director for Food Security, Agriculture and Nutrition at Global Citizen, commended the declaration as a significant step forward, emphasizing the importance of translating ambition into tangible action to fulfill commitments, especially in providing resources for smallholder farmers in Africa.
Furthermore, Leonida Odongo, a food campaigner at Haki Nawiri, emphasized the urgency of establishing a sustainable, people-centered food system that respects food producers and protects nature amidst the climate crisis.
The endorsement of the ‘Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems’ signifies a pivotal moment in advancing sustainable food systems and climate resilience, as world leaders demonstrate their commitment to address vital issues in agriculture and food security.