A draft text has been passed from the negotiators to the ministers and the text still includes many of the key aspects necessary for a meaningful agreement. Many challenges remain however, and ministers are working on issues such as loss and damage and the ongoing debate over the relationship between developed and developing countries, and the emissions gap between what countries have committed to and what is necessary to prevent catastrophic climate change.
This is the first time agriculture has been included in the COP debate in this manner. It is positive to see that agriculture and food security has been shifted to a more central position in the debate- although it highlights that this sector is at the forefront of climate impact.
Maria Helena-Semedo, the FAO Director General stated that food is the most basic human need- yet 800 million people suffer from chronic hunger everyday. Although there has been great work being done in reducing hunger across the world, climate change threatens to reverse this progress.
If we don’t adapt, reducing emissions alone won’t be enough. If we don’t reduce emissions, we won’t be able to adapt enough. Therefore, there has to be both considerable adaptation and mitigation work.
Poverty, hunger and climate change must be addressed together. And agriculture is a key on doing so. The discussions have highlighted that there must be a multi-strategic process that works on achieving sustainable production systems, sustainable consumption, and the reduction of food waste.
Partnerships are an essential key in developing sustainable production systems. There needs to be a strengthening between local alliances and an inclusion of local stakeholder voices in policy and public discussion. Capacity development of local governments and farming organisations will help to develop solutions to local problems and give participants a sense of ownership.
There needs to be open and honest conversation between all stakeholders and participants in food systems. Everyone has different objectives and perspectives, and finding a shared vision is essential for meaning change and sustainable systems. Knowledge is key for all development and improvement, so conversation must occur. Also, it provides the opportunity to leverage off each others skills and knowledge providing mutual benefit.
A healthy diet for people means a healthy diet for the planet. There needs to be nutritional equity. In Niger if a child is born in a drought year, there is a 50% likelihood they will be stunted.
There needs to be greater consumer awareness of food systems. This includes how food is produced and consumed, and how individual choices do influence the supply chain. By consuming responsibly there will be positive improvement within the system in its entirety. For example, eating local to reduce food miles and carbon footprint, eating healthy fresh food to reduce health ailments, supporting local farmers to help community economy. All these decisions impact upon food availability, access and use.
30% of global food is wasted, and if this is not addressed we will never be able to feed the world. Food waste can occur at many points along the food chain. Whether is at the production end, during distribution and packaging, or in the household. Measures can be put in place to reduce wastage and attitudes to wastage can be change. A greater respect for food and ability to save food will help this cause.
Al Gore concluded his moving presentation yesterday with “We must see across the difficulties. We must look past the challenges. Only then can we achieve such a great moral achievement”.