134 countries sign declaration to address global emissions, protect farmer lives

Dubai: The COP28 Presidency on Friday announced that 134 world leaders have signed up to its landmark agriculture, food and climate action declaration. Also announced was the mobilisation of more than $2.5 billion in funding to support food security while combatting climate change and a new partnership between the UAE and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for food systems innovation in the fact of climate change.

The ‘COP28 UAE Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action’ (the Declaration) was announced at a special session of the World Climate Action Summit (WCAS), led by Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni; Fiame Naomi Mataafa, Prime Minister of Samoa and Anthony J. Blinken, Secretary of State for the US. The Declaration addresses both global emissions while protecting the lives and livelihoods of farmers who live on the frontlines of climate change.

“There is no path to achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and keeping 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach, that does not urgently address the interactions between food systems, agriculture, and climate,” Mariam Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment and COP28 Food Systems Lead, said. “Countries must put food systems and agriculture at the heart of their climate ambitions, addressing both global emissions and protecting the lives and livelihoods of farmers living on the frontline of climate change. Today’s commitment from countries around the world will help to build a global food system fit for the future,” she added.

The 134 signatory countries to the Declaration are home to over 5.7 billion people and almost 500 million farmers, produce 70 per cent of the food, and are responsible for 76 percent all emissions from global food systems or 25 per cent of total emissions globally.

Endorsement of the Declaration will help in strengthening food systems, building resilience to climate change, reducing global emissions, and contributing to the global fight against hunger, aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Declaration — the first of its kind for the COP process — 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. “Today signals a turning point, embedding sustainable agriculture and food systems as critical components in both dealing with climate change and building food systems fit for the future. Together we will deliver lasting change for families, farmers and the future,” said Almheiri.

While food systems are vital for meeting societal needs and enabling adaptation to climate impacts, they are also responsible for as much as a third of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Many smallholder farmers in low-and middle-income countries are also facing heightened vulnerability to climate change.

Food security and climate change are interlinked and global agrifood systems are the climate solution, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, told heads of state and government.

“Implementation of the Emirates Declaration guided by the FAO Roadmap for achieving SDG2 while maintaining 1.5 degrees Celsius, are key instruments for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets under the Four Betters, leaving no one behind,” he said.

Responding to the Declaration, Kelly Dent, World Animal Protection’s Director of External Engagement, said: “This important declaration shows the vast majority of world leaders at COP28 agree food systems and agriculture need to be at the centre of these critical climate talks, which World Animal Protection has been advocating for many years.

“We regret, however, world leaders have not turned the spotlight on factory farming — one of the major causes of our warming climate.

“A key pathway to sustainable food production is by tackling factory farming and its massive greenhouse gas emissions, which our recently released report estimates at 11 per cent of overall emissions.”

IANS

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