Highlights from COP28: A Transformative Focus on Agriculture and Climate

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COP28 is the first-ever Conference of the Parties to dedicate a full day to food and agriculture. The food and agriculture sector accounts for about a third of the world’s planet- warming emissions. Given the importance of the agriculture and food systems to the lives and livelihoods of billions of people and the increasing threat to the system’s resilience due to unprecedented adverse climate impacts, its recognized that these systems must be a part of the strategy to fully achieve climate goals. More than 150 world leaders signed the declaration to include farm
and food systems as an integral part of their plans to fight climate change.The summit stressed the importance of having regeneration at the core of new food and agriculture systems to ensure that we’re giving more to nature than we’re taking from it. The new regenerative agriculture system needs to focus on intensifying agricultural production in a sustainable manner that enhances soil health, preserves water, and prevents contaminated water from filling lakes and streams. Also, there is a need for more innovative approaches to boost production and protect biodiversity simultaneously by providing shade and protection for crops and animals while also improving soil health.

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Commission released a list of recommendations on changes to be made to the global food system to meet climate goals. The goal of this roadmap is to successfully feed the growing population of the world while adhering to emissions targets. One of the recommendations in this roadmap was to shift meat consumption to favor lower-impact animals.
The recommendation list included increased adoption of precision agriculture technologies and addressing obstacles to land tenure, with a special focus on women and Indigenous peoples.

Launch of the Sharm El-Sheikh Support Programme

The COP28 UAE Presidency, FAO, the World Bank, CGIAR, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) announced the creation of the Agrifood Sharm El-Sheikh Support Program, a three-year program to facilitate dialogue and knowledge-sharing among global
and regional policymakers.

Launch of the Alliance of Champions for Food Systems Transformation
By showcasing leadership on food systems transformation, the Alliance countries will inspire others to go further, raising the ceiling of ambition and shifting perceptions of what is possible. The program aims to help countries unlock finance and support for farmers, food producers, small agribusinesses, and local communities and to drive consensus within the UNFCCC process.

FAO and Norway announce new phase of the EAF-Nansen Programme
FAO and the government of Norway announced a new five-year phase of the EAF-Nansen Programme at COP28. From 2024 to 2028, the EAF-Nansen Programme will intensify efforts to improve food and nutrition security in partner countries, placing a stronger focus on strengthening fisheries management in response to the impacts of climate change. The Programme is a partnership between FAO, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) in Norway, regional fisheries organizations, and 32 partner countries in Africa and the Bay of Bengal, dating back to 1975.

FAO Launches Global Roadmap Process to eradicate hunger within 1.5°C limits
Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) initiated the process for the development of a global roadmap aimed at eliminating hunger and all forms of malnutrition without exceeding the 1.5°C threshold set by the Paris Agreement. the Global Roadmap for Achieving Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG2) without Breaching the 1.5°C Threshold outlines a comprehensive strategy spanning the next three years that encompasses a diverse portfolio of 120 actions across ten distinct domains including clean energy, crops, fisheries, and aquaculture, food loss and waste, forests and wetlands, healthy diets, livestock, soil and water, and data and inclusive policies.

Launch of the Partnership on Water-Resilient Food Systems
The two-year partnership on building water-resilient food systems was launched under the UNFCCC Climate Resilient Food Systems (CRFS) Alliance. It aims to support the countries and non-state actors in delivering on commitments regarding integrated water and food system
management, especially for Nationally Determined Contributors (NDCs) and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) for COP30.

Aim4Climate announces a doubling of investments
The US- and UAE-led Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4C) initiative announced an aggregation of increased investments by partners across government and innovation sprints totaling USD 17 billion since the launch at COP 26, and USD 3.4 billion since the AIM4Climate Summit in May 2023. AIM4Climate is an advocacy and coordination platform for increased investment in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation.

Launch of the COP28 Agriculture, Food, and Climate National Action Toolkit
UAE COP28 Presidency task force developed guidance for policymakers to incorporate actions on food production, consumption, and loss and waste in NDCs and NAPs. The toolkit will accelerate and align national efforts on climate action and food and agriculture system transformation by (1) providing a summary of priority actions, (2) giving an overview of good examples of NDCs and NAPs in how they integrate agriculture and food system measures, and (3) providing an overview of existing initiatives, platforms, and tools that can help governments in developing and implementing agriculture and food system policy measures as part of their NDCs and NAPs.

New FAO report maps pathways toward lower livestock emissions
The new report by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Pathways towards lower emissions – A global assessment of the greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation options from livestock agrifood system, maps pathways towards lower livestock emissions. The report aims to enable the livestock sector to contribute its share to the efforts to limit the global temperature increase to well below 2 degrees Celsius. Without interventions and productivity gains, meeting increased demand is likely to bring global livestock emissions to nearly 9.1 GtCO2eq by 2050.

Gates Foundation and UAE commit USD 200 million for agricultural innovation
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a joint commitment with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) totaling $200 million to accelerate agricultural innovations that will help smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia build resilience and adapt to climate change. These funds will support efforts to address immediate and long-term climate-related threats to food security and nutrition. These funds will be directed to the CGIAR agriculture research consortium and AIM4Scale, a climate adaptation initiative to be launched by the UAE.

Launch of the Financing the Future of Food (F3) Initiative
The UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MoCCAE) announced the ‘Financing the Future of Food (F3)’ initiative to explore innovative bond structures supported by the World Bank Treasury that will help de-risk private sector capital and transform food and agricultural systems in the developing countries.

Launch of the COP28 Action Agenda on Regenerative Landscapes
Over 25 leading food and agriculture organizations join forces to scale regenerative agriculture, partnering with 3.6 million farmers to accelerate the transition over 160 million hectares, with an initial investment of US$2.2 billion, through the COP28 Action Agenda on Regenerative Landscapes. COP30 will represent a key milestone, where participants will be required to show progress across five key impact areas – soil health, GHG emissions, biodiversity, water, and farmer livelihoods.

Launch of Enteric Fermentation R&D Accelerator
Bezos Earth Fund, in partnership with Methane Hub, CIFF, and Quadrature Climate Foundation, Danone announced the $250 million Enteric Fermentation R&D Accelerator, to accelerate methane mitigation in livestock production. Countries commit USD 890 million support to CGIAR’s new investment case The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) has received commitments from countries totaling more than USD 890 million, in support of CGIAR’s new investment case. With the support, CGIAR will expand its work supporting smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries to shape more resilient, sustainable, and equitable food systems, reduce emissions from farming, and boost access to nutritious, healthy diets.

COP28 UAE Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action
The COP 28 Presidency announced that over 130 countries – representing over 5.7 billion people, 70 percent of the food consumed, nearly 500 million farmers, and 76 percent of total emissions from the global food system – have signed up to the leaders-level ‘COP28 UAE Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action.’ The declaration is supported by the Call to Action for Transforming Food Systems for People, Nature, and Climate, led by the High-Level Champions and with over 150 non-Party stakeholders, which highlights to reduce absolute GHG emissions from food systems (including emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide), and transitioning away from fossil fuel use, while also to support frontline food systems actors to adapt and build resilience to climate risks.

Publication of The Future of Africa’s Sustainable Cities: Why Clean Cooking Matters
The report “The Future of Africa’s Sustainable Cities: Why Clean Cooking Matters,” published by the Clean Cooking Coalition and ICLEI Africa highlights the critical role that clean cooking must play in ensuring sustainable and equitable urban growth, with a particular focus on the fast- growing cities of sub-Saharan Africa.

While there is much work ahead to align agriculture and food systems with evolving climatic demands, engaging in a substantive global discourse and demonstrating a dedicated commitment to integrating food and agriculture into our strategy for achieving climate goals suggests that we are heading in the right direction.