Negotiations at COP27 fail to deliver transformative plan for food systems, but hope still prevails

Posted on November, 18 2022

  • New mandate for four-year work on agriculture and food security agreed but retains narrow focus
  • Approximately 100 organisations across food, climate and nature sectors come together to chart path forward for implementation of food-based climate solutions

WWF is deeply disappointed that, with an agreement all but formally adopted, the mandate for the successor of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture remains narrowly focused on agricultural production, and not even a workshop could be agreed to recognise the importance of food systems transformation to prevent the most severe impacts of climate change. While transforming agriculture is imperative to ensure food systems are adapted and resilient to climate change, shifting to healthier and more sustainable diets and radically reducing food loss and waste are also critical climate solutions. Climate action requires systemic and integrated approaches to food.

However, actors across food systems have come together to express urgency and willingness to deliver action that will benefit people and planet. Approximately 100 organisations from food, climate and nature sectors, ranging from large multi-nationals to local groups, signed a joint open letter to negotiators and ministers urging inclusion of food systems in the new mandate. The organisations will now explore ways to continue to engage with UNFCCC and deliver food-based climate action.

Joao Campari, Global Food Practice Leader, WWF said:
“Sadly, the new agriculture and food security agreement fails to provide an ambitious framework to limit the impacts of food systems on climate change. We know from IPCC that the only way to keep greenhouse gas emissions within a 1.5 degrees Celsius limit is to take action across the entire food system, including production, consumption and loss and waste. Ignoring these solutions leaves us hurtling towards irreversible damage to our planet. We are deeply disappointed the coalition of approximately 100 organisations that we convened to urge focus on food systems approaches was not listened to.

“However, hope is not lost. With the establishment of a four-year joint work on agriculture and food security, there is still a possibility to increase ambition and take a truly holistic approach in its implementation. We will work with like-minded organisations locally, nationally and regionally to engage with the implementation process and ensure it delivers transformative actions.

“At the same time, food security and building food systems resilience feature prominently in the draft COP27 cover decisions due to be issued by the Egyptian COP27 Presidency at the end of the week. This would be consistent with the G20 Bali Leaders’ Declaration which underscored the need for transformative food systems approaches, and will align non-G20 countries with the major economies in agreeing that we need food-based actions for both mitigation and adaptation.

“The disappointing results of the Koronivia process provide us with impetus as we enter next month’s CBD COP15 in Montreal. We can only halt and reverse nature loss at the scale required by applying food systems transformation alongside traditional conservation approaches. Given food drives 70 percent of biodiversity loss on land and 50 percent in freshwater, it is imperative actions across food systems are included in an ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework. Following the disappointing outcome on Koronivia, we can’t miss a second opportunity to deliver an agreement that can regenerate our planet. Food has been part of the problem but we must ensure it becomes a major part of the solution to the nature and climate crises.”
Glindys Virginia Luciano , YPARD, YOUNGO, commented: “We are disappointed that parties have neglected the importance of food systems. How can we possibly address the food and agricultural crisis if we don’t consider food systems in its totality? We need ambitious climate plans in food and agriculture, we won’t accept anything less. Youth will continue to put pressure, we will continue to follow the process closely, we will be watching and we will continue to do the work that needs to be done.”
Morgan Gillespy, Executive Director, Food and Land Use Coalition, stated: “We can have 1.5C. We can nourish a population of 10 billion. We can secure resilient livelihoods and a just transition for farmers. But without approaching these challenges through a food systems lens, we are blunting our blade. We sincerely hope that future negotiations will place food systems more centrally in the fight to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and will continue to push for a more progressive outcome at next year’s Global Stocktake and COP28.” 
Organisers of the Food Systems Pavilion at COP27 said: “As a community of global food organisations who have united to call on ministers and negotiators to raise the ambition and scope of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture, this is a disappointing moment. References to food systems approaches have been reduced and the original text has been stripped of critical interventions such as nutrition and dietary shifts, adaptation and mitigation workplans and mentions of a follow-up workshop at SB58. However, we are not without hope. Food has moved up the agenda this COP and we will continue to build momentum around holistic food systems approaches to deliver tangible outcomes on the ground for farmers, food producers and rural communities. This means achieving food security and nutrition for all, without compromising the welfare of future generations through harmful economic, social and environmental practices. We have reached consensus across nearly 100 global organisations and will continue to work together to accelerate the transition to more sustainable, equitable and resilient food systems. CBD COP15 is another major milestone on the road to formally recognising food systems as a key part of global climate solutions and our work will continue across fields, forests, land, seas and boardrooms. We will not rest until food systems deliver for people, nature and the climate.”