© WWF-US / James Morgan
Food for a stable climate

There is no doubting that food was on the table at COP27. Compared to COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021, when a handful of organisations were pushing the need for food systems transformation to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, food has flown up the climate agenda. 

However, this didn’t necessarily lead to the urgently required action - although several key initiatives were announced by public and private stakeholders, the primary negotiations outcomes have failed to move us significantly forward. For this reason, the ‘success’ of establishing food at COP27 must be couched in caveats – some progress has been made, which provides room for optimism, but time has been lost in the race to transform food systems for climate, nature and people.


Despite the failings of COP27, hope still prevails. In response to stalling negotiations, WWF convened more than 100 organisations, including farmers, youths, NGOs and civil society groups, financiers, businesses, faith groups and more, in less than a week to urge the implementation of food systems solutions. These groups are committed to accelerating the needed action. 

All sectors are lagging behind in the race to limit global warming, but action on food is particularly important given the large proportion of greenhouse gas emissions it generates, the significant role it can play in the solution, and the limited action to date.

​Right now, food systems generate around 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions. We can't phase out food in the same way we can phase out fossil fuels, but food systems can be part of the solution to the climate crisis. It requires systems-based approaches to realise the potential of food systems to help mitigate climate change - piecemeal actions won't create change. Without action across all of food production, consumption, and loss and waste we cannot limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

We need action. The time is now. There is no more time for delays and limited solutions.

Logos Koronivia COP27 food systems approaches 

We are deeply disappointed the coalition of more than 100 organisations that we convened to urge focus on food systems approaches was not listened to.

- Joao Campari, WWF Global Food Practice Leader
Adaptation in AFrican food systems

Food systems in African countries are already experiencing clmate impacts on growing seasons, and the frequency and intensity of dry spells and heavy rainfalls. Effective holistic measures across food systems can help build resilience while providing mitigation benefits, putting the continent on a sustainable development pathway.

Most African countries recognize the urgency of, and potential in, building adaptive food systems, as evidenced by their climate pledges, but rich countries must ramp up international climate finance and support to these countries to achieve these pledges. The Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) under the Paris Agreement and National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) provide a platform to bring all policy priorities together and implement food systems adaptation measures in a holistic manner.

Climate change adaptation in food systems is considered as an important part of contributions of NDCs and NAPs to furthering the Paris Agreement goals, alongside linkages to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This report focuses on the integration of adaptation measures for food systems transformation in the NDCs and NAPs in Africa to identify opportunities for enhancing actions and accelerating progress in the continent.

Read: Scaling and accelerating climate adaptation in food systems in Africa

NDCs for Food - Unlocking and Scaling Climate Solutions in Food Systems

Policymakers must urgently increase the scale and ambition of food-based climate solutions included in national plans if there is to be any hope of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

While many countries mention the agriculture sector in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), very few set targets in relation to other stages of the food system, such as food loss and waste reduction, sustainable diets or food consumption.

Countries are overlooking critical climate solutions. All stakeholders must urgently implement climate solutions across food systems, from farm-to-fork.


Grasslands near Ivohibe

Grasslands, savannahs and rangelands (GSRs) are huge carbon stores, vital global resources for biodiversity, food and freshwater security, and offer many ecosystem services to support climate mitigation and adaptation. High biodiversity GSRs generally have the greatest mitigation and adaptation benefits. Parties to the UNFCCC are therefore urged to:

  • Ensure the protection, sustainable management and restoration of natural GSRs in adaptation plans and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)
  • Protect natural GSRs from land use changes such as inappropriate afforestation and agricultural intensification, which lead to net losses of carbon stocks, biodiversity and other ecosystem services
  • Align UNFCCC actions on GSRs with the CBD and UNCCD, including through National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) and Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) targets. 


Aerial Photo, Fort Peck Bison, Fort Peck Montana, Northern Great Plains, grasslands, prairie, buffalo, Native American, tribal lands

Grasslands, savannahs and rangelands (GSRs) are often perceived as storing little carbon, but their carbon stocks are considerable due to their extent globally. Unlike forests, grasslands store most of their carbon stocks underground, where carbon accumulates in the soil when plants sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

This document provides several case studies to provide context to the state of GSR carbon studies and projects around the world.


Great Food Puzzle

National governments must develop bold and ambitious action plans for food systems transformation to address global hunger, reverse nature loss and achieve a 1.5-degree future. Climate COP27 and Biodiversity COP15 must be used to integrate food into existing agreements or risk failing to fix our broken relationship with the natural world.

Solving the Great Food Puzzle, a WWF science-based platform and report, outlines a framework to accelerate the development and implementation of national plans to transform food production, consumption, loss and waste. Twenty transformation levers that can be applied across all food systems have been identified, with countries grouped by their natural environment, and how they produce and consume food, to assess which levers have most potential for impact in different types of food systems.


Adopting planet-based diets, that are high in human health benefits and low in environmnental impacts, can help countries achieve their climate targets. If there was a globally shift to healthier, more sustainable consumption patterns, food-based greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by at least 30%. Our scientific report and Impact Action Calculator allows national level analysis of GHG emission reductions that could be achieved by national dietary shifts.



 The involvement of women in household food security is not only in the kitchen but is almost fully involved in the management of land for food management in the field of dry land.


Twelve months ago, we were battling to get food systems transformation onto the climate agenda. We made an explicit call for a Food Day to be held at COP27, which community has rallied behind, and the Egyptian COP27 Presidency has responded to. This is a clear signal of what can be achieved when we work together across sectors and geographies to drive a shared goal. On the other hand, when I look back 12 months, I realise that we asked for many of the same things, and implementation is still desperately lacking.

COP27 must be when we come together to make a meaningful and measurable step forward in achieving the goal of staying with the 1.5 degrees limit. 

by Joao Campari, Global Food Practice Leader
 Zaineb Malicha plants a green on her farm, Chemi Chemi, Lake Naivasha, Kenya

Putting food on the COP27 menu

The global food system is the number one contributor to biodiversity loss, deforestation, freshwater pollution and the collapse of marine wildlife, as well as being the second biggest contributor to climate change. It is the missing piece in the climate puzzle.


With it taking place in Africa, there is prime opportunity for African countries to deliver their main message, which is that poorer countries bear the consequences of climate change and food insecurity despite their limited contribution to its causes

by Alice Ruhweza, Director of WWF’s Regional Africa Office and Tanya Steele, Chief Executive at WWF-UK


 Food waste, Dolac, Zagreb

The urgent need for governments to commit to food loss and waste

Of all the nature and climate solutions we debate, reducing food loss and waste is possibly the least contentious. There are so many benefits yet there is not wide scale global adoption of food waste reduction as part of climate commitments. To date, as few as 36 governments have food loss and waste reduction as part of their national climate goals. Why so few?

by Pete Pearson, Global Food Loss and Waste Initiative Lead
 A girl collecting manure in Chitwan National Park Buffer Zone. WWF has introduced bio gas systems into the buffer zone so that villagers can use the collected manure to produce methane gas in order to cook with rather than use firewood. Methane is a clean gas and therefore better for cooking with and better for the environment. Chitwan region, Nepal.

Methane matters to tackle the climate crisis

We have a wildcard that can buy time and help us avoid dangerous tipping points in the climate crisis. This wildcard is methane, a global warming gs that is much more potent at warming the planet than carbon dioxide, and we can all take action based on what we eat.

by Brent Loken, Global Lead Food Scientist
 Farmer pruning a mulberry tree. The mulberry tree leaves grown on the dykes of the fish pond generate food for silk worms, creating an integrated, sustainable system of fish farming and silk production.

Farmers for the future — how transforming food production can help solve the nature and climate crises

If food-based emissions are not slashed, we will potentially cause irreversible change to our climate and biodiversity. And in a hotter, drier world with less nature, there will be a decline in productive land, the length of growing seasons, crop yields and nutritional density of foods. Our food security will be severely threatened.

The good news is food and farmers can be part of the solution., it is possible to produce enough healthy and nutritious food for everyone, within planetary boundaries.

by Joao Campari, Global Food Practice Leader, and Kirtsen Schuijt, CEO WWF-Netherlands


 By focusing on traditional and organic agriculture with premium food commodities that are local, sustainable, fair and healthy, the aim is to preserve ecological balance and local agrobiodiversity, enhance the resilience against climate change and guarantee sustainable development in the Krayan Highlands.

Nature-based Solutions can save the planet, but only if we change our diets too

Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are “win-win” solutions to the climate and biodiversity crises. But implementing NbS alone is not enough. Their success or failure ultimately depends on the extent to which the world transitions to healthier, more sustainable planet-based diets. The connection between NbS and dietary patterns comes down to land. Nature-positive farming methods will sequester more carbon in soils and above-ground biomass and support biodiversity. Yet even these types of NbS will drive an increase in demand for land if trends in food consumption patterns continue.

by Brent Loken, Global Food Lead Scientist



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