Food insecurity has reached critical proportions, exacerbated by the unprecedented challenges posed by climate change hence a call for embarking on sustainable food systems and agriculture. These environmental shifts have consistently posed significant obstacles to food production, resulting in low yields and, in some cases, a complete lack of produce for small-scale farmers and vulnerable communities reliant on agriculture for sustenance.
Recognizing the gravity of this situation, agriculture has become a pivotal topic of discussion at the World Climate Action Summit, convened during COP 28. Highlighting the imperative role of agriculture and food in climate change mitigation, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) took a proactive stance launching the the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action.
This commitment was further underscored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which joined forces in launching a groundbreaking USD 200 million partnership dedicated to Food Systems, Agriculture Innovation, and Climate Action. This collaborative effort emphasizes the global significance of food as a fundamental necessity, prompting the call for “bold and aspirational” actions to revolutionize food and agricultural systems.
Ismahane Elouafi, the Executive Managing Director of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), emphasized that the impacts of climate change on food production are too substantial to be overlooked any longer. To address this, CGIAR has committed USD 4 billion over three years to support transformative initiatives, with a special acknowledgment of donors who have pledged USD 900 million towards these efforts.
Ismahane Elouafi, the Executive Managing Director of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR)
Elouafi also highlighted the technological solutions developed by CGIAR, providing small-scale farmers with the tools, data, and technology essential for supporting their crops and livelihoods. Discussions during the summit revolved around the food systems and agricultural agenda, emphasizing agricultural research, scaling innovations, and funding technical assistance for implementing the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action. This declaration, endorsed on the same day, marks a significant milestone in addressing global food insecurity.
Mariam Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment for the UAE and COP 28’s Food Systems Lead, lauded the declaration as a landmark moment, with support from 134 countries. However, she stressed that its impact would be truly substantial only if research and innovation efforts were significantly scaled up.
In conclusion, the discussions pivoted towards transforming challenges into opportunities through embracing and supporting innovations. Andy Jarvis of the Bezos Earth Fund acknowledged that the current food system is doing little to benefit people and the climate. He emphasized the need for multiple innovative solutions to reimagine the food system, including developing sustainable meat and alternative proteins that align with consumer preferences in terms of cost, taste, and nutritional parity.
In addressing the formidable challenges at hand, this collective effort signals a paradigm shift towards a more sustainable and resilient global food system, offering hope for a future where food security is no longer compromised by the impacts of climate change.