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Food systems and agriculture at the heart of the UAE’s COP Presidency…

To kick off 2024, I thought it would be interesting to have a close look at the outcomes of the COP28 held in December 2023 in Dubai, as food systems and agriculture were a central pillar of a COP for the first time. Thus, it is central to understand, what progress was made to increase the sustainability of the food systems. And what role shall Food businesses play in providing answers to the risk of climate change?


In a nutshell, the COP28 announced the launch of the first-ever Global Stock Take (GST), which is calling to “transition away” from fossil fuels. In addition to the conclusion of the GST, the following key priorities of the Climate agenda were defined:

1.     Deep, rapid, and sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions by tripling the global capacity of renewable energy and doubling energy efficiency.

2.     Reaching near-zero global methane emissions by 2030.

3.     Phasing out inefficient subsidies for fossil fuels.

As previously mentioned, it is crucial to emphasize that food systems were at the core part of the climate action agenda with the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action. The two main outcomes and their consequences are as follows.


First, 134 countries (representing 70% of the world’s land) committed to including emissions from agriculture and farming into their national climate action plans. This means that investments and demand for sustainably produced and low-emission agricultural commodities will potentially increase. This is a key transition toward a new paradigm, as defined by Borge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum.


“We need to produce enough food for the global population, but our aim is also to decouple growth in agriculture and food from harming the environment.” Borge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum


Second, the interdependence between the climate and nature agendas was recognized, since the seven targets defined as part of a Global Goal on Adaptation by 2030 include climate-positive approaches in food and water production and use. Besides, specific indicators have been set out to measure national contributions to the development of climate-resilient food and agricultural production, supply, and distribution of food.


The expectations of the global community were very high, and disappointments can be heard. As the UAE Consensus is not binding, the main question is how these commitments will be translated into policy. However, the conference outcomes reflect a major step forward in stimulating the transition to sustainable, resilient food systems from my perspective. First, it was recognized that transforming food systems is critical to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. Second, a more holistic approach to the problem is emerging in the debate to tackle climate change and support sustainable development. Finally, there is a growing concern about policies that support production at all costs.

This is on this positive note that I would like to start 2024.

Happy New Year !!!!

Bonne année!!!!

Frohes neues Jahr!!!

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1 Comment

Jan 08

Thanks to your perspective of sustainable food systems you emphasise an important aspect which I had missed in other summary articles about COP28: "134 countries (representing 70% of the world’s land) committed to including emissions from agriculture and farming into their national climate action plans". That's encouraging, it will facilitate boundary-crossing solutions among the varied stakeholder groups. And last but not least, if you can't measure it, (often) you can't manage it. That said, it's also a chance for the farming community to position themselves as carbon-positive, given that they increasingly apply a regenerative approach.

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