At COP26, the role in the fight against climate change of agriculture and food systems, which include the production, transport and consumption of food, was also discussed in recent days. Many aim at finding solutions to obtain more resilient agri-food systems that can guarantee food and economic security for all, with a reduction in carbon emissions and without loss of biodiversity.
Agriculture is responsible for one third of the world’s total carbon emissions. A third of all food produced in the world goes wasted every year worldwide; the same quantity that is produced by small farmers who are the most affected by climate change. But at the same time, the agricultural sector plays an important role in food security and biodiversity conservation. For this reason, many international and intergovernmental organizations present at COP26, such as FAO and the World Food Programme, have stressed that agri-food systems can and must be part of the solution against climate change. The fight against deforestation and the reduction of methane emissions cannot lead to real solutions without a proper inclusion of the agricultural sector.
There are three factors to keep under observation. First, the role of technological innovation and digitization of the agricultural sector, with the use of emerging technologies such as blockchain and the use of drones and artificial intelligence. However, all this may not be sufficient as the social components of how technology is developed and spread all over the world will have to be taken into account, as well as the needs of local populations.
Secondly, the role of public and private funding will be important in making these innovations accessible globally. Finally, inclusiveness: farmers must be involved in decision-making processes at the international and local level so that every action taken in the sector leads to concrete and lasting changes.
The use of sustainable agriculture systems and the so-called “nature based solutions”, i.e. those strategies, actions, interventions, based on nature that provide environmental services and socio-economic advantages capable , when carried out in an urban context, to increase the resilience of cities have been sustantially absent from the debate up to now.
Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director, left a very strong message. “COP26”, she said, “is the last hope we have to avoid dramatic and irreversible impacts on food production systems, and therefore agriculture must be put at the center of the negotiations”. We will find out in the coming days if this message will be picked up by the negotiators and leaders present in Glasgow.
by Alessandro Caprini, ICN COP26 Volunteer
You are reading this ICN COP Bulletin article as part of the EC DEAR SPARK project. Marirosa Iannelli, Coordinator of the Climate & Advocacy Department of ICN, overviews this activity. ICN monitors negotiations and reports what is happening in Italian and English, on our website and on social channels, as part of a pan-European consortium of over 20 non-profit organizations committed to promoting climate awareness with particular attention to the role of young people and issues related to international cooperation and gender policies.