COP28, the United Nations Climate Change Conference, brought together global leaders to discuss how the world can take action on climate change. Arrell Food Institute Director Dr. Evan Fraser attended COP28 and shared his reflections and highlights on the event.
This year, agri-food was on the table in a real and serious way. Conversations recognized both the contributions of the agri-food sector to the climate crisis, as well as the vulnerabilities of the sector to climate events. There was also a sense of optimism that food systems can be a key strategy in the solution and there are many practical things that people and governments can do to be part of that solution. Major food producers and processors participated, as did groups of small scale farmers. All of these discussions are crucial as we consider the role of the agri-food sector in solving the climate crisis.
CANZA celebrates international launch
For Canada, an important announcement was the international launch of the Canadian Alliance for Net-Zero Agriculture – or CANZA – as part of a panel featuring AFI’s Dr. Fraser, as well as John Stackhouse (RBC), Tim Faveri (Nutrien), Barbara Swartzentruber (The Natural Step), and Kristjan Hebert (Hebert Grain Ventures), moderated by Sonya Hoo (BCG).
The CANZA alliance brings together stakeholders across the agri-food ecosystem to drive progress towards a net-zero agri-food value chain, and University of Guelph’s Dr. Asim Biswas is leading the development of a blueprint for an accurate, reliable and cost-effective strategy to measure, report on and verify soil carbon levels. AFI is excited to be part of this initiative and to work with producers, NGOs, academic and industry partners who are joining this collaboration.
AFI Director Dr. Evan Fraser speaking on a panel at COP28.
Commitments and progress in agri-food
The COP28 UAE Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action was an important step in driving action towards sustainable food systems. This declaration, agreed upon by over 130 countries (including Canada), sets out a series of commitments and principles that will integrate agriculture and food systems into climate action plans.
Another significant achievement includes the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ launch of the global road map for how countries can achieve the Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger without breaching the 1.5 °C threshold – an initiative that will be continued at COP29 and COP30.
COP28 also saw the launch of the Alliance of Champions for Food Systems Transformation – a coalition of countries that have committed to urgent food systems transformation using a ‘whole government’ approach to benefit people, nature and climate.
The attention to the food and agriculture sector at COP28 was very exciting, but tremendous work still remains to drive change and progress for the sector.
Tensions remain between the emissions generated by agri-food, particularly from livestock production, and the important role of food production for feeding the world, for farm families, for our economy, and for realizing agriculture’s enormous potential to reduce emissions and contribute to sustainability. COP28 was an important step forward in advancing discussions and convening a critical mass of allies to make progress towards these important goals.
Interested in learning more about current developments at the intersection of climate change and agri-food? Check out the following AFI projects and resources: