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Cop28 urges nations to put food at heart of climate action

Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri Wam
The UAE is looking at how to limit food wastage and the carbon impact of the food served at Cop28, said minister Mariam Almheiri
  • UAE environment minister addresses UN food summit
  • Cop28 presidency aims to bring together CEOs across supply chain

The UAE has called on governments around the world to put food at the centre of their climate-change agendas.

Speaking at the UN Food Systems Summit in Rome on Monday, Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, the UAE’s minister of climate change and the environment and Cop28 food systems lead, invited governments to sign the Leaders Declaration on Food Systems, Agriculture and Climate Action.

The declaration calls on governments to align their food systems (see below) and agriculture strategies with UN climate targets such as nationally determined contributions and national adaptation plans.

The Cop28 presidency is also calling on food and agriculture stakeholders to accelerate existing initiatives.

The UAE says Cop28 will bring together businesses, farming groups and other non-state organisations to drive progress, working with CEOs across the supply chain, from finance all the way down to production.

As part of this collaboration, it has launched an initiative to promote regenerative agriculture, such as restoring topsoil and increasing biodiversity in farming.

Almheiri said working to reduce agriculture-related emissions and to build the resilience of farmers affected by climate change would also contribute to realising both the Paris Agreement target.

“Cop28 aims to drive transformative change to secure a sustainable future for all,” she said.

What is a food system?

The term food system refers to all “activities involved in producing, processing, transporting and consuming food”, according to the UN.

Food systems are responsible for around one third of greenhouse gas emissions and 70 percent of fresh-water consumption, and can contribute to loss of biodiversity and ecosystem degradation.

The UN adds that a sustainable food system “delivers food and nutrition security for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for future generations are not compromised”.