COP27 was meant to be the “Implementation COP”, but after two weeks of negotiations, existing pledges and national plans remain insufficient to reach the Paris agreement 1.5-degree target. Although food and agriculture have been higher up the agenda than at any previous round of climate talks, solutions put forward to help tackle their dramatic impact on climate change do not challenge the current status-quo, confirming once more the overrepresentation of the agrifood industry’s interests.
Edward Mukiibi, president of Slow Food comments: “Most of the debates and discussions have moved from finding more concrete solutions to climate change – like shifting from a fossil fuel intensive industrial agriculture system to agroecological ones, towards financing for climate change adaptation. Financing developing countries to address adverse effects of climate change without addressing the root causes and mitigation measures of the crisis will not help. It will only give industrial agriculture giants more freedom to propel their green washing false solutions”.
Slow Food welcomes several positive developments that took place during COP27. The organization of over two hundred side events on food and the presence of four different pavilions dedicated to food and agriculture, have shown that the world has finally come to acknowledge the impact of our agricultural system on climate change. Similar conclusions can be drawn from the incorporation of a dedicated day to agriculture to the official program. Lastly, the agreement for a “loss and damage” fund is good news for vulnerable countries in their struggle against the adverse effects of climate change.
That being said, COP27 remains an empty shell, whose agenda was dominated by agribusiness companies with the world’s largest meat and dairy firms, top pesticide and fertilizer companies, fossil fuel lobbyists, and other major agribusiness firms being given free reign to block any meaningful action. The number of delegates representing big agribusiness has more than doubled at the UN climate talks since last year and is even greater than some country delegations. As these polluting corporations are responsible for considerable damage on the planet, they should not be allowed to set the tone of climate negotiations.
Meanwhile, the voices of small-scale farmers and food producers and indigenous people– who are at the forefront of the effects of climate change, were marginalized. Yet, small-scale producers are critical for global food security, producing as much as 80% of the food consumed in regions such as Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, while indigenous people are the guardians of an incredible variety of sustainable practices. Their traditional knowledge is key to help tackle the worst effects of climate change and build resilience.
As a result, food systems and truly sustainable solutions were cast aside at COP27. Unfortunately, the Koronivia joint work on agriculture does not include food systems, and sidelines agroecology all together as a potential solution for adaptation to climate change, despite its proven, multiple benefits. Without an ambitious mandate for the Koronivia mechanism, the world will not be able to deliver sustainable, fair, and resilient food systems that enable people and nature to prosper within planetary boundaries.
Slow Food condemns the false solutions that keep being put forward in international climate talks, such as GMOs. If we want to ensure both long-term food security and the survival of the planet, such techno-fixes must be out of the picture.
World leaders need to acknowledge that agroecology is the only path towards resilience, and to listen to the needs and solutions of small-scale farmers. As outlined in our Climate Declaration, Slow Food calls for a shift from a system based on climate-intensive global food trade to one promoting fair and short distribution networks. We need a holistic transformation of food systems that encompasses all links in the chain, from production to consumption.
COP27 has fallen short on delivering an ambitious plan for the future of food, but the fight continues. Slow Food will keep developing grassroots actions to tackle climate change and mobilizing its network and citizens worldwide to pressure decision makers into immediate action, at local and global level.