Slow Food Raises the Alarm: COP27 Must Turn Away from False Solutions Regarding Food Systems

08 Nov 2022 | English

As the COP27 is now underway (November 6-18), Slow Food raises the alarm about the serious lack of progress toward tackling the impact of food and agriculture on climate and building a resilient food system. As highlighted in Slow Food’s Climate Declaration, food and farming are part  of the solution and not just a cause of climate change.

“The COP is becoming a round table for industrial agriculture and polluting cooperations to negotiate their right to pollute, putting the livelihood of millions of people at stake”, says Edward  Mukiibi, president of Slow Food. “Small scale agroecological farmers demand that COP27 treat the climate crisis as an emergency, by focusing on real solutions like agroecology and on the transition from fossil-fuel dependent practices.”

Agroecology should be recognized as a central tool to tackle the multiple crises we face, including the climate crisis: agroecology is rooted in rebuilding relationships between agriculture and the environment, and between food systems and society. Evidence shows that agroecological systems keep carbon in the ground, support biodiversity, rebuild soil fertility and sustain yields over time, providing a basis for secure farm livelihoods and healthy diets for all. A fact that was most recently backed up by one of the IPCC’s latest reports Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability published earlier this year.

Yet, although food and agriculture have had a more prominent place at COP26 last year in Glasgow, solutions that came out of it aimed at keeping the system in place. One example amongst other being the Koroniva joint work on agriculture, which does not address the food system as a whole, while focusing only on the adaptation to climate impacts, and putting climate mitigation and resilience building aside.

Marta Messa, Secretary General of Slow Food International comments: “The need to tackle food systems as a whole and the solutions offered by agroecology are clear and supported by a growing body of scientific evidence. We cannot afford to let agroecology be captured by vested interest or be used loosely as a term to legitimize pathways that ultimately maintain the status quo: some agrifood corporations, international philanthropic organizations, and governments are already using the term nature-based solutions to ‘hijack’ the food system sustainability agenda. For decades, the COP has been riddled by corporate vested interests that put profits over people and the planet. Will COP27 be an exception to this rule? The list of organizations involved suggests the contrary: CropLife International, the pesticide industry’s lobby group, PepsiCo, McDonald’s, JBS, the world’s largest meat company, and Coca-Cola, the world’s number one producer of fossil fuel-based plastic waste, as a sponsor of COP27.

Our industrial food production system and other land use activities are responsible for one third of global CO2 emissions, of which two thirds are linked to industrial livestock production. But agriculture, particularly small-scale farming in the Global South, is also the first victim of climate change. Farmers face increasing troubles to produce food due to changes in natural landscapes and extreme weather events (forest fires, hurricanes, heat waves, floods, droughts, storms, etc).

Taking place in Egypt, this COP is the perfect opportunity to highlight such impacts of climate change in the Global South, and the commitments made by the Global North to support developing countries which still remain outstanding.

“These payments are critical to not only mitigate the ravishes of climate change in the poorest parts of the planet; but to protect the green lungs of the plane”, says Shane Holland, Executive Chairman of Slow Food in the UK.

Also, the voices of those not usually heard are essential at this COP – those of women, people of colour, indigenous people and youth – they are at the forefront of the effects of climate change, and their traditional knowledge must be utilized in helping to tackle its worst effects. On November 10 (World Youth Day) the Slow Food Youth Network will bring these voices forward at COP27. In order to celebrate the role of youth as part of the solution to the climate crisis, IFAD and Slow Food Youth Network are joining forces in a quiz show like no other. The event (at 4:00pm EEST/local time at the IFAD pavilion) will provide a multi-sensory, immersive experience connecting the audience at COP27 with the lives and ambitions of youth innovators, leaders and activists. The game show will question the audience on how they would take charge towards ensuring a “Just Transition” in greening economies while strengthening social justice.

Our demands within the Slow Food Climate Declaration must be heard: good food and farming is part of the solution.

We must act today.

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