Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President
Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Cop28 President Image Credit: COP28

Dubai: The UAE on Friday took the lead in mobilising $2.5 billion from the global community to support the food-climate agenda at COP28.

The host country of the UN Climate Change Summit partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to contribute $200 million for ‘Food Systems, Agriculture Innovation and Climate Action,’ focused on agricultural research, scaling agricultural innovations, and funding technical assistance for implementing the Declaration.

As it happened: World leaders call for action on Day 2 of COP28

The COP28 Presidency announced that 134 world leaders have signed up to its landmark agriculture, food, and climate action declaration.

The ‘COP28 UAE Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action’ (the Declaration) was announced at a special session of the World Climate Action Summit (WCAS), led by Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia Giorgia Meloni, Prime Minister of Italy, Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa, Prime Minister of Samoa and Anthony J. Blinken, Secretary of State for the United States of America.

Lives and livelihoods of farmers

The Declaration addresses both global emissions while protecting the lives and livelihoods of farmers who live on the frontlines of climate change.

“There is no path to achieving the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement and keeping 1.5C within reach, that does not urgently address the interactions between food systems, agriculture, and climate,” said Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment and COP28 Food Systems Lead.

“Countries must put food systems and agriculture at the heart of their climate ambitions, addressing both global emissions and protecting the lives and livelihoods of farmers living on the front line of climate change. Today’s commitment from countries around the world will help to build a global food system fit for the future,” she added.

Bill Gates, who was also present at the event, said: “I’m thrilled that we are adding to the broad partnership we’ve had in many areas, including health…We will have more news on that in the days to come. In agriculture, we really owe it to farmers to give them better tools.”

How will this help?

The 134 signatory countries to the Declaration are home to over 5.7 billion people and almost 500 million farmers, producing 70 percent of the food we eat. They are responsible for 76 percent of all emissions from global food systems or 25 percent of total emissions globally. The endorsement of the Declaration will help in strengthening food systems, building resilience to climate change, reducing global emissions, and contributing to the global fight against hunger, aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Declaration – the first of its kind for the COP process - stresses the need for common action on climate change, which adversely affects a large portion of the world’s population, particularly those living in vulnerable countries and communities.

“Today signals a turning point, embedding sustainable agriculture and food systems as critical components in both dealing with climate change and building food systems fit for the future. Together we will deliver lasting change for families, farmers, and the future,” said Almheiri.

While food systems are vital for meeting societal needs and enabling adaptation to climate impacts, they are also responsible for as much as a third of global greenhouse gas emissions. Many smallholder farmers in low- and middle-income countries are also facing heightened vulnerability to climate change.