COP27 – harnessing the passion of young farmers

First published: 07 November 2022

An image of James Johnson stood in front of a COY sign

Mixed young farmer and NFU member James Johnson

In the run up to COP27, last week saw the NFU team join the biggest gathering of youth climate activists in Sharm El Sheikh for the 17th COY (Conference of Youth). Read on to find out what was discussed and how young farmers are leading the discussion on everything from food security to farm biodiversity.

The COY is an annual event under the banner of YOUNGO – The Official Youth Constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – and is where young people come together to talk about climate change and how it can be addressed.

This year saw mixed young farmer from Yorkshire, James Johnson, and Environment Advisor for the North East, Kate Adams, representing not just British agriculture, but global agriculture on the international stage, discussing the important topic of food security in the face of an over changing climate.

The conference also laid out the key asks the next generation of farmers need from COP27, in order to progress their plans to tackle climate change.

A full house

Speaking at a packed plenary session, Kate and James covered multiple topics, with Kate focussing on key policy asks at COP27 and beyond, while James discussed the practical side of maintaining food security within the ideology of regenerative agriculture.

Interest in the topic was clear, with questions and discussions continuing outside of the session.

The NFU at COY17

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Conversations spanned a huge range of topics; everything from the importance of soil health and resilience and livestock integration in farming systems, to the significance of farm biodiversity.

Looking towards the next generation

Speaking after the conference, James said:

“To be given the opportunity to speak on behalf of the agriculture sector at an international event was a great privilege. Food security is relatable to everyone and being able to highlight key topics such as soil health and resilience, livestock integration and improving biodiversity, in addition to sequestering carbon, fell on passionate and interested ears. It is quite obvious to see that young people are incredibly passionate about climate change and have a keen interest to learn about every sector and how each one can help to address the climate crisis.

“I am now looking forward to continuing these discussions at COP27.”

Next up on the agenda for James is attendance at COP27 where he is speaking at an official event to highlight the steps he is taking at home to increase resilience to climate change and decrease greenhouse gas emissions, all while improving yields. Meanwhile Kate will be following UNFCCC negotiations.


Read more on the NFU at COP27:

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