COP28 – will the spirit of compromise prevail?

Environment and climate
COP28 farming representatives holding a sign saying 'no farmers no food'

Photograph: Md. Zakir Hossain, Farmers' Voice, Bangladesh

As we near the scheduled end of COP28, delegates across the central Blue Zone are eagerly awaiting the next draft of the Global Stocktake text – an assessment of the world's response and progress on climate action.

On Sunday, COP President Al Jaber convened another ‘Changemakers Majlis’, bringing Ministers together to find a way forward.

A majlis is a longstanding Emirati tradition which aims to bring people together and encourages open, bold, and solutions-oriented conversations. The NFU was in the room representing the Farmers’ Constituency and heard DESNZ Minister Graham Stuart and others talk about the need to show ambition to keep 1.5C alive, a recognition of the difficulties of the energy transition and the need to compromise.

The final days of COP28 will show whether that spirit of compromise has prevailed.

A global roadmap for zero hunger and 1.5C

This past week saw the UN FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) launch its ‘Achieving SDG2 without breaching the 1.5C threshold: a Global Roadmap’. The FAO roadmap wants to move the narrative away from agriculture being seen as a sector that just produces emissions and leads to environmental degradation to one where agri-food systems are acknowledged as being ‘indispensable for human survival’ for the food they produce.

Improved efficiencies and global rebalancing are seen as essential by the FAO to delivering the roadmap’s aims.

Agriculture negotiations grind to a halt

Following a week of intensive and lengthy negotiations, agriculture negotiations have failed with the roadmap for the Sharm el-Sheikh joint work on implementation of climate action on agriculture and food security yet to be agreed.

With negotiations now closed, parties will reconvene at the Bonn Climate Conference in June 2024.

The Farmers’ Constituency released a statement saying it was “extremely disappointed” with this outcome, adding that “the failure to agree the roadmap is a failure to deliver for farmers”.

Despite the failing negotiations on the SSJW (Sharm el-Sheikh Joint Work), farmers will continue to advance in their efforts to adapt and mitigate climate change impacts – we cannot afford to wait any longer. Read more on the negotiations from BAB Senior European Policy adviser Jenny Brunton.

Farmers’ voices at COP must be heard

Sunday 10 December was designated by the UAE Presidency as the COP28 thematic day dedicated to food, agriculture and water. To celebrate this and ensure that farmers were at the forefront in highlighting the ambition of the agriculture sector, the UNFCCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) Farmers’ Constituency held its first ever advocacy action.

What is the SSJW?

The SSJW Sharm el-Sheikh joint work on implementation of climate action on agriculture and food security is a four-year programme agreed at COP27 which recognises the priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger, as well as the particular vulnerabilities food production systems are exposed to due to the impact of climate change.

The roadmap for the programme was due to be agreed at COP28 following a failure to reach agreement at the June 2023 Bonn Climate Conference.

Read more about the SSJW.

Co-ordinated by the NFU team in Dubai, the action gave farmers from around the world the opportunity to highlight the uniqueness of the sector, the challenges that they are facing, and the solutions which they are working on to the wider audience at COP28. Farmers participation in the UNFCCC process is central to raising global climate ambition for our sector, untapping the great potential that agriculture has in the fight against climate change. Farmers’ voices at the COP must be heard.

NFU Senior Climate change adviser Dr Ceris Jones and BAB Senior European Policy adviser Jenny Brunton together with NFU member and current Nuffield Scholar Will Brown joined UK government representatives and highlighted the importance of the Global Stocktake and COP decision acknowledging the role of farmers in delivering climate solutions directly to newly appointed Defra Secretary Steve Barclay.

The UK Pavilion ran a series of events discussing topics such as food systems and climate finance, and the NFU and BAB made clear that that farmers’ voices needed to be heard in these discussions.

Farmers hold much of the knowledge, ability and ambition to deliver our climate ambition, but we need the policy framework and support to deliver this.


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