COP28: Cities’ leadership inspires food and climate action on the global stage
Never before has there been an international climate conference that emphasizes the urgent need to not only put food on the table, but also include it in climate negotiations.
In fact, COP28 has a dedicated Food Day every day and the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action, which has been officially endorsed by the Council of the European Union, states clearly that “any path to fully achieving the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement must include agriculture and food systems (…) Agriculture and food systems must urgently adapt and transform in order to respond to the imperatives of climate change.” This is good news as ICLEI CityFood, together with many other organizations, has been urging national governments to link food to their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and there is a high likelihood that this will become a reality by COP30 in Brazil.
Putting this into context, the role of cities in driving food and climate action is paramount. Cities consume 70% of total food production and have an enormous reduction potential in terms of food waste and greenhouse gas emissions. This means that the food and climate battle will be won or lost at the city level. Strong collaboration between national and local governments is critical to win this battle. Few NDCs holistically address food systems with comprehensive value chain targets, including consumption and food waste. Cities are natural allies of national governments to ensure food security and resilient food systems—and they are not waiting to take action.
They can offer pioneering good practices that show how local food and climate action can lead to the transformation needed at a national and global scale. Recent reports such as the IPES Food Report ‘From Planet to Plate’ show many inspiring examples and stories of effective on-the-ground action, from “cutting emissions by promoting healthy and sustainable diets, reducing food waste, shortening food chains, training organic farmers, and ensuring their poorest inhabitants can access healthy and sustainable food.” (IPES Food Report, 2023)
Cities have emerged as leaders, demonstrating their commitment to address the global climate crisis through ambitious projects and policies. Their agile and adaptable structures enable them to pilot innovative models and solutions. Actionable programs, such as ICLEI CityFood, one of the oldest sustainable urban food programs, have been supporting small and large pioneer cities for over ten years on resilient urban-rural food system action. ICLEI CityFood applies a triple H approach, focusing on Healthy People, Healthy Landscapes, and Healthy Climate. The climate crises are linked to the food and biodiversity crisis and the answer to climate change will only be effective if the solution combines climate, nature and food.
Within this context, the COP Presidency hosted the session on 6 December entitled “Cities Leading the Way on Sustainable Food and Climate” to demonstrate how cities are taking the initiative to transform their food systems and drive climate action. Co-led by ICLEI CityFood, C40 and the High-Level Climate Champions, mayors and city leaders flanked by youth activists, food and advocacy experts reflected the essential nature of multi-stakeholder leadership on the ground to enact this change. Leaders discussed the urgency of reforming our broken food system to take collaborative action and the need for a more substantial commitment from governments at all levels to create a sustainable and resilient future.
Fabrício Muriana, Co-founder and Associate of Instituto Regenera, explained the very basic infrastructural challenges in providing locally produced food in the Amazonas town of Belém, the future host of COP30. The Mayor of Quelimane, Mozambique and ICLEI Global Board Member Manuel de Araújo, shared an empowering sustainable food initiative and linked to the impactful AfriFOODlinks project, and the Deputy Mayor Joosep Vimm from the European Green Capital Tallinn showed how they successfully link nature, food and climate through sustainable procurement and food education.
Looking ahead to COP30 in Brazil, the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action, which was announced on 1 December and signed by over 130 world leaders, lays the ground for food finally making it into national climate action pledges. Cities and mayors are natural allies on this journey and are essential partners in driving food system transformation and climate action.
This blog was written by Peter Defranceschi, Head of ICLEI's CityFood Program. For the original article, please click here.