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Climate meet witnesses milestone declarations

By JAN YUMUL in Dubai, UAE | China Daily | Updated: 2023-12-12 07:51

An observer dressed as Santa Claus gestures as he poses for a photo, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 11, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

Over 150 countries sign deal that puts future of food systems at heart of talks

Milestone declarations and pledges on green farming, food systems, and mobilizing funds to rehabilitate forests and oceans packed the climate agenda at the COP28 summit as the two-week conference entered its final stretch in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.

On Dec 10, which was also COP28 Food, Agriculture and Water Day, a milestone declaration that puts the future of green farming and food systems at the heart of climate talks gained momentum after its signatories climbed to 152 countries from 134 since its launch on Dec 1.

The COP28 Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action stressed that any path to fully achieving the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement must include agriculture and food systems and that they have to urgently adapt and transform to respond to the imperatives of climate change.

The objectives include supporting workers in agriculture and food systems, scaling up adaptation, resilience, and responses, promoting food security, and strengthening the integrated management of water in agriculture and food systems at all levels to ensure sustainability and reduce adverse impacts on communities.

At the COP28 Presidency Conference on Sunday, the UAE's Minister of Climate Change and Environment Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri said the endorsements of 152 countries cover 5.9 billion people.

It also includes 73 percent "of all the food we eat", she said, and 78 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions that are coming from the food and agricultural sector.

Almheiri said the declaration and 152 endorsements mean it was the political will of the countries to ensure that food systems in the agricultural sector are part of the nationally determined contributions, biodiversity strategies, and adaptation plans.

She also said of the $83.7 billion in funding commitments mobilized so far, $3.1 billion will go into the food and agriculture systems but "we need to keep pushing the bar".

"We've been on a great listening tour. We've activated something called the 'ambition loop'," said Almheiri.

"That means we've been listening to many stakeholders, be it indigenous people farmers, local communities, governments, local governments, and listening and connecting the dots … I think this is one of the success recipes of getting so many endorsements today," said Almheiri.

She also said the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, together with the UAE, committed $200 million in response to threats caused by climate change as part of the agriculture and climate declaration.

Also on Sunday, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, launched a plan that looks to transform the world's agri-food systems from a net emitter to a carbon sink by 2050.

The FAO has identified 10 priority areas — such as livestock, soil and water, crops, diets and fisheries — where following the road map can help push the world closer to achieving "Zero Hunger".

Director of the Agrifood Economics Division at the FAO David Laborde said the road map is designed to avoid "doomism".

According to the report, "Climate-Related Development Finance to Agrifood Systems: Global and Regional Trends Between 2000 and 2021", released by the FAO in connection to the road map, climate finance flowing to agri-food systems was strikingly low and continued to diminish compared to global climate finance flows.

FAO's chief economist Maximo Torero told UN News that work being done at COP28 was "a good starting point".

Meanwhile, COP28's Nature, Land Use, and Ocean Day on Saturday received over $186 million in commitments and pledges to drive climate action aimed at protecting and restoring nature and climate toward forests, mangroves, and the ocean.

This funding is in addition to the $2.5 billion mobilized to protect and restore nature during COP28's World Climate Action Summit on Dec 2.

A key policy outcome of Nature, Land Use, and Ocean Day was a joint statement between the COP28 Presidency and the Convention on Biological Diversity, chaired by China.

COP28's Joint Statement on Climate, Nature, and People has been endorsed by 18 countries that lead climate, nature, and 11 biodiversity partnerships across mangroves, forests, and the ocean. This signals determination from countries to coordinate and simultaneously implement their nature and climate strategies, COP28 said in a news release.

"There is no path to fulfilling the Paris Agreement and keeping 1.5 C within reach without protecting and restoring nature, land, and the ocean. We must work in partnership, especially with the indigenous peoples and local communities who steward these critical assets," said Razan Al Mubarak, the UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28.

"The diverse, incredible turnout for Nature, Land Use, and Ocean Day at COP evidences the support for this dual nature-climate agenda and its centrality to the response to the 'Global Stocktake'. I am delighted that we also have a clear pathway for nature at COP30 in Belem (in Brazil)," she added.

The UAE and Brazil will jointly lead a two-year strategic partnership bridging COP28 and COP30.

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