COP27 Network Debriefing | Action Ahead to Promote Progress and Accountability

The outcomes of COP27 in relation to agriculture, food systems and nature were discussed at an online NFP network meeting on 12 December 2022. There was a mixed picture from both panelists and participants in terms of the outcomes. On the one hand, there was growing interest in food and agriculture in and around the climate negotiations and lots of pledges, and on the other hand, there was a lack of ambitious negotiations’ outcomes. The main challenge is implementing, and making sure accountability mechanisms are improved and in place to ensure that the many new initiatives live up to their full potential.

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NFP Dutch Network Debriefing | COP27 Climate-Food-Nature

COP27 Formal outcomes

A glance at the decisions taken at the Sharm El-Sheikh Climate Change Conference show that the implementation plan “acknowledges that climate change exacerbates the global energy and food crises, and vice versa, particularly in developing countries.” COP27 also delivered a breakthrough agreement on a new “Loss and Damage” Fund for vulnerable countries. During the formal negotiations it was agreed that work is to continue on the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture with the establishment of the four-year Sharm el-Sheikh joint work on implementation of climate action on agriculture and food security.

These formal negotiation outcomes were considered by many as not being hugely ambitious. This is one of the reasons that countries form coalitions with partners who are willing to take action. . Such coalitions provide countries with the opportunity to show their readiness for climate action through other channels. This led to all the new initiatives, pledges and commitments at COP27, including within the domain of food and agriculture.

COP27: setting the agenda on climate & food

Danush Dinesh, founder of Clim-Eat and leading co-host of the Food Systems Pavilion captured all the formal and informal achievements in relation to the Climate-Food-Nature nexus in numbers:

  • There were at least 11 major reports and roadmaps released on food and climate.
  • 18 different initiatives were launched on food and agriculture by many different stakeholders.
  • Over 26 billion dollars have been committed for action on food systems.

These financial commitments and initiatives give a reason to be optimistic about the future. They definitely point our attention to the need for climate action with a focus on food systems. However, it is not always clear whether the pledges and announcements are actually new or part of old commitments.

Lucas du Pré, Senior Policy Officer for Global Climate and Food Security at the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, and member of the Dutch delegation observed that there is certainly value in the many discussions and workshops on mitigation, adaptation, finance and loss and damage. This includes particular attention for agriculture, which is the only sector with a place in the negotiations. If governments keep talking about these topics it might lead to action later. According to Du Pré, COPs are there to set the agenda and show ambition. Implementation should happen afterwards.

You can find an overview here of many of the initiatives, commitments and relevant articles related to the Climate-Food-Nature agenda at COP27 on our website.

How about (a lack of) accountability?

During the meeting it was often mentioned that accountability was missing at COP27. The fact that many more pledges were made compared to other COPs indeed raises the question of how to deliver on such initiatives when the momentum is gone?

One can for example question if the successor of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) is a real implementation plan. It is here that we as agrifood stakeholders can and should play a role. The successor of the KJWA for example provides an opportunity to submit ideas to the UNFCCC on what the implementation plan should entail in practice. These submissions will be discussed in June 2023 and will help to shape the plan.

Furthermore, programs such as Food and Agriculture for Sustainable Transformation (FAST) and the Initiative on Climate Action and Nutrition (I-CAN) provides the opportunity to see how we can engage and take part in such initiatives ourselves. FAO together with Fair will develop a roadmap to transition to 1.5 degrees. This should become a mechanism which can be used by stakeholders to keep actors and investors accountable. The fact that COP28 strives to keep food on par with energy also provides an opportunity for our stakeholder community to question the results on these themes and ensure accountability.

What do the COP27 results mean in practice for smallholder farmers and youth?

According to Elizabeth Nsimadala, President of the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation, it was good that food and agriculture gained visibility at COP27 and it is positive that there is more recognition for the contribution of smallholder farmers to responsive actions in agriculture. The remaining question however is how celebrated achievements like the loss and damage fund will reach and benefit smallholder farmers because it is difficult for them to access adaptation finance. So specifically from a farmer’s perspective there is a need for accountability and implementation mechanisms. Nsimadala concluded by stating that we should thus ensure that the voice of farmers is being heard in decision-making processes and we should support them in explaining the finance mechanisms and building partnerships. It is therefore important to repeat that actors can still influence the implementation of new initiatives and commitments.

Farah Shishani, a member of RNW Media delegation of young people from the Arab world to COP27 explained that while it was positive that youth gained a platform at COP27, we should ensure that youth keeps a place in agriculture, food and climate in between COPs as well. This remains relevant as working in agriculture is not very attractive for young people and there are innovative solutions needed to change the status quo. This could mean extensive capacity building in climate smart agriculture or regenerated farming and water harvesting techniques. Inclusive involvement of youth also means that knowledge and content is available in their own language as climate change affects people from different backgrounds. Texts in Arabic were for example hardly available. Shishani saw this as a real gap during COP27. It was difficult for the delegates to share the information among their wider network.

Looking ahead

It can be concluded that COP27 succeeded in keeping the food-nature-climate nexus on the agenda. There was a growing interest in food and agriculture in the climate negotiations and food and energy will again have a prominent place at COP28. Yes, there was a lack of ambitious negotiations’ outcomes but there were simultaneously many more initiatives related to food and climate announced than at other COPs. Accountability mechanisms are a top priority for the period ahead. It is up to all actors with a role in the climate-food-nature nexus to ensure that the many new initiatives live up to their full potential.

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