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COP28: The UN’s Net-zero Food Plan to Save the 1.5-Degree Goal, Combat Climate ‘Doomisim’

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has identified 10 priority areas – such as livestock, soil and water, crops, diets and fisheries – where following the roadmap can help push the world closer to achieving ‘Zero Hunger’, the second of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to the official website of the UN.

The aim: to transform agrifood systems – which encompass how the food we eat is farmed or raised, how it is transported, and how and where we dispose of it – growing harvesting from net emitters to into a carbon sink by 2050, capturing 1.5 gigatons of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

The goal: To help to eliminate world hunger without driving the planet past the 1.5 degree limit for global warming as set by the Paris Agreement.

On the side lines of the UN climate conference in Dubai (COP28), UN News spoke to David Laborde, Director of the Agrifood Economics Division at FAO, who said that the roadmap is designed to avoid “doomism” and provides avenues to act today in a way that can benefit all now and in the future.

“We need policymakers to act. We need the civil society to be mobilized and the private sector to understand that making better choices today means making investments more sustainable and more profitable for tomorrow.”

While 120 action points may seem like a great deal, Laborde stressed that the end goal is to achieve “a system transformation where everyone has to play a role”.

Meanwhile, FAO’s chief economist, Maximo Torero, told UN News that the goal of this roadmap is to transform agrifood systems through accelerated climate actions to “help achieve food security and nutrition for all, today and tomorrow.”

With around 738 million chronically malnourished people around the world, Torero said food must be part of the discussion on climate and must attract climate investments, which currently sit at a meagre four percent.

According to a report released in connection to the roadmap, FAO said climate finance flowing to agrifood systems is strikingly low and continues to diminish compared to global climate finance flows, at a time when this type of financing is urgently needed.

He said the work being done at COP28 is “a good starting point”, and this roadmap can provide guidance for implementing the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action, which was launched at the high-level opening of the conference.

The FAO initiative was launched on the day dedicated to food, agriculture and water at Dubai’s Expo City, where ministers and other senior officials gathered to discuss pathways towards implementing the Emirates Declaration, now signed by over 150 member States.

In a message to the high-level event, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said the Declaration is a “powerful statement of political will to drive the transitions we need” as the deadline to achieve the 2030 Agenda fast approaches.

“With seven years remaining to achieve our sustainable development and climate goals, we need to urgently strengthen our collective efforts using food systems as a lever to accelerate implementation.”

Mohammed added that any path to fully realizing the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement must include agriculture and food systems, from which over one third of emissions emanate.