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COP28 food, agriculture and freshwater day wrap-up: WWF responds to key announcements

Dubai, United Arab Emirates – WEBWIRE

Several major announcements were made during Food, Agriculture and Water Day at COP28, demonstrating that many stakeholders and individual governments are committed to taking bold food-based climate action and restoring critical freshwater ecosystems. However, no consensus has yet been reached on a new draft of the Global Stocktake and there is a concerning possibility that meaningful action on food will not make the final agreement.

Joao Campari, Global Food Practice Leader, WWF said: “Food systems transformation has certainly been a core agenda item at COP28. What started as a few voices on the margins of COPs just a couple of years ago has crescendoed to a summit-wide day of pledges and announcements. The Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action has now been signed by more than 150 countries. WWF welcomes their commitments and particularly applauds the governments of Brazil, Norway, Sierra Leone, Cambodia and Rwanda who have launched the Alliance of Champions for Food Systems Transformation, and are determined to go further, faster, by taking ‘whole of government’ approaches and learning from each other. We are equally encouraged by the fact more than 200 non-state actors have committed to accelerating transformation – while we need leadership from governments, implementation will take collaboration across the whole food system.”

Commenting on the Global Stocktake Campari said: “The Global Stocktake remains the critical outcome of COP28. We need an ambitious agreement that keeps the 1.5oC goal alive and that means there must be meaningful inclusion of food systems transformation. With more than three quarters of the Parties signing the Emirates Declaration on Food, it is clear that the majority recognise the importance of food-based climate action and champion a food systems approach that combines action on production, consumption and loss and waste. We are at risk of being held hostage by a small minority who are refusing to listen to science, nature or the people suffering from food insecurity and the impacts of climate change all over the world. Time is running out and negotiators must act now.”


There are no healthy food systems without healthy freshwater ecosystems. Thirty-three countries signed up to The Freshwater Challenge, which aims to ensure 300,000 kilometers of degraded rivers and 350 million hectares of degraded wetlands are committed to restoration by 2030. 

HE Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28 said, "With the climate crisis fuelling ever more extreme floods, storms, wildfires and droughts, we urgently need to invest in protecting and restoring our rivers, lakes, and wetlands. They are the best natural protection for our societies and economies, as well as major carbon stores. Rising to the Freshwater Challenge is key to tackling climate change, but it is also essential to pave the way to a net-zero, nature-positive and resilient future for all.”
Stuart Orr, WWF Global Freshwater Lead said, “Healthy rivers, lakes, and wetlands are our best buffer and insurance against the worsening impacts of climate change.  Investing in their protection and restoration will produce the most important returns: strengthening climate adaptation and reducing disaster risk as well as increasing water and food security, and reversing the catastrophic decline in freshwater biodiversity. But we need to find new pathways to address this urgently.”

Mellisa Ho, senior vice president for Freshwater and Food, WWF-US, said: “WWF celebrates the leadership and actions taken by the US government in joining the Freshwater Challenge to conserve, value, and protect freshwater resources.  We’re pleased to see the Biden administration follow up its commitment to conserving at least 30% of US lands and water by 2030 with another significant move, which represents the largest global freshwater restoration and protection initiative in history.  This is a tremendous signal that the United States appreciates the connection between climate and nature, and the critical role freshwater ecosystems play in ensuring water security for all - the foundation for heathy, thriving communities. Healthy freshwater ecosystems are central to tackling the climate crisis and actions like this are a huge boost to efforts to secure the well-being of people and nature.” 


Commenting on the FAO Global Roadmap and how countries will implement commitments Campari said: “When the dust settles on COP28, encouraging commitments must immediately translate to impactful action on the ground and in the water. Walking away from Dubai, national-level stakeholders will have no shortage of tools with which to accelerate implementation. The COP28 Agriculture, Food and Climate Action Toolkit provides valuable guidance, while the first iteration of FAO Global Roadmap for food systems transformation, that identifies 20 milestones that countries must collectively achieve, is an important contribution.

“However, we believe a stronger suit of actions will need to be identified in the next two instalments of the Roadmap. For instance, there is currently a focus on improving existing production practices and gaining efficiencies, rather than shifting to nature-positive production at scale and adopting agroecological principles.


Commenting on the FAST Initiative Inception meeting, Martina Fleckenstein, Global Head of Food Policy, WWF said: ”The FAST Initiative is a good example of how continuity can be created between COPs and it has played an important role in increasing the prominence of food systems on the climate agenda. Moving forward, if the Initiative is to deliver impact on the ground and in the water, work must be accelerated with more meaningful developments before COP29.

“One of the key objectives of FAST is to increase access to climate financing for food systems and with adaptation costs increasing we need to see both the public and private sector release more money, particularly for agroecology and nature-based solutions.”


Commenting on the launch of the Transforming Urban & Rural Food Systems (TURFS) Consortium strategy for action in cities, Joao Campari, Global Food Practice Leader, WWF said: “Cities are home to more than half of the world’s population, are responsible for around 70% of greenhouse gas emissions and, by 2050, are expected to account for 80% of food consumption. Urban and peri-urban food systems are integral to achieving climate, nature and health goals. COP28 needs to deliver ambitious global actions, but impact depends on them being translated into implementable plans in cities. TURFS is committed to scaling and accelerating the work that many Mayors and local stakeholders are already doing – for the benefit of people and nature.”


WWF and COP28

WWF’s Food expectations paper for COP28 is available here, and all WWF’s climate-focused food work information is here: .  


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