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At COP28, FAO to pitch for reforms in global food systems to tackle climate crisis

UN food body to advocate for reduced meat consumption in developed nations to achieve global emission goals

At COP28, FAO to pitch for reforms in global food systems to tackle climate crisis
[Source photo: Chetan Jha/Press Insider]

The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will this week pitch for reforms in global food systems, advocating for reduced meat consumption in developed countries to combat the climate crisis.

Agricultural activities and land use changes, such as deforestation and wetland drainage for crop and livestock production, contribute to over a fifth of global carbon emissions, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

For the first time, the FAO will present research at the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) summit, highlighting the need to cut back on animal farming to achieve global emission goals.

Rome-based FAO’s plan will focus on reducing meat consumption in high-consumption countries and improving livestock farming in developing nations, balancing climate targets with nutritional needs.

Discussions on the world’s food systems and their climate impacts have traditionally been marginalized in UN climate change negotiations. This year marks a shift, with a dedicated food day and over 20 major events focusing on food, agriculture, and water at the COP28 in Dubai, showcasing the growing importance of these issues in climate talks.

“Climate change solutions such as agroforestry, soil restoration, and sustainable livestock and fisheries management offer dual benefits: they enhance biodiversity and food security, unique to agriculture and food systems,” Kaveh Zahedi, director of the FAO office of climate change, biodiversity and environment, said.

At COP, FAO will showcase some unique agrifood systems initiatives with examples of projects that are demonstrating change on the ground. “We want to do everything possible to get climate finance flowing towards these solutions,” Zahedi said.

On a per capita basis, global meat consumption is set to rise by 2% in the coming decade, according to the OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2023-32

This increase of 0.7 kg per year per person by 2032 is similar to the previous decade and mainly due to the increase in the consumption of poultry meat, the outlook said.

Poultry meat, which has the least carbon footprint, is expected to account for 41% of the protein consumed from all meat sources by 2032, the outlook added.

“Agriculture and food security are already threatened by climate change, in particular in small island developing states, least developed countries and land-locked countries, affecting the livelihoods of people including smallholder farmers, pastoralists, and fishers,” FAO deputy director-general Maria Helena Semedo said earlier this year.

“We need to act now at scale. Building sustainable and resilient agrifood systems is fundamental to tackling the climate crisis, food insecurity and biodiversity loss”, she said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will travel to Dubai for the climate action summit at COP28 this week, and is expected to hold bilateral meetings with global leaders, the ministry of external affairs (MEA) said in a press release on Sunday.

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