Food Systems and COP26

Stephen Whitfield attended COP26 and presented his ideas on transformation on food systems. In this excerpt from an article originally published on the University of Leeds site, he highlights the work done in this field and the long road ahead:

Agriculture has risen the UNFCCC agenda in recent years, perhaps catalysed, to some extent, by the Koronivia Joint Working Group on Agriculture. This was initiated in 2017, described as a landmark initiative to mainstream agriculture within the convention. In addition, there were numerous initiatives and agreements at COP26 that moved the agricultural sector much more towards the centre of global climate action. At Glasgow, the joint working group were finalising a summary of the Koronivia roadmap, a series of international consultations and workshops on sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture that concluded this year. But COP26 also saw the launch and endorsement of new ambitious initiatives, such as the Policy Action Agenda for Transition to Sustainable Food and Agriculture and the Global Action Agenda for Innovation in Agriculture and new commitments on reducing deforestation, methane emissions, and more.

Our agriculture and food systems are also interconnected across sites and scales, and climate change impacts on these systems are highly variable and uncertain. In this context, there is a need for evidence-based debate across multiple stakeholders around the risks and benefits associated with different pathways of agricultural and food systems transformation into the future.  The GCRF-AFRICAP programme has developed the participatory iFEED framework, which provides an integrated evidence base (building on climate models and grounded research) for exploring alternative pathways and supporting cross-stakeholder dialogue.

The commitments being made around sustainable agricultural transformation at COP26 are an essential starting point. However, for this translates into sustainable and equitable agricultural transformation in Africa, they need to materialise as effective support for inclusive innovation and knowledge sharing. There is a need for investment in creating and sustaining platforms and learning that brings together stakeholders from across systems and supply chains to tell their stories and collectively and inclusively envision and govern transformation.

You can read more about Stephen’s experiences at COP26 in the Medium article and the below article.