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WWF Responds To Stalled Food Systems Negotiations At COP28

Negotiations on food systems transformation at the UN climate conference COP28 have stalled, threatening collective ability to meet climate, nature and development goals.

On Tuesday 5 December negotiations on the Sharm el-Sheikh Joint Work on Implementation on Agriculture and Food Security (SSJW) concluded with no agreements of substance. Negotiations on how to implement commitments made in Egypt at COP27 will only resume in June 2024, 18 months after SSJW was established. In addition, a new draft of the Global Stocktake failed to include actions on food systems transformation, despite them being in both the mitigation and adaptation sections of earlier drafts. A group ~50 organisations (including WWF) have expressed significant concern through an open letter to the UNFCCC and urged for the inclusion of food systems in the final decision text. COP28 started positively with regards to food-based climate action when 134 Heads of State signed the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action. Several initiatives have also been launched by public-private partnerships, but latest developments threaten to undermine these positive announcements.

“The science is clear that we will not achieve any of the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement without more ambitious, comprehensive, and equitable climate action on food. The fact negotiations on the Joint Work on Agriculture and Food Security have failed to deliver any agreement, and food systems are currently being sidelined from the Global Stocktake is deeply disappointing. Those in negotiation rooms cannot be tone deaf to science and urgency.

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“With Joint Work negotiations not resuming until June 2024, an opportunity to take a big step forward on climate action has already been wasted – negotiators can’t squander another by excluding food systems transformation from the Global Stocktake. It has to be reinstated - and meaningfully. Formal negotiations need to match the ambition shown by the COP28 Presidency and various public and private actors, or we risk the initial promise of COP28 going unfulfilled.

“The commitment world leaders showed by signing the Emirates Declaration, to integrate food systems approaches (combining food production, consumption and loss and waste) in climate action was exactly what we need at a time when a 1.5 degrees future looks harder and harder to achieve. This commitment keeps the hope alive, but it must be reflected in formal negotiations and urgently lead to action to protect, sustainably manage and restore landscapes, seascapes and riverscapes that are critical to sustain life on Earth - particularly those being degraded by unsustainable food systems.”

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