Kenya Hails COP28 Presidency for Placing Agriculture at the Heart of Climate Action

Men holding hands
Nation Africa
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Kenya Hails COP28 Presidency for Placing Agriculture at the Heart of Climate Action

In an interview with the Nation, Action Against Hunger Kenya (AAH), Communications Specialist, Alvin Mwanyasia, termed the COP28 presidency’s endorsement of the Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action “a historic milestone” in the fight against hunger.

“There is no better way of realising the Paris Climate Agreement goals and keeping 1.5 degrees Celsius within the manageable levels than giving the global food insecurity urgency and attention,” Mr Mwanyasia said.

The COP28 Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action was announced during the World Climate Action Summit (WCAS) on Friday.

He hailed it as an advancement of the political will to scale up research and development on sustainability in food systems and agriculture in a way that incorporates

the knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities in humanitarian settings.

The growing impact of climate change on agrifood has continued to underscore Africa’s need for policies to save lives and protect livelihoods.

Mr Mwanyasia was hopeful that this step would be welcomed by African nations, emphasising on the need to repurpose public policies to respond to loss and damage.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Kenya Private Sector Alliance, (KEPSA) members.

The Sasisni PLC Group Managing Board Chairperson Martin Ochieng, observed that the recent incorporation of agriculture in the UNFCCC list of priorities would go a long way in helping African countries get back on track in combating climate change.

He was concerned that only 15 percent of the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) rolled out in 2015 were on the right track while the rest kept on performing dismally.

Sustainable Development Goal 2 focuses on ending hunger and achieving food security and improved nutrition - promoting sustainable agriculture was among the goals that were lagging behind.

During the COP28, the high-income leaders pledged USD 430 million to help the climate-vulnerable poor countries cushion themselves against the climate change risks. More than 134 world leaders endorsed Food and Agriculture transformation on the global climate agenda. Diverse initiatives aimed at boosting food and climate actions were announced during the first thematic session of the World Climate Action Summit. Also, more than USD 2.5 billion was mobilised by the global leaders to be channeled towards supporting the food-climate agenda. During the declaration, it was noted that over 130 countries signed up to the leaders ‘COP28 UAE Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action.

The founding members of the Technical Cooperation Collaborative include the UAE, Italy, the United States of America, the United Kingdom, the World Bank, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), AGRA, CGIAR, GAIN, Global Green Growth Institute (CGGI) and Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA).

During the announcement, The UAE and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched a USD 200 million partnership for Food Systems, Agriculture, Innovation,

and Climate Action. The funds will be channeled into agricultural research, scaling agricultural innovations, and assistance for the implementation of the Declaration. The Technical Corporation Collaborative partners also pledged more than USD 200 million.

During the declaration, COP28 UAE in collaboration with the World Business Council on Sustainable Development (WBCSD) and Boston Consulting Group (BCG), through the support of the UN Climate Change High-Level Champions launched the Action Agenda on Regenerative Landscapes.

It is anticipated that the agenda will see leading food and agriculture organisations working jointly to scale up regenerative agriculture that would transform over 160 million hectares into regenerative agriculture by 2030. The initiative will also be funded to the tune of USD 2.3 billion and engage at least 3.6 million farmers globally.

The COP28 Food Systems and Agriculture Agenda has four pillars, including national leadership, non-state actors, scaling up innovation, and finance. The declaration was aimed at protecting the lives and livelihoods of climate-vulnerable farmers in the global south. Endorsement of the Declaration is anticipated to boost food systems, build resilience to climate change,

reduce global emissions, and contribute to the global fight against hunger, aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Declaration – the first of its kind for the COP process - stresses the need for common action on climate change, which adversely affects a large portion of the world’s population, particularly those living in vulnerable countries and communities.

This comes against the backdrop of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s report 2023 which raised concerns that despite the agrifood systems being at global level, it was yet to be given the deserved premium in the ongoing Damage and Loss Fund discussions.

The Food and Authority Report released on Friday shows that of all the disasters that happened between 2000 and 2022, the agricultural loss and damages totaled about 23 percent of all impacts across all economic losses.

The report established that 40 percent of countries globally reported economic losses directly linked to agriculture.

The FAO Director-General, Qu Dongyu, said that droughts alone caused at least 65 percent damage and losses equivalent to at least USD 3.8 trillion worth of crops and livestock production in the last 30 years in the agricultural sector alone.

“I extend my sincere congratulations to all countries for their important commitments to operationalise the Loss and Damage Fund. These pledges are not just financial; they represent a shared acknowledgment that addressing the challenges of climate change is an urgent moral imperative,” Mr Dongyu said.

According to the report, in 2020 alone, the agrifood sector employed over 866 million people worldwide and had a total turnover of USD 3.6 trillion.

He underlined the urgent need to improve mechanisms and appraisal tools to help assess the negative climatic impacts in contrast to present-day modalities which often fail to capture the slow-onset disasters and non-economic dimensions of loss and damage.

The report therefore outlined possible actions to be adopted in the mitigation of the loss and damage impacts in the agrifood systems and further recommended global collaborative and stronger partnerships including classifying the precise meaning of loss and damage for the regional or national agrifood systems, investing in data collection and research, enhancing climate risk assessment implementing adaptation measures, and strengthening emergency responses.

With this in mind, Mr Dongyu recommended increased financial input towards the agricultural sector, which currently grapples with climate finance insufficiency.

Moreover, the in-depth scrutiny of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) has also revealed that about 35 percent of the current climate action plans unequivocally referred to loss and damage, underscoring the increased relevance of agriculture being identified as the single most impacted area.

This story was produced as part of the 2023 Climate Change Media Partnership, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Stanley Center for Peace and Security. It was first published by Nation Media Group on December 2, 2023 and has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Banner image: Men holding hands at UN Climate Change conference / Credit: PCS.

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