COP28 Emirates Declaration: Food is finally at the top table but measurable targets are missing

The new Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action​​ calls for countries to advance policies and finance to reshape the food system.

Food and farming stakeholders welcomed the resolution, recognising it as the first COP declaration to directly tackle the relationship between food systems and the environment, but they also identified potential fault lines.

The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) said the declaration brings food systems, which historically have been marginalised at international climate summits, into the fold. Nevertheless, the organization decried the fact the statement contains no legally binding commitments.

Lim Li Ching, co-chair of IPES-Food and senior researcher for Third World Network, reacted: “We cannot meet our global climate goals without urgent action to transform the industrial food system, which is responsible for one-third of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and 15% of fossil fuel use. But while this is an essential first step, the language remains very vague – and specific actions and measurable targets are conspicuously missing.”

The resolution will only be meaningful if there is follow-through on the ground, remarked Jennifer Morris, CEO of global environmental organisation, The Nature Conservancy. “The 134 countries who have committed to the declaration will need to work with every actor in the food system to deliver real lasting change.”

NDCs need to be updated

The lack of reference to the industry’s fossil fuel dependence was a glaring emission, according to Patty Fong, program director at the Global Alliance for the Future of Food.