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COP28 : Statements From Farmers Responding to First Ever COP Declaration on Food Systems


The Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action will be announced at COP28 on 1 December 2023. The first of its kind agreement, the Declaration is expected to be endorsed by more than 100 heads of state. It commits governments to transforming their food and agricultural systems in order to be a climate solution.

At the same time, a broad coalition of farmers and other front-line food systems actors, including businesses, cities, consumers, civil society, philanthropies and others engaged in food systems will endorse a compelling and ambitious shared call to action. The signatories will call for urgent action to address rising hunger and collectively transform food systems to deliver significant, measurable progress for people, nature and climate by 2030.

There is mounting evidence that agriculture and food systems are both a cause and casualty of climate change. Science also shows that they have a huge mitigation potential—up to 0.5°C. For this reason, food systems transformation has, for the first time, been made a top priority of this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28).

Statement from Esther Penunia, Secretary-General of the Asian Farmers’ Association Sustainable Development – a regional alliance of national farmers organisations representing 13 million family farmers across Asia:

“The declaration being launched today is a major milestone on the road towards a more resilient and sustainable food system. But the real work begins now. Governments need to work with family farmers networks to ensure the promises made in Dubai are translated into the concrete policies and funding needed to support small-scale producers – who produce a third of the world’s food – and promote a shift to more diverse and nature friendly farming which the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says is needed to safeguard food security.”

Statement from Elizabeth Nsimadala, President of the Eastern Africa Farmers Federation (EAFF) and part of an alliance of farmers organizations representing over 35 million small-scale food producers across the globe:

“The Emirates declaration has sounded the starting gun on the transformation of our food system. It recognizes that the world’s 439 million small-scale family farmers are key to delivering this vision but if we are to play our part we need a real say in decisions on food and climate and more direct access to climate finance: we receive just 0.3% of international climate finance despite producing a third of the world’s food. If governments work with us – and invest in us – we will create resilient and sustainable food systems which will feed the world for generations to come.”

Editor’s note: Elizabeth is making a keynote address on the Emirates Declaration at the official opening of the World Leaders Summit on 1st December.

Statement from Hilal Elver – former Special Rapporteur on the right to food, appointed member of the Steering Committee of the High Level Panel of Experts (HLPE) on food security and nutrition:

“The destruction of nature and climate change threaten food security, rural livelihoods and nutrition, but our food systems also cause a third of global emissions and are a primary driver of wildlife loss. It’s about time the COPs put them on the main menu. Food and agriculture must be at the heart of new climate plans and funding if we are to meet the Paris agreement and have enough nutritious food for everyone.”

Statement from Juan Carlos Jintiach, the Executive Secretary of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities and a Shuar Indigenous Leader from Ecuador

“Indigenous Peoples’ food systems are among the most sustainable in the world. We generate hundreds of nutritious foods on our ancestral lands that protect biodiversity and support humanity’s resilience in the face of climate change.

However, our food, ancestral knowledge, and communities are also amongst the most threatened, not just by the effects of climate change, but also the impacts of unsustainable practices in the global food system. Globally, agriculture drives more than 90% of tropical deforestation–and many of those forests had been cared for by Indigenous communities.

We welcome today’s endorsement of the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action at COP28. As countries revise their national climate action plans to incorporate food and land use by 2025–one of the requirements of the Emirates Declaration–it is imperative that they include safeguards for Indigenous People and local communities, addressing the wrongs they’ve committed in the past. For this reason, in the Non-State Actors’ Shared Call to Action, “Transforming Food Systems for People, Nature, and Climate,” which the leaders of the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities have signed along with a broad coalition of farmer, business, city and civil society organizations, signatories commit to respecting the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities and recognizing their role in advancing equitable food systems.

If the rights of our people, who are stewards of what remains of global biodiversity and pristine forests, are constantly under attack, then there will be no food or future for anyone on this planet.”


Interviews with farmer, indigenous and other frontline community leaders attending the upcoming COP28 negotiations are available. Nearly 100 leaders from North and South America, Africa, Asia and Europe are in Dubai to remind negotiators of their central role to achieving inclusive, resilient and sustainable food systems and to demand an equal seat at the decision-making table. They will note that despite producing a third of the world’s food, small-scale family farmers only receive 0.3 percent of international climate finance to adapt to climate impacts.

The leaders can comment on food systems announcements at the World Climate Action Summit on 1-2 December, and at the Food, Agriculture and Water Day on 10 December, the first time food is featured for a thematic day at COP. See more information on the COP28 agenda.

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