News, Systems Thinking

COP26 COMMENT: From pledges to policy, there’s still a long way to go


Friday, 12 November – Land and water ecosystems present in the second draft text of COP26 but not food. Ruth Richardson Executive Director at the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, a strategic alliance of philanthropies, comments:

“From the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration to 45 governments and 95 companies pledging urgent investment to protect nature and shift to more sustainable ways of farming, the necessity of transforming food systems as radical climate action is finally breaking through. Important efforts are also underway to align private, philanthropic, and multilateral funders with national actors for greater impact — such as the $1.7 billion in funding committed to Indigenous Peoples and communities to prevent deforestation (inextricably linked to food systems).

“But, from pledges to hard policy, there’s still a long way to go: many of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), national action plans at the heart of the Paris Agreement, are still weak on food systems. This leaves the potential they hold for adaptation and mitigation untouched.

“For example, we’ve assessed 8 NDCs to date* and none address emissions from livestock production; none (expect Germany) indicated a shift away from subsidizing harmful farming practices, such as chemical-intensive agriculture or intensive livestock production or the mass production of ultra-processed foods; and, none (expect Colombia) demonstrate an inclusive, participatory, transparent NDC development and implementation process that engages a diversity of stakeholders, especially the most vulnerable.

“The NDCs are ripe for review and it needs to happen before 2025. So, as we look ahead to COP27 in Egypt next year, let’s pair ambition with accountability, centre food systems at the heart of these blueprints to action, and truly galvanize action for a 1.5C world.”


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*The Global Alliance for the Future of Food is a strategic alliance of philanthropic foundations working together and with others to transform global food systems. We have developed an assessment framework for countries to integrate food systems into their NDCs (expected Spring 2022) and, of the 8 out of 14 NDCs assessed to date, the analysis shows a minority of NDCs submitted to date include progressive aspects related to food systems. Countries under assessment include Bangladesh, Canada, China, Colombia, Egypt, the European Union (with a focus on national climate policies from France, Germany, and Spain), Kenya, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Vanuatu.