Is agriculture a topic at COP28?

  December 5, 2023

Dubai, December 3, 2023 – The 28th Conference of the Parties (COP 28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was held in Dubai from November 30 to December 12. On this occasion, more than 130 countries signed the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems and Climate Action.

First of all, the Declaration reaffirms the environmental and climate commitments of the signatory states. Among these commitments is the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, adopted by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2022, under which states commit to reducing “[…] the global risk from pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals by at least half“. 

The declaration also commits States to include agriculture and food systems in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). Established by the Paris Agreement concluded in 2015, NDCsare countries’ self-defined national climate pledges under the Paris Agreement, detailing what they will do to help meet the global goal to pursue 1.5°C, adapt to climate impacts and ensure sufficient finance to support these efforts“. National action plans are therefore regularly updated by countries, and published on the United Nations Climate Change Conference website (public register).

Thus, the link between food, agriculture and climate change is finally being taken into account by the COP. Indeed, the pesticide-dependent agricultural system that dominates the world today is one of the main causes of climate change, but it is also one of the main current and future climate change victims.

Although the Declaration acknowledges the role of agriculture and food systems in combating climate change, it is not a legal text. Doubts therefore remain as to whether these commitments will be respected in national and international pesticide legislation, in a context largely favorable to the agrochemical industry. For example, the European Union, a signatory to the Declaration, recently renewed the authorization of glyphosate for a further 10 years. Likewise, Brazil, also a signatory and the world’s biggest consumer of pesticides, passed legislation on the eve of COP 28 to facilitate the registration of hazardous plant protection products.

Finally, we note that the States are giving themselves until 2025, the date of the next COP, to implement this Declaration, which is part of the broader perspective of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in 2015.

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