Climate and Food Systems: a contribution from the Brazilian Lab On Urban Food Policies (“LUPPA”) to COP 28
Every year, the United Nations Climate Change Conference brings together all UN member countries to discuss strategies and establish agreements to contain global warming. Between November 30 and December 12 this year, the 28th edition of this Conference, COP 28, will be held in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.
Brazil will be one of the countries with the most eagerly awaited and prominent participation, both because of the political resumption of environmental commitments from the Brazilian Government, and also because of the global importance of the alternatives forged by the state and sectors of civil society with a focus on mitigation, adaptation and containment of the climate crisis in its various biomes and territories, especially the Amazon. The Brazilian delegation at COP 28 will be made up of state and civil society representatives, and the Lab on Urban Food Policies – LUPPA – will be part of this delegation through the face-to-face participation of Comida do Amanhã Institute, as well as representatives from ICLEI South America.
Aware of the importance that the topic of food systems will have at the COP, LUPPA has prepared itself to bring its contribution to the discussions on food systems, based on the experience accumulated in the three editions of the laboratory and the recognition of its work in the 2023 State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI) report, produced by the United Nations to monitor the progress of SDG 2. This report recognized the laboratory as a successful experience in the search for solutions based on urban food systems.
Food systems, from food production to food consumption, occupy a central place in the COP discussions, especially considering that these systems are responsible for a third of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, according to the latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Even though they are part of the challenges to be overcome in the climate crisis, food systems are also negatively affected, which poses a threat to global food security.
In Brazil, this scenario is even more challenging, as food production is directly related to deforestation and is responsible for around 74% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to a study released by the Climate Observatory last October, 78% of Brazilian emissions from food production are caused by the beef production chain.
No action to mitigate, adapt to or reduce the climate crisis can be implemented in time to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement without taking into account the important role of food systems. They offer mitigation opportunities in crop and livestock production, with low-carbon agriculture, healthy and sustainable diets, balanced use of land and other natural commons for human needs, reduction of food loss and waste, among others. The greater ease of implementing these initiatives in the short and medium term, coupled with a lower cost and immediate benefits for human health and the environment, are some of the many advantages of investing in and prioritizing these discussions at COP 28 and in the resulting agreements.
The common demands between cities and the international community are gaining importance in this year’s COP program, which has a new feature. While the heads of state are meeting on December 1 and 2, there will also be a summit of more than 2,000 cities represented by their mayors. December 10 is reserved for the theme of food, agriculture and water.
On November 1st, a workshop was held with the aim of building a LUPPA position for COP 28. The representatives of the municipalities chose and debated three themes that they consider to be priorities for addressing the challenges and demands between the cities and the international community with regard to food systems. The first is on “Promoting urban and peri-urban agriculture and combating food loss in the Brazilian NDC”. The second theme concerns “Climate Adaptation, Food Security and Financing”. And the third theme deals with “Sustainable Agriculture allied to Food Sovereignty and Sociobiodiversity”.
RECOMMENDATIONS FROM LUPPA TO COP 28
The (Brazilian) Lab on Urban Food Policies – LUPPA is a collaborative platform and a continuous-learning program to support and facilitate cities to promote food policies with a systemic approach, in an intersectoral, coherent, and participatory way. In it, representatives from almost 50 municipalities in Brazil come together to work on building an integrated food systems agenda in their cities, covering a spectrum of policies ranging from fighting hunger to addressing climate emergency, including income generation, human rights, nutrition education, healthy food environments and sustainable regional development, as well as many other food policy issues.
A public policy laboratory responds to the need to increase the number of cities drawing up strategic long-term food policies and to accelerate transformative processes starting with local government and local governance. It also responds to the need to expand the sources of data and information on local food systems and their relevance to global transformations.
LUPPA was highlighted as a blueprint of innovative solutions in the United Nations’ 2023 State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI) report, that monitors the progress of SDG 2.
Currently in its 3rd edition, 43 cities from 18 states and all regions of Brazil are taking part in LUPPA, comprising more than 14 million inhabitants, as well as the support of 6 “mentor” cities – Belo Horizonte, Curitiba, Osasco, Recife, Salvador and São Paulo.
A program like LUPPA responds to the need to implement the “Race to Zero” and “Race to Resilience” campaigns, called for by the “UN Climate Change High Level Champions” and the “Marrakech Partnership” – a commitment mechanism for sub-national entities and non-state actors – and especially the Non-State Actors Call to Action for Transforming Food Systems for People, Nature, and Climate.
The following recommendations respond to the Calls to Action and Campaigns that aim to accelerate the transformation of Food Systems, with social justice and respect for the singularities of the Global South:
Recommendations for the International Community
I) Promoting urban and peri-urban agriculture and combating food loss and waste as a Brazilian commitment:
The international community must recognize that urban and peri-urban food production in ecological models is essential for the configuration of sustainable food systems, taking into account the benefits of promoting short food chains, producing sustainable and healthy food, generating income and reducing the carbon footprint of food production. International community and Member States must ensure that municipalities and local governments have the support to (i) develop public urban agriculture facilities for local food production, through urban gardens and the use of public spaces (gardens, flowerbeds, land), (ii) provide technical assistance, training activities, supply of tools, manufacture and donation of inputs (compost, plant seedlings, seeds) to local food producers, as well as (iii) public facilities for the reuse and reduction of food waste (food banks, public canteens). Finally, the Brazilian government shall recognize the reference to urban and peri-urban agroecology as a strategy for implementing the Brazilian NDC.
II) Climate Adaptation, Food Security and Financing:
In a scenario of ongoing climate change adaptation challenges, people’s food security depends on the adequate incentives given to food producers, especially small-scale producers or family farmers and traditional communities. These producers must not give up producing food. Action must be taken to prevent food losses and ensure food supply. The international community therefore needs to invest in six strategies: 1) family farmers’ secured access to water and land; 2) agroecological education, not only in terms of food production, but also in terms of consumption (food program menus and incentives for marketing agroecological, local, native, adapted foods), i.e. raising awareness of food education based on the need for climate adaptation; 3) fair remuneration for family farmers and incentives to mitigate the risk of food production amidst adverse climatic events, in particular harvest insurance mechanisms in the event of production losses (such as the Brazil federal government’s “Garantia Safra”); 4) minimum food processing facilities to reduce the risk of fresh food losses, by producing dehydrated fruits & vegs, pulps, flours, sauces, etc.; 5) cool food logistics to address the risk of loss due to rising temperatures; 6) co-financing and multi-level coordination among governments: a food security fund for municipal authorities management should be created to act in scenarios of extreme climatic events, co-financed by all levels of government, including international support.
III) Sustainable Agriculture combined with Food Sovereignty and Sociobiodiversity:
Brazil and other Member States must give incentives to agroecological transition of food production as an alternative to the current predominant model of conventional food production, since sustainable agriculture prioritizes the long-term maintenance of natural resources and productivity, with minimal negative impacts on the environment, bringing adequate returns to producers and healthy food for human well-being. To that, public policies aimed at environmentally sustainable agriculture and peasant agriculture shall be promoted, ensuring (i) funding for social technologies not based on the use of fossil-based inputs or agrochemicals, (ii) low taxation for fresh food and fair taxation for agrochemicals, (iii) tax incentives for family farming, (iv) food procurement of sustainable food production, (v) specific food outlets and public spaces for marketing local sustainable food production. All that aiming to ensure rural succession and knowledge transition to new generations of family producers. Food and nutritional security policies shall combine with environmental policies, encouraging an agro-ecological transition and family farming increase.
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Faced with such a serious and urgent scenario of a global climate crisis, and aware of the responsibility of government and civil society to prevent it from worsening, the main message taken to the COP 28 is:
“Brazil united in its diversity, on the road to a sustainable future. Food systems must be part of global solutions for the climate and humanity, and the international agencies and organizations that promote funding and cooperation in the context of climate change have a fundamental role to play in acknowledging such tematic convergence.”
Sub-national and local contexts shall be considered, through calls for proposals that take into account the logic of public policy systems and local projects. We are counting on you to win this battle!
LUPPA – Laboratório Urbano de Políticas Públicas Alimentares
Instituto Comida do Amanhã
ICLEI Governos Locais para a Sustentabilidade
Recommendations signed by
Instituto Fome Zero