Planting the Seeds for Food Systems Change


Food systems and agriculture are finally starting to receive the attention they deserve at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP). At this year’s COP28, agriculture will be discussed in the “Sharm el-Sheikh joint work on implementation of climate action on agriculture and food security” (SSJW) negotiations, and several events are planned outside of the official negotiations, including the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action. 

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has a long history of giving voice to the concerns of smallholder farmers in the regions of the world most vulnerable to climate change. This policy brief reviews some of the critical issues at stake in the upcoming COP28 negotiations pertaining to smallholder agriculture in developing countries. CRS urges leaders to make strong progress towards several key outcomes, including the following: 

  1. COP28 must recognize the important role that community-driven nature-based solutions have for reversing degradation and promoting climate change adaptation. 

  2. Countries’ National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) need to prioritize actions that will support the resilience of the smallholder sector and acknowledge the important role that local communities play in environmental management. 

  3. SSJW should present a clear roadmap and timeline for taking concrete steps to address agriculture and food systems with a focus on aiding smallholder farmers. 

  4. The Loss and Damage Fund needs to quickly provide funds to countries. Quick assistance to farmers can assist in the recovery process. 

  5. The Emirates Declaration on Resilient Food Systems should commit unequivocally to transforming food systems based on sustainable and agroecological principles.

COP28's focus on agriculture and food systems is certainly welcomed by CRS. Building agricultural resilience is crucial for developing countries since this economic sector is a major source of employment, food security, and contributes to reducing poverty. Consequently, promoting the transformation of agriculture and food systems has the potential to improve the lives of millions of farmers and their families.

Published December 2023