Friday, November 11 – Food Tank

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I’ll be honest: I was moved to tears yesterday speaking to the young activists who are the future of our global food system.

Yesterday was Youth Day here at COP27. I expressed the need to respect the voice of those who will inherit the future of the food system. And thankfully, they are making their voices heard more powerfully than ever.

“I want world leaders to treat the climate crisis as a crisis,” said Vanessa Nakate, a Ugandan climate activist and founder of the Rise up Climate Movement. Nakate and others have created a video explaining to leaders what they want to see from COP27. I encourage you to watch it on Twitter HERE.

To shine a light on the role of young people in sustainable food systems, Food Tank’s own programming here at #FoodCOP27 started yesterday. I moderated a panel in partnership with the World Farmers Organization titled “The Future is Now: How to Unleash the Potential of Young Farmers for Sustainable Future Food Systems”. We heard from Roy Steiner of the Rockefeller Foundation; Arnold Puech d’Alissac and Khoushbou Sewraj, both of the World Farmers’ Organization; and Dr. Mark Smith of the International Water Management Institute; with Xiye Bastida, a young activist from the Otomi-Toltec indigenous community and the Re-Earth Initiative, and Ayisha Siddiqa, a young Pakistani climate justice activist from Polluters Out.

Here at COP27, there is a youth pavilion for the first time. Youth delegations have taken their advocacy to the UN in monumental fashion. But it is not enough to simply invite young people to these events. Our young leaders need to be involved in serious discussions with policy makers, they told me during yesterday’s panel, “if we really want to save the world”. None of us know everything, and the youngest among us are the first to admit it. But they need to have access to mentorship. They need financial investment in resources. They need elders to respect them.

Speaking with these incredible young leaders, as I mentioned, I was overwhelmed with emotion. I was particularly inspired by how Ayisha, Xiye and Khoushbou described the transformation that required activism, advocacy and real leadership. Change will come, Ayisha told me, when we formulate our ideas in love.

Here are some other important takeaways from the COP27 negotiations and discussions:

As mentioned, this COP is unique in its focus on food and agricultural issues, which are attracting global attention. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, for example, plans to launch an initiative this year to tackle on-farm emissions as part of the urgent need to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. . FAO deputy director Zitouni Ould-Dada told Reuters about the agency’s plans.

The COP negotiations also put pressure on world leaders. The US has been reluctant to take meaningful domestic action, and European leaders have called on President Joe Biden, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – who appeared at the COP – and others. Writing in The New York Times, Rachel Kyte, dean of the Fletcher School of Diplomacy at Tufts University, said:

“I hear African leaders say, ‘We have always understood that the Congress is difficult. But do the American people not understand what is happening to the planet? ,” Kyte told the newspaper.

Today is another big day here at #FoodCOP27. Right now I’m on my way to the food and agriculture pavilion to lead a discussion with WWF about Koronivia’s joint work on agriculture and more broadly why we need to expand the mandates of organizations civilians to achieve better results for the climate, people and nature. It starts at 8:30 a.m. EET today (1:30 a.m. ET Friday morning, 10:30 p.m. PT Thursday night), with Alice Ruhwezadirector of WWF Africa; HE Dr Yasmine FouadEgyptian Minister of the Environment; HE Fridolin Besungu Cardinal AmbongoArchbishop of Kinshasa, Maria Helena Samedo the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; Mercedita Sombilla the National Economic Development Authority of the Philippines; and Javier Mateo Vega CGIAR and CIAT.

This afternoon, at 3:00 p.m. EET (8:00 a.m. ET, 5:00 a.m. PT) as an UNFCCC side event, I will be moderating a series of conversations on managing climate risks and the externalities that arise from the system eating. We will speak with Zitouni Ould Dada FAO; Jerome Remmers the TAPP Coalition; Roy Steiner the Rockefeller Foundation; Helena Wright the Jeremy Coller/FAIRR Foundation; Marc Gough of the Coalition of Capitals, Jeremy Coller Coller Capital; Gunhild Stordalen from EAT; Ertharine’s cousin future food systems; and Berry Martin of Rabobank.

Later in the evening, I will join Resilient Cities Network, Media RED and the Rockefeller Foundation for a private screening of “Food 2050”. The film points a camera at 10 of the world’s most optimistic and daring visionaries seeking to heal the planet and our bodies. During the screening, I will moderate a panel with Tom Leaching of Media RED, Sarah Farley of the Rockefeller Foundation, Rupa Maryadoctor and author of “Inflamed”, and Matt Wilson of the Sicangu Food Sovereignty Initiative. And then, at a reception with a menu by a famous chef Bobby Chinnwe will hear Lauren Sorkin the Resilient Cities Network; Rania al-Mashatthe Egyptian Minister for International Cooperation; Rajiv Garodia Visa; Liz Ye the Rockefeller Foundation; and Inger AndersenExecutive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme.

What I think about as the COP27 negotiations continue:

  • Data shows that fossil fuel lobbyists outnumber almost all national delegations here at COP27, underscoring how loud our voices for change must be. There are over 600 fossil fuel industry lobbyists here, more than the number of people here representing the ten countries most affected by climate change and 25% more than last year’s COP. (Read more on Euronews).
  • Our colleagues at the Rockefeller Foundation, however, are working to shine a light on Indigenous and regenerative practices at COP27 with over $11 million in grants. This funding will go to organizations working globally on these traditional and sustainable practices. “Continuing to rely solely on conventional approaches cannot generate the profound changes needed to improve food systems,” said Roy Steiner, senior vice president of the Food Initiative at the Foundation. (Read more HERE).

Powerful quotes from today’s talks:

  • “It’s still a very intellectual discussion to say that young people should get into farming. How? Where do they start? And investing in extension services must be one of the most important [things].” — Wanjira Mathai, Managing Director for Africa and Global Partnerships at the World Resources Institute
  • “What I want more from leaders at this COP is for them to really include young people as stakeholders, not just as tokens.” — Xiye Bastida, youth activist from the Otomi-Toltec Indigenous Community and the Re-Earth Initiative

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Photo courtesy of Patrick Mcgregor, Unsplash

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