Coming into COP27 commenters hoped this would be the food COP. COP27 did not meet these expectations, but there still were many firsts and movement on the Koronivia Joint Work Program on Agriculture. Before, during, and after COP27 I have been thinking about how food systems fit into the UNFCCC.
Before coming to COP27 I researched blue foods, aquatic fish, plants, and algae, as part of a partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund to help with their Food Systems Pavilion. I researched how blue foods could fit into a country’s Nationally Determined Contributions under the Paris Agreement because investing in blue foods can provide opportunities for climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Moreover, gearing up for COP27, parties and observers began agenda setting for negotiations around the Koronivia Joint Work Program on Agriculture. Koronivia is a formal UNFCCC workstream dedicated to agriculture and climate change. It was first established at COP23 and involved a series of workshops on a variety of issues including nutrient use, water, livestock, adaptation, and food security. The workshops finished ahead of COP26, but delegates at COP26 could not come to a decision about the future of Koronivia, so they pushed the decision to COP27.
At COP27 for the first time there was a Food Systems Pavilion along with four other food related pavilions. At the Food Systems Pavilion the organizers hosted a full two weeks’ worth of events exploring food and climate change from many different angles. I assisted with an event on blue foods and climate change. This event helped contextualize the work I completed before COP and brought together diverse panels to talk about opportunities and challenges with this issue.
Additionally. the COP Presidency hosted an Agriculture Day for the first time in COP history. Delegates began Koronivia negotiations, and this agenda item took up the most formal negotiating time during the first week of COP27. The organizers of the Food Pavilion and 100 organizations signed an open letter advocating for a new mandate for Koronivia focused on a food systems approach to agriculture with sustainable food production and discussions of nutrition and diets amongst other ideas. During the negotiations delegates split, with the G77 plus China wanting the whole food systems approach removed and the UK, France, and Switzerland advocating for this approach.
Koronivia negotiations continued until the last minute, and it was the only agenda item where there were interventions during the closing plenary. Nevertheless, the parties finally adopted the text. It includes a four-year plan on agriculture and food security along with an initiative to increase financing to transform agriculture by 2030. Organizers of the Food Systems Pavilion were disappointed at the ultimate Koronivia text, but remained hopeful after so many firsts at COP27. The final text did not reference food systems and did not contain interventions like nutrition and dietary shifts. Despite these shortcomings from the COP27 decision text, COP27 pushed food to the forefront and hopefully will galvanize more work on food and climate change.