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At COP28 governments must agree how to transform food systems


Food systems are a significant contributor to climate change and fragile to its impacts – but transforming them is even more divisive than transforming the energy sector.

This year’s international climate change conference, COP28, will be the first such conference to have a major focus on food, which the UAE as COP28 president sees as important aspect of its agenda. 

This is long overdue: food systems are responsible for about a third of all greenhouse gases produced by human activity. Modern farming methods are the most significant drivers of biodiversity loss. In turn, the world’s ability to provide healthy diets (‘food security’) is threatened by the impacts of climate change, with severe weather like storms and drought affecting the ability to produce and transport food.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine have also emphasized the global food system’s lack of resilience, and how easily events drive up food prices.

The World Bank estimates that high food prices are widespread across the world, affecting 52 per cent of low-income countries, 89 per cent of lower-middle-income countries, 61 per cent of upper-middle-income countries and 67 per cent of high-income countries. 

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