COP28: FAO spotlights agrifood systems’ potential to address climate impacts and achieve 1.5°C goal

From a world leaders’ declaration on food and agriculture to a new FAO global roadmap to eradicate hunger while keeping 1.5°C alive, COP28 witnessed momentum to transform agrifood systems

Delegates meet for the World Climate Action Summit at a plenary Room at COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.



Rome/Dubai- Agrifood systems solutions are climate solutions and increased collaboration and finance are needed if the world is to achieve the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals.

The message, spearheaded by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and its partners resonated over the past two weeks at the UN Climate Conference (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. From negotiation rooms to high-level plenary hall meetings, a dedicated pavilion and over 200 events focused on food and agriculture, the importance of transforming agrifood systems was highlighted throughout the global meeting.

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu led a delegation of high-level officials and experts from relevant FAO streams contributing solutions to climate action. Rising to the occasion, FAO launched a series of significant reports including a new Global Roadmap process to eradicate hunger and keep the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement alive.

Here are some of the highlights:

A leaders’ declaration to be fast-tracked into implementation through a collaborative coalition

“Global agrifood systems are the climate solution,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu told the World Climate Action Summit, held right at the beginning of the conference, setting the tone for the Organization’s message at COP28.

At the event, the United Arab Emirates presidency launched the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action, now endorsed by over 150 countries and supported by FAO. The non-binding Declaration emphasizes the transformative potential of agriculture in responding to climate change and ensuring global food security. The signatories commit to integrating agriculture and food systems into their climate action, adopting inclusive policies, securing finance, promoting innovations, and strengthening international trade.

Qu told the Summit that the Emirates Declaration, guided by the new FAO Global Roadmap on achieving SDG2 without breaching the 1.5C° threshold, are key instruments for achieving the SDG targets under the Four Betters, leaving no one behind.

The FAO roadmap process, presented at the first-ever UN-climate-COP Food, Agriculture and Water Day, is aimed at eliminating hunger and all forms of malnutrition without exceeding the 1.5°C threshold set by the Paris Agreement. It outlines a comprehensive strategy spanning the next three years that encompasses a diverse portfolio of solutions across ten distinct domains of action: clean energy, crops, fisheries and aquaculture, food loss and waste, forests and wetlands, healthy diets, livestock, soil and water, and data and inclusive policies.

At COP28, FAO was also announced as a founding member of the Technical Cooperation Collaborative (TCC) led by a group of international organizations and governments to channel financial support and kickstart the implementation of the Emirates declaration.

“FAO is proud to help steward the Collaborative and join hands with partners and countries to accelerate action on this historic Declaration,” the Director-General has said.

To further support the agriculture and food security track of the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change (UNFCCC), the COP28 UAE Presidency, CGIAR,  the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Bank announced the creation of the Agrifood Sharm-El Sheikh Support Program, a three-year initiative to facilitate dialogue and knowledge sharing among global and regional policymakers. The program aims to drive consensus within the UNFCCC process – a track that did not achieve a full outcome in Dubai - and ultimately enable countries and regions to unlock finance and support for farmers, food producers, small agribusinesses and local communities. The support initiative also forms a vital bridge between the official programme and the Declaration.

The Global Stocktake

Much attention at COP28 focused on the Global Stocktake, one of the pillars of the Paris Agreement. At a high-level event with heads of State and Government last week, QU Dongyu highlighted the crucial role of agrifood systems in climate change adaptation. Emphasizing the opportunities across crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries, and aquaculture, he stressed that sustainable practices could also mitigate the impacts of extreme weather events, such as droughts and floods, while fostering resilience in agricultural communities.

The final Global Stocktake decision text – the main outcome of the climate talks - mentions the safeguarding of food security, ending hunger, mitigating vulnerabilities in food production linked to climate change, and protecting water systems. It also encourages the implementation of integrated, multisectoral solutions, such as land use management, sustainable agriculture, resilient food systems, and ecosystem-based approaches.

Food and agriculture are also mentioned on the final text of the Global Glasgow–Sharm el-Sheikh work programme on the global goal on adaptation, which urges countries to attain climate-resilient food and agricultural production and supply and distribution of food, as well as increasing sustainable and regenerative production and equitable access to adequate food and nutrition for all.

Loss and damage

The breakthrough agreement reached by world leaders to operationalize the Loss and Damage Fund at the very start of COP28 was one of the early successes of the conference, a decision commended by FAO Director-General. In support of this critical track, FAO launched a report on the escalating threat of climate change-induced loss and damage to agrifood systems, emphasizing the need for immediate actions and increased financing to address vulnerabilities.

The FAO study, analyzing Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), revealed that agriculture is perceived as the most severely impacted sector, with one-third of climate action plans explicitly addressing loss and damage.

The need for financing for agrifood systems and the launch of the FAST partnership

Through a new analysis, FAO warned about the significant decline in climate finance allocated to agrifood systems, jeopardizing their pivotal role in addressing climate change, biodiversity loss, and food insecurity. The report highlights that, despite the urgent need for increased funding to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement and the Emirates Declaration, contributions to agrifood systems dropped to $19 billion in 2021, marking a 12 percent decrease from the previous year.

FAO is working to help address the financing gap through the Food and Agriculture for Sustainable Transformation Partnership, known as FAST partnership.

This multi-stakeholder initiative aimed at addressing the insufficient availability and access to climate finance for agrifood solutions to climate change was officially launched during a High-Level Event convened on Food, Agriculture and Water Day at COP28.

Originating as an initiative by the COP27 Presidency, FAO has been tasked with operationalizing FAST to enhance the quality, quantity, and access to climate finance for sustainable agricultural transformations globally. The partnership, now open to membership from both developing and developed nations, serves as a connecting bridge between climate-related finance for agriculture priorities and discussions at COPs, aligning with the Emirates Declaration.

Finding new paths to mitigate livestock emissions

Another important FAO contribution to COP28 was a new report that emphasizes the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from global livestock systems due to the increasing demand for terrestrial animal products and a growing world population.

The report suggests multiple mitigation options that address both the supply and demand aspects of livestock sectors. These pathways include improving animal health, adopting better breeding practices, reducing food loss and waste, and directly targeting greenhouse gas emissions.

The findings, subjected to peer review, reveal that livestock systems accounted for about 12% of all anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions in 2015. Without interventions and productivity gains, global livestock emissions are projected to reach nearly 9.1 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent by 2050.

A report on restoring mountain ecosystems

In line with the theme of this year’s International Mountain Day, FAO and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) published a report at COP28 entitled “Restoring mountain ecosystems” which analyses 10 mountain ecosystem restoration projects and recommends how the UN Decade’s Ten Principles for Ecosystem Restoration can be applied to mountain ecosystems.

The report underlines that mountain ecosystems – and the millions of rural people who depend on them - are under threat and particularly vulnerable to climate change and spells out what needs to be done to preserve and restore mountain ecosystems through case studies from around the world.

New financing for fisheries management

FAO and the government of Norway unveiled a new five-year phase of the EAF-Nansen Programme. The partnership, dating back to 1975, involves FAO, the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad), the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) in Norway, regional fisheries organizations, and 32 partner countries in Africa and the Bay of Bengal.

Norway will contribute a budget of 1 billion NOK (almost $94 million) for the period 2024 to 2028. The renewed phase aims to intensify efforts to enhance food and nutrition security in partner countries, with a heightened emphasis on strengthening fisheries management to address the impacts of climate change.

A technical report on flood management

In an effort to address the challenges posed by flooding in rural areas, FAO launched the technical report 'Integrated flood management for resilient agrifood systems and rural development'. The report provides a comprehensive perspective on the impact of flooding in rural areas and proposes integrated solutions that offer multiple long-term benefits for people and nature. The recommendations set out in the report aim to improve flood resilience in rural areas.

New FAO collaborations and partnerships

During his visit to COP28, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu sealed collaborative partnerships by signing three crucial MoUs during COP28:

Italy: Strengthening collaboration on climate action in agriculture, the MoU between FAO and the Government of Italy focuses on supporting global, national, and local climate actions and promoting the implementation of the FAO Strategy on Climate Change 2022-2031 and Action Plan 2022-25.

AIIB: The MoU with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) centers around boosting rural infrastructure development for transforming agrifood systems. Both organizations commit to exploring opportunities for collaboration on digital solutions, climate resilience, and addressing social development needs.

WTO: The MoU with the World Trade Organization (WTO) reinforces collaboration on agrifood trade and food safety. It broadens the partnership across agrifood systems, trade, fisheries, climate, environment, and nutrition, with a special focus on women’s economic empowerment.

FAO also launched a Partnership on Water-Resilient Food Systems that will seek to address the critical interdependencies between soil health, water cycles, and food production, processing, and transportation.

Another noteworthy launch was a new guide to implementing the One Health Joint Plan of Action. The publication by FAO, UNEP, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organization for Animal Health (WOAH) provides practical guidance on how countries can adopt and adapt the plan of action to strengthen and support national One Health action.

Similarly, a new COP28 Agriculture, Food and Climate National Action Toolkit for National Adaptation Plans and Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), was presented. The taskforce comprised of FAO, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the NDC Partnership, Climate Focus and the Global Alliance for the Future of Food—with the support of the German government—, will provide guiding principles for governments to enhance their climate policy frameworks.

Events on different streams

FAO co-hosted the Food and Agriculture Pavilion along with IFAD, CGIAR and the Rockefeller Foundation, leading events and providing technical advice to member countries, both within and outside the official negotiation process.

The Organization also led, co-led and participated in several side events including:

Agrifood systems transformation to achieve triple wins: For people, for climate and for nature

FAO-IAEA Joint Centre’s work on nuclear techniques in food and agriculture amid climate crisis

Resilient and healthy mountain systems as key to climate change adaptation and mitigation

The role of finance and science in agrifood systems for transformation and prosperity in Africa

Fighting Antimicrobial Resistance

The Interconnected challenges of malnutrition and climate change

Ecosystem restoration to combat global warming, biodiversity loss and food insecurity

Scaling up inclusive climate action through private sector engagement in agriculture and land-use

Solutions on how to Accelerate Transformative Adaptation Action in the Agriculture and Land-use Sectors

Importance of working together with partners in Pakistan’s Living Indus Initiative


Laura Quinones FAO News and Media [email protected]

FAO News and Media (+39) 06 570 53625 [email protected]