For the first time in 2022, food systems figured prominently at COP27, the world’s global convening on climate change, held last year in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. Food systems also moved up the nature agenda in the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) forged at COP15 Montreal, Canada, and signed by nearly 190 nations.

But time is not on our side. The world is skirting disaster, in no small part due to food systems that emit roughly 30 percent of global greenhouse gasses and are responsible for 90% of deforestation; and that produce diets responsible for one-in-five global deaths. Our global food system is also the primary driver of biodiversity loss, with agriculture directly threatening 86% of species at risk of extinction.

Neither does the current food system succeed in its most basic purpose: providing enough healthy food for all. Today, a global food crisis affects up to 828 million people who go to sleep hungry every day. More than 345 million people are suffering from or at risk of acute food insecurity, more than double the number from 2019.

But 2022’s global convenings bore fruit. This year’s COP28 is set to be “The Food COP” with agriculture and food an anchor for action. And the GBF’s ground-breaking commitment to conserve one-third of world’s oceans and terrestrial territories includes strong language about the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, sustainable and customary use of natural resources, their traditional knowledge, and free, prior and informed consent. Another breakthrough came in 2022 when the global community, aided by efforts supported by The Rockefeller Foundation Food Initiative, agreed on a landmark framework on Digital Sequencing Material (DSI) to ensure equitable and open access to food data.

Moving into 2023, our focus is on five key actions:

  1. Keep strengthening Koronivia. 
  2. Sharpen the food systems agenda. 
  3. Co-create a roadmap for food systems investment. 
  4. At COP28, create the guidance that farmers need. 
  5. Nature isn’t siloed. We shouldn’t be either.

Read the full article about food systems by Sara Farley at The Rockefeller Foundation.