Forty-five governments, led by the UK, have pledged urgent action and investment to protect nature and shift to more sustainable ways of farming at the COP26 Nature and Land-Use Day.
Approximately one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, forestry and other land-use – creating an urgent need to reform the way we grow and consume food in order to tackle climate change.
Countries from across the world will set out their commitment to transform agriculture and food systems through policy reforms, research and innovation in order to reduce emissions and protect nature, whilst securing food and jobs. This includes leveraging over US$4 billion of new public sector investment into agricultural innovation, including the development of climate resilient crops and regenerative solutions to improve soil health, helping make these techniques and resources affordable and accessible to hundreds of millions of farmers.
This commitment includes a pledge to support internationally agreed “Action Agendas” which set out steps that governments, farmers and others can take through policy reform and innovation to deliver the changes necessary for sustainable food systems. Sixteen countries will launch a “Policy Action Agenda” and more than 160 stakeholders will join a “Global Agenda for Innovation in Agriculture” to lead the way on the global transition towards climate resilient agriculture and food systems to more sustainable ways of farming.
As part of the Prime Minister’s commitment to spend at least £3 billon of International Climate Finance on nature and biodiversity, the UK will launch a new £500 million package to help protect five million hectares of rainforests from deforestation, an area equivalent to over 3.5 million football pitches. The funding will create thousands of green jobs, including in sustainable agriculture and forestry, throughout rainforest regions and generate £1 billion of green private sector investment to tackle climate change around the world.
Environment Secretary George Eustice said: To keep 1.5 degrees alive, we need action from every part of society, including an urgent transformation in the way we manage ecosystems and grow, produce and consume food on a global scale. We need to put people, nature and climate at the core of our food systems. The UK government is leading the way through our new agricultural system in England, which will incentivise farmers to farm more sustainably, create space for nature on their land and reduce carbon emissions.
“There needs to be a fair and just transition that protects the livelihoods and food security of millions of people worldwide – with farmers, indigenous people and local communities playing a central role in these plans.”
As holders of this year’s G7 and COP26 Presidency, Nature and Land-Use day will build on the Government’s promise to lead both the UK and the nations of the world to build back greener, secure a global net zero and keep 1.5 degrees within reach.
In a landmark step, almost 100 high-profile UK companies will agree to work towards halting and reversing the decline of nature by 2030 and commit to getting ‘Nature Positive’. This includes OVO Energy announcing its commitment in planting one million trees in the UK within the next year and Severn Trent pledging to restore over 2,000 acres of peatland across England and Wales by 2025. Burberry has also unveiled a new biodiversity strategy, which includes the assurance that all its key material will be 100% traceable by 2025, for instance, through sourcing more sustainable cotton, leather and wool, as well as recycled polyester and nylon. Commitments also include a pledge by Co-op, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose to cut their environmental impact across climate, deforestation and nature in a ‘Retailers Commitment for Nature’ with WWF.
New UK funding to the CGIAR (formerly the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research) the world’s leading agricultural science and innovation organisation, which will create and scale new crops and technologies yielding climate, nature, health, gender and economic impact (£38.5m over two years). Funding will support the development and deployment of:
*Crop varieties that are climate-resilient (more resistant to heat, drought and flooding) and more nutritious (with elevated levels of essential micronutrients);
*agricultural practices that are more productive, sustainable and climate-resilient;
*new livestock varieties, diagnostics and management practices, which reduce the risks faced by pastoralists and livestock keepers;
*Foresight and trade off tools for risk management of, and resilience to, major threats emerging from the food system, including anti-microbial resistance and emerging zoonotic diseases;
* on better policies to help poor farmers use new technology to access markets, reduce risks and increase incomes.
Private Sector Action:
The CEOs of Co-Op, M&S, Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose have joined forces to sign WWF’s ‘Retailers Commitment for Nature’ in which they commit to cutting their environmental impact across climate, deforestation and nature and leading the way for the whole food retail sector to halve its overall impact on the natural world by 2030. The supermarkets have committed to take action across seven areas – climate change, deforestation, sustainable agriculture, sustainable diets, marine, waste and packaging.
Picture caption: Environment Secretary George Eustice.