COP26 must put food systems on the agenda say NGOs, industry bodies and local councils

The UN COP26 climate talks held in Glasgow this year ‘must tackle food systems’ to get world on track for net-zero. 

More than thirty NGOs, leading academics, local governments and industry bodies have written to COP26 President Alok Sharma asking him to bump food systems up the agenda when the UK hosts the global climate summit in Glasgow in November. 

Glasgow City Council, Brighton and Hove, Scotland Food and Drink, RSPB, Sustain, the Soil Association, the EAT Foundation, GAIN and the ICLEI global local government network are among the signatories of the letter co-ordinated by Nourish Scotland. 

Pete Ritchie, Director of Nourish Scotland, says: “The road from Paris to Glasgow goes through the farm gate. We have to invest in the food and farming transition alongside the clean energy transition – and we have to start now.” 

Current food systems generate more than a quarter of global GHG emissions, and experts agree that net zero is unachievable without a transformation in what we eat, how we farm, and how much food we waste. 

Mr. José Graziano da Silva, former Director General of FAO & Director of Instituto Fome Zero in Brazil is clear that: “To implement the 2030 agenda, we need to rebuild the linkages between the urban and rural territories, intrinsically united by the food systems agenda. If we want to fight climate change, preserve natural resources, mitigate emissions and bring a commitment to the health of people and the planet and the sustainability targets, we need to definitively integrate the food systems with the climate agenda. 

Ensuring food security involves ensuring a careful and integrated approach between the different agendas, and COP 26 is an opportunity to pave this path.” 

The UK is making progress already on deforestation-free supply chains, on cutting food waste and on national food plans in all four nations. But food is not one of its current priority themes and as COP26 host and President the UK has an opportunity to show global leadership. 

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, leader of Brighton & Hove City Council, says: A third of the dangerous ‘greenhouse’ gases which are harming the environment come from food, so how we produce food, what we consume, and the level of food waste are central to our drive to be carbon neutral by 2030. 

I implore Alok Sharma, the President of COP26, to use this international platform to let world leaders know that not enough is being done to reduce the incredibly harmful impact of the current system of food production on the climate, and push for real change.” 

Councillor Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City which will host COP26, says: “The Glasgow message, as we head towards COP26, is that climate justice and social justice are inseparable. Social justice and social equity must be driven from climate action. And food is an enormous part of that”


For enquiries:

Sofie Quist and Pete Ritchie

(44) 07794 610148

Notes to editors:

Letter to Alok Sharma

Food system impacts on biodiversity loss: Three levers for food system transformation in support of nature

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Nourish Scotland is a charity focusing on food policy and practice. We work for a fair, healthy and sustainable food system that truly values nature and people.