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Ugandan to Champion “Slow Food” At Climate Change Conference :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Ugandan to Champion “Slow Food” At Climate Change Conference

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Mukiibi is of the view that Food-focused strategies are currently missing from the climate plans of over 70% of countries.
28 Nov 2023 16:08
Edward Mukiibi studied agronomy at the University. He says it’s important to discuss the benefits of adopting a regenerative approach: permaculture, regenerative agriculture, agroecology. Courtesy Photoa regenerative approach: permaculture, regenerative
A Ugandan, Edward Mukiibi pushing for food sovereignty is suggesting the transformation of global food systems as part of the fight against global warming. Mukiibi, the President of Slow Food President will be among the global; civil society actors that will be participating at the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP28 —taking place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from 30 November to 12 December. 

As much attention focuses on debates over decarbonization and funding for loss and damage, Mukiibi and a group of campaigners from other countries are determined to ensure that countries align food systems with climate and biodiversity goals by including boosting nature-friendly practices in farming.

Mukiibi is of the view that Food-focused strategies are currently missing from the climate plans of over 70% of countries, and yet such plans are crucial to shifting away from industrial methods of food production and towards more sustainable ways of farming or agroecology.  

“This would not only protect the planet but also help address the roots of hunger, create jobs, improve health, and protect biodiversity,” argues Mukiibi. A key agenda item at COP28 is the first ‘Global Stocktake’ of progress under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

That, to Mukiibi, is an opportunity to further showcase the role of agroecology in tackling climate change.  “Even if we appreciate the official recognition of the role food plays both as a driver and also as a solution to climate change, Slow Food will be closely monitoring the COP28 debates and their conclusions,” he said

This is the second COP that Slow Food is dedicating a pavilion on food and food systems after COP27 in Egypt.   “The organization will check which solutions are being proposed for an urgent food system transformation and if governments will take the opportunity of the Paris Agreement stocktaking moment to revise national climate plans to include food systems with a holistic approach,” reveals Mukiibi.

Studies have found that Food systems cause up to a third of all greenhouse gas emissions as well as contributing to climate change. Many agricultural practices pollute and degrade ecosystems, and directly harm biodiversity.  This time around, the COP28 official schedule had dedicated 10 December to food and agriculture. The COP28 presidency is asking governments to sign the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action.  

The negotiators are expected to address the impacts of food systems on nature by “conserving, protecting, and restoring land and natural ecosystems, enhancing soil health, and biodiversity.” Mukiibi points out that the ‘Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action’ includes neither concrete measures nor targets to effectively transform food systems nor clarifies what more sustainable food systems should look like.

”According to Slow Food, a sustainable food system based on agroecology is not just a set of agricultural practices but a vision that focuses on biodiversity, ecosystem conservation, and the skills and needs of communities. “This is the first COP following the IPCC's 6th Assessment Report, “which unequivocally stated that we have to act now or it will be too late and which stressed again how the food system, in general, could be producing as much as 35% of global greenhouse gas emissions.”       

How industrial food systems are driving climate change.     

The modern industrialized agrifood model adopted over the last 50 years has had a devastating impact on the global climate and the environment, leading to pollution, soil erosion, scarred landscapes, reduced energy resources, and an overall loss of both biological and cultural diversity. Under this model, agricultural production has morphed into agro-industry or agribusiness. 

The two hallmarks of the system, namely the increased use of oil-derived or oil-based inputs such as fertilizers, pesticides, and fuel for farm machinery and the production of monocultures, primarily to produce animal feed, have had severe consequences on the environment and jeopardized the economic survival of small-scale farmers. 

In this model, natural resources are considered nothing more than raw materials to be consumed and exploited on a massive scale, putting our health and the environment at risk.   Big meat and dairy companies are responsible for a particularly high percentage of emissions. 

During the COP28 debates, attention will have to be focused on them as they will likely try to suggest high-tech solutions or greenwashing techniques to hide their responsibilities. Indeed, many potential solutions will be presented at COP28 and we can expect a battle over different visions of farming.