Politics & Law

COP28 Set to Finally Address Food System for Climate Change, Catering Will Be “Predominantly” Plant-Based

COP28, the annual UN environmental summit taking place this year in Dubai from November 30 to December 12, will emphasize the imperative of a global dietary shift to combat climate change, representing the first time the event has addressed food system change as part of climate disaster mitigation.

Notably, unlike previous COP events, the COP28 Presidency has also committed to predominantly plant-based catering along with emissions labelling on food. Additionally, it will introduce a dedicated Food Day and mark the debut of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) roadmap to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

Furthermore, a coalition of NGOs will once again hold a Food4Climate Pavilion, marking the second time that COP has hosted the Pavilion, the only dedicated Pavilion to both alternative proteins and food system change. 

Juliette Tronchon at COP 27 event
Juliette Tronchon, Senior Policy and Public Affairs Specialist at ProVeg, image supplied

UAE’s support of plant-based

Host country, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is showing itself to be supportive of food system change, having officially welcomed the opening of the first plant-based meat factory earlier this year in COP’s host city, Dubai. Additionally, the Arab Times recently reported that 45 percent of respondents in a study amongst UAE consumers said they have replaced dairy with a plant-based meal or drink in the past twelve months.

In February of this year, in preparation for hosting the event, the UAE declared 2023 the “Year of Sustainability” with initiatives whereby citizens have been encouraged to adopt plant-based diets and waste less food. The public has also been urged to make further sustainable lifestyle changes, including avoiding fast fashion and conserving water.

© IFFCO

Food4Climate Pavilion

This year’s Food4Climate Pavilion will feature partners such as World Animal Protection, Upfield, Food Tank, The Jeremy Coller Foundation, Humane Society International, Mercy for Animals, FOUR PAWS, Compassion in World Farming, A Well-Fed World, Impossible Foods, The Changing Markets Foundation, Plant Based Foods Institute, The Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, YPARD, IAAS, YOUNGO Food & Agriculture, and ProVeg International. These partners will emphasize the significance of prioritizing alternative protein production over animal protein and addressing meat overconsumption in the Global North through presentations and discussions.

The  IPCC has already made clear, in the summary of its latest report, that a transition to plant-centric diets along with the promotion of cultivated foods are essential to meet internationally agreed climate targets under the Paris Agreement. 

“This is the first time we are having real discussions on food and agriculture at a COP summit,” Raphael Podselver, Director of UN Affairs at ProVeg International, said. “As a consequence, we expect real decisions to be taken so that we can unlock the potential of healthy, plant-rich diets and protein diversification, reducing emissions from food systems and improving food security.”

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