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December 8, 2023

Editor’s note: COP28 – new hope for greener food systems?

Crop harvesting
Food production is responsible for about a third of greenhouse gas emissions, though it has been marginal in COP discussions so far (Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg)

The latest edition of our Sustainable Views newsletter

Dear reader,

With COP28 dedicating today to “youth, children, education and skills”, we wanted to share the thoughts of some young participants at this year’s summit.

Whether climate activists or part of big, global businesses, the young people we spoke to all called for greater representation of their peers, including in official talks. 

But, if you were in need of a mood boost as we enter the second half of COP28 talks, I found it reassuring to hear the youth haven’t lost faith in the UN climate process – not yet, at least, and despite the still inadequate emissions reductions achieved by previous COPs, and the growing and “overwhelming” presence of oil lobbyists.

As negotiations continue over the weekend, with a focus on nature tomorrow, and with Sunday being designated as “food, agriculture and water day”, we thought it useful to share some more reading on the context in which those discussions will take place.

After interviewing The Wildlife Trusts’ Rob Stoneman about nature solutions, Philippa takes a deep dive into the highly consequential, very political and still little discussed food and agriculture systems.

Food production, with all its components, is responsible for about a third of greenhouse gas emissions. Yet it has so far been marginal in COP discussions. Recent announcements and upcoming formal negotiations may turn things around. But there is a lot of ground to cover, figuratively and literally. 

As an economist told Philippa: “I don’t think the climate community has been great at working with farmers to come up with solutions. It isn’t the same as telling people to ride their bike more; we have to incentivise farmers and recognise this is their livelihood.”

Our briefings on key COP28 announcements have been popular. You can find all the round-ups so far here, including our latest dispatch about yesterday’s discussions on the sideline of the summit’s “day of rest”.

We’ll have a fresh briefing ready for you before Monday’s newsletter hits your inbox.

And because national policymaking continues outside COP, you may also want to catch up on the latest ESG news from around the world.

Before I sign off, below you will also find a few other very popular articles, plus a suggestion from the team.

Have a good weekend,


Silvia Pavoni is the editor of Sustainable Views 


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