COP28: Director-General QU Dongyu launches new FAO report on loss and damage highlighting need for innovative solutions

Dubai – On the sidelines of the UN Climate Conference COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu unveiled a new report that highlights the escalating threat of climate change-induced loss and damage to agrifood systems.

The new report follows a significant breakthrough at COP28, where world leaders agreed to operationalize the Loss and Damage Fund, one of the main outcomes of COP27. The fund, designed to tackle the impacts of climate change, has already garnered substantial financial support, with several countries pledging a total of approximately $300 million.

The Director-General welcomed the decision and lauded the efforts of the Egyptian COP27 and the Emirati COP28 presidencies for their attention and fast results on this pressing issue and underscored the urgent need for ambitious mobilization of finance to transform agrifood systems.

“We need to upgrade our farming systems to produce more with less, to have more quantity with fewer inputs and less negative impacts on the environment,” he told a high-level panel reunited at COP28’s Food Pavilion.

Despite a decade of efforts to adapt and build resilience in agrifood systems, climate shocks and events have continued to inflict substantial damage, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable communities.

The new FAO analysis delves into a thorough examination of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and reveals that approximately one-third of existing climate action plans explicitly acknowledge the concept of loss and damage. This underscores the increasing importance of the issue globally, with agriculture singled out as the most profoundly affected domain.

The solutions are there

The Director-General emphasized that with better data, tools, financing, and political commitment, the agrifood sector could achieve better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life for all. He called for innovative agrifood solutions based on sustainable and resilient practices.

Highlighting the importance of innovation and technology, Qu Dongyu further explained that there are already measures to align loss and damage actions with the conservation, restoration, and sustainable management of natural resources and ecosystems.

Embedded within its Strategic Framework 2022-31, encompassing the Climate Change Strategy, Science and Innovation Strategy, and corresponding action plans, FAO is actively assisting countries in implementing climate solutions.

For example, FAO supports national policymakers in climate-focused decision-making through initiatives like the Climate Risk Toolbox and the Early Warning Early Action system.

FAO is actively engaged in the development of energy-smart agrifood systems, aiming to enhance the utilization of sustainable energy through innovative, green energy solutions, concurrently amplifying production and income. Noteworthy initiatives, such as the installation of solar-powered water pumps and solar panel-driven boreholes in regions like Yemen and South Sudan, exemplify FAO’s commitment to helping farmers sustain agricultural production amidst a changing climate, ultimately fortifying resilience, livelihoods, and profits.

In regions like Azerbaijan, investments in charcoal briquettes derived from hazelnuts are anticipated to yield significant environmental benefits, saving more than 42,000 tonnes of CO2eq/year, showcasing the transformative potential of energy-smart innovations.

The Director-General also highlighted the importance of addressing food loss and waste as a triple-win opportunity– benefiting the climate, enhancing food security, and ensuring the sustainability of agrifood systems. The substantial quantity of lost and wasted food, amounting to 8-10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, could feed billions of people annually.

Qu further emphasized how the recent World Food Forum (WFF) held in Rome in October, which brought together over 5,000 in-person participants marked a significant step toward transforming global agrifood systems under the theme “Agrifood systems transformation accelerates climate action”.

As part of the Hand-in-Hand investment forum at WFF, FAO showcased investment opportunities designed to implement the FAO Science and Innovation Strategy and address climate change. A total of 110 investments, designed to benefit over 149 million beneficiaries, were unveiled, with more than $15 billion in agrifood investment opportunities showcased.

The high-level event at COP28 was also attended by Dr Johan Rockström, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; H.E. Ahmed Irfan Aslam, Minister for Climate Change and Environmental Coordination of Pakistan; Dr. Abdullahi Khalif, Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Somalia. Ms Sarah Hanson, Youth Indigenous People First Nation representative; and Dr Mizan R. Khan, Deputy Director of International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD).

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