Climate, biodiversity and nutrition are inextricably linked
The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development sees sustainable agri-food systems as an opportunity to protect the climate, preserve biodiversity and ensure food security in the future. Dirk Meyer, Head of the Directorate-General for 'Global health, employment, transformation of the economy, digital technologies, food and nutrition security' at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, looks ahead to the upcoming COP27.
These are very challenging times as we are facing overlapping crises that each exacerbate the other. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the disruptions and upheaval caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, progressing climate change and biodiversity loss are also contributing to exacerbating the food crisis. Many countries in the Global South are particularly affected. The COP27 must be used to develop integrated approaches for coping with these crises and adopting concrete measures to improve the situation. Coordinated and global efforts are needed, for instance to enhance the resilience of agri-food systems and alleviate the suffering of millions of people.
In order to tackle the acute food crisis, which is unfortunately getting worse, in May 2022, within the framework of the German G7 Presidency, the BMZ launched the Global Alliance for Food Security (GAFS) together with the World Bank. With the GAFS, the BMZ has created an initiative that enables flexible, immediate and coordinated assistance. Another aim of the GAFS is to mobilise and pool concrete financial and political commitments so as to push forward over the long term with the transformation of agri-food systems within planetary boundaries. Germany has also provided concrete food assistance. In 2021, the German government made 1.2 billion euros available for WFP; Germany was the second largest donor worldwide. The BMZ is making 476 million euros available for fighting the root causes of hunger and for measures to strengthen the resilience of vulnerable people.
With several pavilions addressing the topic of food and nutrition and a thematic block on “Agriculture and Food Systems” on Agriculture and Adaptation Day on 12 November, the topics of food and agriculture are more present than at any previous climate COP. The heads of state and government will also meet on 8 November to discuss the topic of food security. In the future, climate change, the protection, restoration and sustainable use of ecosystems and food security must be addressed and tackled jointly, using an even more holistic approach, with a particular focus on strict compliance with human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities. Nature-based solutions make a key contribution to achieving these goals simultaneously.
Against the backdrop of the dramatically worsening degradation of nature, the restoration of degraded ecosystems will be playing an increasingly important role for future food security.
At the conference, we will be highlighting the sustainable use, protection and restoration of forests and forest landscapes – because healthy forest systems are closely linked with the availability of food and income. This is partly due to their positive impacts on water cycles. Intact ecosystems are natural climate protectors. Forests and flood plains, soils and bogs, oceans and water bodies, semi-natural green areas in cities and rural areas are natural carbon sinks. They strengthen resilience and support the adaptation to climate change.
At COP27, the first results of the “CompensACTION for food security and a healthy planet” initiative, which was launched by the BMZ as part of the German G7 Presidency, will be presented. The aim of the initiative is to ensure that smallholders receive adequate compensation, through approaches such as Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES), for their positive contributions to environmental protection and the conservation of natural assets. A financing agreement with a volume of 15 million euros was concluded with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in order to pilot mechanisms for such compensation payments – in Ethiopia, Brazil and Lesotho. Now it is important that we move from theory to practice as soon as possible.
German development cooperation will be represented with a number of side events at COP27 to engage in in-depth discussions with government representatives, international organisations, the private sector and representatives of academia and civil society. The BMZ's priorities in Sharm El-Sheikh include launching the Global Shield against Climate Risks as a concrete contribution to solutions for dealing with climate-related loss and damage; hosting a side event on the transformation of agri-food systems in times of multiple crises with a special focus on the fertiliser crisis; playing an active part in the global discussion on nature-based solutions and the restoration of ecosystems; and hosting the water pavilion, which will put a strong focus on the key role of water for adaptation and resilience.
Gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment must be an inherent aspect of environmental protection and climate action and adaptation to climate change, in keeping with the implementation of a feminist development policy.
Women play an essential role when it comes to promoting food and energy security, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and protecting ecosystems. Societies where there is gender equality are more stable, more resilient to crisis and more sustainable.
Women remain underrepresented in the international climate negotiations; in 2022, the proportion of women in the UNFCCC bodies was only 39 per cent on average. This year’s COP27 can help to strengthen the voice of women in climate negotiations and move forward on gender-sensitive climate policies.
The BMZ is also closely accompanying the initiatives of the Egyptian COP presidency, including the Food and Agriculture for Sustainable Transformation Initiative (FAST). A shared goal that Germany and Egypt are both pursuing is improving access to climate finance for the transformation of agri-food systems, and giving clear consideration to the close linkages between climate action, water security and food security. Because the Egyptian population depends on the water of the Nile for their livelihoods, now and in the future.