Slow Food: COP26 addresses agriculture but focuses on false solutions

After two days of discussion on “Nature and land use”, the session which included the issue of sustainable agriculture, ended today at Cop 26.

Slow Food believes that the very approach to this issue was wrong: to talk about sustainable agriculture without considering the food system as a whole is wrong. The proposed solutions that emerged seemed to go in two different and distinct directions, presented as complementary: reforestation on the one hand and technological innovation in agriculture on the other.

However, it has been shown that the only approach that can effectively contribute to the construction of a truly sustainable food system is that of agroecology: it must be recognized as a central tool to face the multiple crises we are facing, including the climate crisis: agroecology is rooted in the reconstruction of relations between agriculture and the environment, and between food systems and society.

We are witnessing the recycling of an old model, which continues to consider food as a series of commodities to be produced on a large scale, with monocultures assisted by futuristic technologies that will make farmers increasingly dependent on large multinationals and their patents. To shift our global economy to a low-carbon model, the authorities want to continue to follow the corporate rhetoric on high-tech, centralized industrialized agriculture and fake meat.

Marta Messa, Director of Slow Food Europe, commented: “One of the events of the COP today was on” the acceleration of a just rural transition towards a sustainable agriculture “. For us, a just transition must be based on biodiversity, agroecology and social justice – and not on techno-fixes. Climate change and biodiversity loss must be tackled together, they are closely related issues. And she adds: “Agricultural ecosystems must be restored in harmony with the natural environment. Tech fixes are a bogus solution, they are not based on the real innovations that communities come up with to be resilient. We want to see binding commitments and no empty promises by the end of COP26”.

Shane Holland, executive chairman of Slow Food in UK also comments: “Industrial meat and dairy agriculture is responsible for a huge amount of methane emissions, and intensive agriculture more generally generates large amounts of carbon.”. He adds: “The big groups offer industrial agriculture as a savior, when they are the cause. There is also a message that we need to scale up agriculture to provide an insurance policy against crop failures – this is unacceptable, especially considering that to date we are wasting 30% of the food produced. for human consumption, a waste which in turn worsens the climate crisis. Governments seem unable to escape the influence of multinational corporations and are unable to adopt truly sustainable solutions, which already exist but need to be promoted and supported on a large scale.

Jorrit Kiewik, executive director of SFY Network shared his impressions of a COP divided between optimism and mistrust. “The COP was an incredible experience. It’s great to be here but there are a lot of doubts. We see two parties: at the pavilion a lot of energy to turn things around while at the same time we see a lot of protests outside with Greta Thunberg really rallying a lot of support for anti-COP26 as it is claimed as a large green washing machine. . Right now I have a bit of doubts whether this is good progress or not, especially after talking to some officials who claim that we are currently at 1.8 degrees, which could be great but still not enough ” .

In order to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, COP26 should pave the way for the transition to agroecological food systems, where evidence shows they maintain carbon in the soil, support biodiversity, rebuild soil fertility and maintain yields over time, providing a basis for agricultural livelihoods and healthy diets for all.

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Slow Food International Press Office

Paola Nano – [email protected] (+39) 329 8321285

Alessia Pautasso – [email protected] (+39) 342 8641029

Slow food is a global network of local communities founded in 1989 to counter the disappearance of local food traditions and the spread of fast food culture. Since then, Slow Food has grown into a global movement that involves millions of people in over 160 countries and works so that we can all have access to good, clean and fair food.

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About Walter Bartholomew

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