Food security and climate change are interlinked and global agri-food systems are the climate solution, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, told heads of state and government reunited at the World Climate Action Summit in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE).

At the COP28 presidency’s first Leader’s Event focused specifically on food and agriculture, Qu expressed FAO’s support for the newly launched Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action, already endorsed by 134 countries.

“Implementation of the Emirates Declaration guided by the FAO Roadmap for achieving SDG2 while maintaining 1.5°C, are key instruments for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) targets under the Four Betters, leaving no one behind,” he said.

The roadmap, presented at COP28, captures the vast contributions that nations can make to building climate resilience, adaptation and mitigation, as well as food security, through solutions that only the agri-food sector offers.

FAO at COP28

The climate crisis is affecting the world’s capacity to produce sufficient food according to the FAO.

The various impacts on water, soil, biodiversity, and the frequency of extreme weather events are leading to increased food insecurity by diminishing crop yields, livestock productivity, and the potential of fisheries and aquaculture as food producers.

“We have to produce more with less. Agri-food systems must be transformed to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient, and more sustainable to effectively contribute to food availability, accessibility, and affordability, and to achieve all the SDGs,” Qu stated.

The Director-General highlighted that the solutions to help countries build resilience, adaptation, and mitigation, and achieve food security, already exist.

“But we need enabling policies to close the investment gap to ensure that climate finance is increased and reaches those who need it most, especially smallholder farmers,” he said.

While global climate finance flows have increased, support for agri-food systems lags behind other sectors, constituting less than 20% of climate-related development finance in 2021.

Qu stated that nations must ensure that the loss and damage fund that was historically set in motion on the first day of COP28 this week reaches the agricultural communities that are on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

Today, FAO launched a new report underscoring the escalating threat posed to the agri-food sector by climate-change induced loss and damage.


The Emirates Declaration officially launched during the World Climate Action Summit event, and supported by FAO, underscores the pivotal role of agriculture and food systems in addressing climate change and fostering shared prosperity.

It outlines objectives such as scaling up resilience efforts, promoting food security, and supporting workers in the sector.

It also highlights the importance of integrating climate action into agriculture policies and commits to inclusive engagement by 2025.

The signatories pledge to revisit policies, increase access to finance, accelerate innovations, and strengthen the multilateral trading system.

Collaboration and progress review are emphasised for COP29, with ongoing commitment beyond 2025.

Mariam Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates said: “This declaration is there to help galvanise the political will needed from countries across the globe to transform our food systems in the face of climate change.

“Today we celebrate a milestone moment in history for food systems and agriculture at a COP.”

Reaction to declaration

Meanwhile, the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-FOOD) has raised concern that the declaration contains “no legally binding commitments”.

It has welcomed the commitment by national governments attending COP28 to whole food system transformation by integrating food system action into national plans such as biodiversity strategies,

However, it claimed the declaration contains “vague language” is “missing conrete actions or targets” on food loss and water and that there is no “commitment to shift to healthy, sustainable diets”.

Lim Li Ching, co-chair of IPES-Food and senior researcher for Third World Network stated:
“It’s encouraging to see that food systems are finally taking their place at the heart of climate negotiations and at the highest levels of government.

“We cannot meet our global climate goals without urgent action to transform the industrial food system, which is responsible for one-third of greenhouse gas emissions and 15% of fossil fuel use.

“But while this is an essential first step, the language remains very vague – and specific actions and measurable targets are conspicuously missing – including shifting to healthy sustainable diets, phasing out fossil fuels, and reducing overconsumption of industrially produced meat.”