Domenico Vito, Osservatorio Parigi

Food systems has been a great debated topic in COP27 and actually the final decision from COP27 landed on having a new framework for managing climate action in agriculture.

This article will explore the main open topics related to food systems and how this topic has been debated in COP27 reaching the Shar

1. The core of the debate on food systems 

Food systems and agriculture are a crucial point into the discussion on sustainability and climate change.  It is connected to almost one third of global GHG emissions as demonstrated by a joint work between FAOSTAT and JRC[2]

In 2015, six top emitting economies with individual contributions larger than 6% to the global total GHG emissions from the food system were responsible for 51% of our estimated global food-system total[2]. 

Such data can lead to understanding how important it is to lead a transformation of food production and consumption. 

In industrialized countries, the contribution of the downstream energy-related sectors (53%), which includes industry and waste, was larger than the land-based sector, while in developing countries agriculture and LULUC were the dominant fraction (73%).

On this extent also the impact of livestock farming is crucial.

Scientific consensus shows that animal agriculture is responsible for at least 16.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions and causes significant environmental degradation, from biodiversity loss to deforestation[3].

So in a scenario where the rising pressure of worsening climate change and other stressors, notably the war in Ukraine and the COVID-19 crisis, the discussion on how the food system can become a powerful ally in achieving a more sustainable future become central.

From an economical point of view, transforming the world’s food systems could also generate $4.5 trillion annually in new economic activity and help to create a net-zero, nature-positive world, while also ensuring social justice and food security. As the world’s largest and most dynamic agrifood innovation ecosystem[4]. 

Inside the UNFCCC negotiations, the role of food production and its impacts has found a very dedicated space into the so called Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture.

Let’s see more in deep what it is.

2. Looking back: the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture

The Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA) represented an important step forward in the negotiations on agriculture with the UNFCCC and emphasized the importance of agriculture and food security in the climate change agenda.

It was approved during COP23 by the decision 4/CP23 and it commits the UNFCCC bodies (the SBSTA , Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technology Advice, and the SBI, Subsidiary Body for Implementation) to jointly address issues related to agriculture, including through workshops and expert meetings, working with constituted bodies under the Convention and taking into consideration the vulnerabilities of agriculture to climate change and approaches to addressing food security [5].

The KJWA will address this actions in a programmed and facilitated way standing to a precised roadmap as represented in Figure 7.

The KJWA  has represented the instruments and methodology on how agriculture adaptation becomes part of state policies.
The adopted roadmap provides for in-session workshops on each of the six topics and listed in Decision 4/CP.23. Here are literally reported:

a) Modalities for implementation of the outcomes of the five in-session workshops on issues related to agriculture and other future topics that may arise from thiswork;

b ) Methods and approaches for assessing adaptation, adaptation co-benefits and resilience;

c) Improved soil carbon, soil health and soil fertility under grassland and cropland as well as integrated systems, including water management Figure 7- The KJWA roadmap (Source [6])

d) Improved nutrient use and manure management towards sustainable and resilient agricultural systems;

e) Improved livestock management systems;

f) Socioeconomic and food security dimensions of climate change in the agricultural sector

Of course Koronivia serves to facilitate the integrate agricultural policies to Paris agreement commitment.

The adoption of the Paris Agreement not only reiterates the need to ensure that food production is not threatened while reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but also recognizes the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger, as well as the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the impacts of climate change.

As a matter of fact, in communicating their [Intended] Nationally Determined Contributions,Parties gave considerable importance to the agriculture, land use, land-use change and forestry (LULUCF) sectors- FAO analyzed 89 percent of countries’ mitigation contributions cover agriculture and/or LULUCF.

In addition, among the 131 countries that included priority areas for adaptation and/or adaptation actions related to the agricultural sectors in their (I)NDCs, 97 percent refer to crops and livestock[6].

These numbers shows a intended commitment from Parties to implement adaptation and mitigation measures that recognizes the importance of the agricultural sector for a global response to climate change.

As such, the party-driven process of NDC implementation and action can inform discussions under the KJWA by highlighting needs, gaps and opportunities in the agriculture sector.

On the other side, the KJWA has served to translate into more ambitious adaptation and mitigation contributions at the national level as Parties are requested to submit the next round of NDCs by 2020.

3.  Results from COP27 

The COP27 summit in Egypt has been historical by including food, rivers, nature-based solutions, tipping points and the right to a healthy environment in an overarching COP “cover decision” for the first time.

Furthermore it signed the launch of a new work program to follow implementation of climate action on agriculture and food systems: the Sharm-el-Sheik work program

After a 4-year cycle of workshops the outcomes of the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture were presented at COP27.  

The discussion than went around on what to do with the result of Koronia. 

Under the COP of implementation , the decision went under the a new brand program of 4 years to implement Koronivia results.
This means in practice fostering collaboration between countries, UN bodies and organizations to work on what is important in agriculture.

A list of priory need and measured has been assessed to influence the climate action also outside the UNFCCC. 

A comprehensive food system approach has been proposed to work on the impacts of the whole food chain.

The new plan wants to link to national plans and strategies to improve NDCs.

A long discussion and very conflictual has been done in order to achieve a permanent body for agriculture under UNFCCC, but this was in a way a discarded element.

More in deep the decision recognises the vulnerability of global food systems to the adverse effects of climate change, other global challenges and the limited progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. 

It further recognises that issues relating to soil and integrated water management, are county-specific and it promotes a holistic and inclusive approach in contributing to food security, adaptation and its co-benefits as well as enhancing carbon sink.

The implementation phase of Koronivia includes[8]:

  • Delivery of annual synthesis reports
  • In-session workshops
  • Establishment of the Sharm El-Sheikh online portal for sharing information on implementation
  • A call for contributions: Parties and observers are invited to submit views by March 27, 2023, on the elements of Koronivia, on topics for the workshops and on the operationalization of the portal for consideration by the subsidiary bodies at their 58th sessions (June 2023).
  • The land sector: a game changer for a net zero CO2, adaptation, biodiversity & food 

Land is a critical resource for food, water and health.  

Taking into account the overlapping challenges – desertification, land degradation, food security, biodiversity, ground water stress and water quality – is essential to implement diverse mitigation actions, that come with co-benefits and trade-offs. 


  5. UNDP (2017) ALIGNING NATIONALLY DETERMINED CONTRIBUTIONS AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS: Lessons Learned and Practical Guidance Available at: 9Nov.pdf Accessed on 2019
  1. The Koronivia joint work on agriculture and the convention bodies: an overview


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