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UK leads 45 govts in new pledges to protect nature, keep 1.5 alive

Forty-five governments, led by the UK, on Saturday, November 6, 2021, in Glasgow pledged urgent action and investment to protect nature and shift to more sustainable ways of farming at the COP26 Nature and Land-Use Day.

Climate Ambition Summit
British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson. Photo credit: Freddi Mitchell / No 10 Downing Street

Approximately one-quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture, forestry and other land-use – creating an urgent need to reform the way we grow and consume food in order to tackle climate change.

Countries from across the world set out their commitment to transform agriculture and food systems through policy reforms, research and innovation in order to reduce emissions and protect nature, whilst securing food and jobs. This includes leveraging over $4 billion of new public sector investment into agricultural innovation, including the development of climate resilient crops and regenerative solutions to improve soil health, helping make these techniques and resources affordable and accessible to hundreds of millions of farmers.

This commitment includes a pledge to support internationally agreed “Action Agendas” which set out steps that governments, farmers and others can take through policy reform and innovation to deliver the changes necessary for sustainable food systems.

Sixteen countries launched a “Policy Action Agenda” and over 160 stakeholders joined a “Global Agenda for Innovation in Agriculture” to lead the way on the global transition towards climate resilient agriculture and food systems to more sustainable ways of farming.

As part of the Prime Minister’s commitment to spend at least £3 billon of International Climate Finance on nature and biodiversity, the UK launched a new £500 million package to help protect five million hectares of rainforests from deforestation, an area equivalent to over 3.5 million football pitches. The funding will create thousands of green jobs, including in sustainable agriculture and forestry, throughout rainforest regions and generate £1 billion of green private sector investment to tackle climate change around the world.

Environment Secretary, George Eustice, said: “To keep 1.5 degrees alive, we need action from every part of society, including an urgent transformation in the way we manage ecosystems and grow, produce and consume food on a global scale.

“We need to put people, nature and climate at the core of our food systems. The UK government is leading the way through our new agricultural system in England, which will incentivise farmers to farm more sustainably, create space for nature on their land and reduce carbon emissions.

“There needs to be a fair and just transition that protects the livelihoods and food security of millions of people worldwide – with farmers, indigenous people and local communities playing a central role in these plans.”

The UK also outlined a range of new funding commitments from the £3 billion fund for nature, including:

  • Nearly £25 million out of the £150 million from BEIS’ Mobilising Finance for Forests (MFF) programme will be invested to develop sustainable supply chains in tropical countries
  • An investment of over £38 million into a new global research initiative through the world’s leading agricultural research organisation, the CGIAR (formerly the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research), to address the climate crisis and protect nature while advancing gender equality, poverty reduction, and food and nutrition security
  • The UK will contribute up to £40 million of international climate finance to establish the Global Centre on Biodiversity for Climate. The Global Centre will address critical research gaps in how the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity can deliver climate solutions and improve livelihoods in developing countries

The UK also launched a £65 million Just Rural Transition support programme to help developing countries move towards more sustainable methods of agriculture and food production. This will include support to ensure that farmers are included in policy-making processes, including through consultations, trials and pilot programmes for new technologies and approaches.

The UK announced its support for the US/UAE-led Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4C) which will mobilise over £4 billion of new global public sector investment in agricultural innovation, research and development over the next five years with contributions from over 30 countries for public and private sector as well as knowledge partners.

These new partnerships will help accelerate adoption of more climate resilient and sustainable agriculture practices to deliver healthy diets, improve the trade in agricultural goods, contributing to a healthier planet and a more prosperous future.  

UK Clean Growth, Energy and Climate Change Minister, Greg Hands, said: “If we are to keep the 1.5 degrees target in reach, we need to work with other nations to halt global deforestation, investing in the sustainable trading of commodities that will help communities thrive, while protecting our planet for generations to come.

“Backed by a £500 million package of support, today’s historic UK commitment at COP26 will help protect millions of hectares of land, boosting rural communities and forest-friendly businesses, while creating thousands of green jobs across the world’s rainforest regions.”   

  Justin Adams, Executive Director, Tropical Forest Alliance, World Economic Forum, said: “The FACT Dialogue process has created new momentum – from 28 countries – to work on issues of trade, forests and finance in an integrated way. Bringing these governments together – from the global south and north – to tackle the issue of commodity production and deforestation head on is a very significant development. Continued dialogue after COP26 will be critical to progress.”

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