Leading policy efforts to address the food-climate nexus
After more than a century of industrialisation, deforestation and large-scale agriculture, the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which are responsible for global warming, have risen to the highest levels in the last three million years. If GHG emissions continue to increase at the current rate, global warming is likely to reach 1.5 ºC between 2030 and 2052. Worryingly, the probability that the annual mean global temperature will be 1.5 ºC warmer in the next 5 years is 20%, and this figure is increasing with time with the risk of exceeding the threshold of irreversibility. The emissions associated with the world’s agri-food system (including production, processing, packaging, transportation and distribution of food) are between 21% and 37% of the total net anthropogenic GHG emissions. A shift to plant-based diets, sustainable and locally sourced foods, and a reduction of food waste can greatly contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Climate change can be mitigated by changing how we eat. Over 70% of the world’s food production is consumed in cities. Local agri-food systems are thus essential for climate action, and can prevent food vulnerability and enhance food justice to ensure access to sufficient, sustainable, healthy and nutritious diets for all. Cities are at the forefront of cultural and social change, and key players in the implementation of local food policies for climate action, going beyond what national governments are doing and proposing. Working together with the citizens and supra-municipal authorities, a change on agri-food systems can reduce by 15% the global GHG emissions of cities. The year 2021 has been of fundamental importance to promote healthy and sustainable food systems to address the climate emergency. An ambitious roadmap linked the United Nations Food Systems Summit to COP26 and the Glasgow Food and Climate Declaration to the 7th Global Forum of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact in Barcelona from the 19th to the 21st of October, which have put cities in the spotlight. It is deeply embedded in this international context that we have presented The Barcelona Challenge for Good Food and Climate.
The Barcelona Challenge is a tool for cities and their citizens, pioneers in climate action, to publicly proclaim their food policy commitments and their impact on climate change. It is a way of putting into practice the recommendations of the Glasgow Declaration, expanding on the proposals of the C40 Good Food Cities Declaration and takes place within the framework of the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact. All of which are essential processes and milestones to progress local food policies at the global level.
2022 is also considered a strategic year to catalyse and make visible municipal food policies for climate action. The 8th MUFPP Global Forum, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) from 17th-19th October, will be an ideal platform to present the food policy proposals of cities committed to The Barcelona Challenge. In addition, the COP 27 UN Climate Change Conference to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt) from 7th-18th November, will be key in the development of the international strategy for mitigation and adaptation to the climate emergency and The Barcelona Challenge aims to bring its proposal to the discussions.
The Challenge is promoted by Barcelona City Council, Red de Municipios por la Agroecología (Municipalities for Agroecology Spanish Network) (Spain), the Milan Urban Food Policy Pact, C40, Terres en villes (France) and Sustainable Food Places (UK).
It hopes to lead the global efforts of cities and put the food-climate nexus at the heart of decision-making at COPs, the UN’s Food Systems Summit, and beyond.