COP28: At climate summit’s first-ever Health Day, FAO highlights interconnected challenges of malnutrition and climate change

Dubai – Malnutrition and climate change are two of the greatest challenges currently facing humanity, the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), QU Dongyu, underscored today at a high-level side event on the sidelines of the UN Climate Conference COP28.

“We mark the first-ever Health Day at a UN Climate Change COP. We are witnessing a turning point for food security, food safety and nutrition at this COP28,” Qu told participants underscoring that the right to food is a human right.

Over 40 percent of the global population is highly vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis, and more than 3.1 billion people worldwide, accounting for 42 percent of the global population, were unable to afford a healthy diet in 2021. Nutrition and climate change are deeply interconnected, as extreme weather events put at risk the agrifood sector, food quality and availability.

FAO’s main message at COP28 is that transforming agrifood systems could drastically reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, protect natural resources, preserve biodiversity, and effectively combat climate change. Agrifood systems are solutions to climate-related challenges, ensuring the availability, accessibility, and affordability of nutritious foods for healthy diets on a global scale.

At the event, the President of Slovenia, Nataša Pirc Musar, also recognized the interconnectedness of climate and food security and stressed the responsibility to safeguard the climate to prevent conflicts and ensure food production.

“As a new member of the UN Security Council from the first of January, Slovenia is putting climate security and food security at the top of its agenda,” the President said, also announcing that her country is unveiling its biggest-ever development project, helping communities in fragile African transboundary areas to adapt to climate change through ecosystem restoration and beekeeping.

FAO’s work

The event also had the participation of Afshan Khan, UN Assistant Secretary-General and coordinator of the Scaling Up Nutrition Movement (SUN); Opeyemi Elujulo, World Food Forum Youth Policy Board member; and Vincent Loka, co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of WateROAM, Singapore.

FAO is currently collaborating with partners to present the advances of the Initiative on Climate Action and Nutrition (I-CAN) and its work to catalyse integrated actions that address the challenges of climate change and malnutrition simultaneously.

The COP28 side event also illustrated the progress made by the Food and Agriculture for Sustainable Transformation (FAST) Initiative and its operationalization into the FAST Partnership   

Youth-led country examples of integrated actions related to agrifood systems, water, social protection, and health systems, highlighted youth efforts to advance nutrition action in the context of a changing climate during an intergenerational dialogue with the FAO Director-General.

FAO’s Climate Action and Nutrition Report showcases actions that members and partners can take, including diversifying production, sustainable soil management, and reducing food loss and waste.

Source : Fao