Farmers Take the Stage at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference

November 30, 2023

Despite current challenges and divisions throughout the world, business leaders, climate scientists, young people, farmers, journalists and many more are putting aside potential differences to build bridges and accelerate global climate progress. 

Solutions from the Land (SfL) is honored to be among the 70,000 member state representatives, delegates and observers attending the United Nations’ 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. SfL representatives and our partners will be present for the two-week event, Nov. 30 through Dec. 12, 2023.

“Solutions from the Land and our partners are working hard to position agriculture as not just the sector that provides fuel, food and fiber, but the sector that delivers on other global challenges,” says SfL President Ernie Shea. “Agriculture plays a critical role in food security, improving water quality, stimulating rural economic development and addressing climate challenges.”   

The event, also known as the United Nations Climate Change Conference, is the “world’s only multilateral decision-making forum on climate change.” Attendees will discuss progress toward the Paris Agreement and measures still needed to fill existing climate action gaps. Such gaps include collaborating on ways to help vulnerable communities deal with immediate climate impacts. 

As Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, COP28 President-Designate, highlighted in his Pre-COP Opening Ceremony, the upcoming conference is a reminder for all that, “the risks will continue to keep growing if we keep kicking the can down the road.” 

“If we succeed in coming together now, we have a huge opportunity in front of all of us,” Sultan says. “We can reimagine entire economies and put every nation on the path to a prosperous and sustainable future.” 

Sultan, along with fellow speakers from the host country of the United Arab Emirates, will drive messages of food system transformation and climate change during the presidency track. The other two tracks will include policy negotiating and knowledge sharing.  

“Climate impacts food insecurity and it’s a major problem,” Shea says. “So during COP28, there’s a merging of food system transformation with climate action that the presidency track is focusing on.”

SfL’s Involvement in COP

SfL has been attending United Nations Climate Change Conferences since 2009 which began at an offsite event focused on agriculture during COP15. There, SfL teamed up with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and other agriculture stakeholders urging COP leaders to provide a seat at the table for agriculture as an untapped solution to the issues at hand.  

“For us (SfL), when we go to COP, we do not enter the conference with the sky is falling mentality,” Shea explains. “We go in with a Climate Smart Agriculture framework – talking about ways we as an industry can provide sustainable intensification of production, adaptation and improvements of resiliency, and how farmers are delivering mitigation services such as renewable fuels and carbon sequestration along the way.” 

Shea and his SfL cohorts will serve as observers during the policy negotiating sessions, introduce stakeholders to pivotal industry voices, as well as facilitate three knowledge-sharing track events at the Sustainable Agriculture in the Americas Pavilion. Presentations include:

  • Strengthening collection, analysis and use of agriculture and food system data for SDG Attainment – Saturday, Dec. 2 at 10 a.m.
  • Circular Bioeconomy Systems for Concurrently Delivering Agroecosystems Services and Food & Nutrition Security – Monday, Dec. 4 at noon 
  • Biofuels and Circular Economy: A Roadmap to Net Zero – Monday, Dec. 11 at 1:30 p.m. 

In addition, SfL delegation members will be speaking at county and other stakeholder events over the course of the conference. 

“I think agriculture is on a higher plateau this year,” Shea says. “The world’s agreement to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2050 cannot be achieved unless agriculture is enabled to participate and deliver solutions. That’s why we are going.”

Shea says these conversations are not meant to lead to regulation or new rules farmers are meant to operate by, but rather these conversations are meant to give a voice to the often voiceless and hopefully provide new ways the industry can be assisted in delivering solutions to climate and other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

During the COP28 Send-Off Event on Nov. 29, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack and SfL Co-Chair Fred Yoder, among others, spoke about the importance of the coming days and provided those gearing up for COP28 with final messages of advice and gratitude. 

“Creating those commitments, understandings, partnerships, (and) developing relationships will not only advance the benefits and opportunities of this COP but (they) basically advance climate smart practices across economies,” Vilsack says. “The work that you’re doing can’t be any more important than the survival of humankind – which is what you’re really all about. The work you’re doing to try to mitigate the consequences of the climate we know is changing, (and we’re) trying to make sure the temperature increases stay hopefully within that 1.5º Celsius that was set.”

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An Agricultural Renaissance, led by innovative and entrepreneurial farmers, ranchers and foresters constructing sustainable, profitable and resilient systems that lay the foundation for a world of abundance on many scales capable of producing nutritious food, feed, fiber, clean energy, healthy ecosystems, quality livelihoods, and strong rural economies.