Decision by COP28 Presidency sends out a clear call for global shift to climate-friendly diets

Food served at this year’s UN climate summit, COP28, will be “tasty, nutritious and affordable” as well as two thirds vegan and vegetarian food.

The confirmation this week from the COP28 catering team in Dubai follows months of collaboration between YOUNGO, the Youth and Children constituency of the UNFCCC, and Food@COP, a campaign within YOUNGO dedicated to ensuring COP events have climate-friendly catering. Supported by food awareness organisation, ProVeg International, the groups have sought to implement Food@COP’s vision that major climate conferences serve food that recognizes planetary boundaries and are in line with the Paris Agreement.

Dubbed the “1.5°C aligned menu”, the COP28 Presidency hopes to set a precedent for future summits and events all over the world by demonstrating that climate conscious catering can be served up, even at a huge event like COP.

Many elements from this week’s announcement mimic the text from the YOUNGO letter sent earlier this year, as well as Food@COP’s earlier requests for climate-friendly catering at COP26 and COP27. Besides the high percentage of plant-based foods, the implementation for sustainable catering at COP28 will also focus on 1.5°C alignment, inclusivity, waste, packaging, emissions labelling, and carbon budgets.

“The Catering Letter Steering Committee has worked very hard with the COP28 Presidency to ensure that the food is predominantly plant-based at this all-important summit. By committing to plant-rich, affordable catering, the COP28 Presidency is showing leadership and acknowledging the impact of diets high in animal-sourced foods. It is really fantastic to see this happening,” Lana Weidgenant, ProVeg campaigns and policy officer, said

Speaking to the significance of this effort, Food@COP and YOUNGO Food and Agriculture Working Group member Gloria Agyare said, “In this moment, hearing young voices and seeing their ideas come to life fills me with immense joy. As a young advocate from the Global South, it gives me great hope that youth are playing a vital role in shaping our future. I can’t wait to taste the food, knowing it’s a delicious symbol of our dedication to a climate-friendly tomorrow.”

Members of the Climate-Friendly Catering Letter Steering Committee, who have led this engagement with the COP28 Presidency, include: Alexis Balimann (Switzerland), Aya Mounir (Morocco), Caroline Wimberly (United States), Falk Hemsing (Germany), Gloria Agyare (Ghana), Joseph Niyomukiza (Rwanda), Lana Weidgenant (United States/Brazil), and Sharon Gakii (Kenya).

Eating within budget

An estimated 250,000 meals will be served to more than 60,000 visitors every day across nearly 80 outlets including food halls, grab and go stations, and food trucks across the site. 

The COP 1.5°C aligned menu is designed to enable delegates to eat within a daily food budget calculated to curb global warming to less than 1.5 degrees Celsius – the limit agreed under the 2015 Paris Agreement. 

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) already recommends a shift to more plant-based diets to make the food system more sustainable. Globally, agriculture accounts for about one third of global greenhouse emissions, with nearly 20% of emissions coming from animal agriculture. 

Food Systems at COP28

This year’s COP will have a strong focus on food with the first ever Food, Agriculture and Water Day and the publication of a “Roadmap to 1.5C” by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

The COP28 Presidency is also calling on governments to sign a Leaders Declaration on Food Systems, Agriculture and Climate Action and integrate food systems and agriculture into national climate agendas.

ProVeg International and partners will be on the ground at COP28 with a Food4Climate Pavilion. There will be several other pavilions dedicated to food and agricultural issues where YOUNGO and Food@COP will be active, including the Food Systems Partnership and Children and Youth Pavilion




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