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Nations and businesses commit to shift to sustainable agriculture and land use

Governments and businesses are joining farmers and local communities at COP26, securing new agreements to protect nature and accelerate the shift to sustainable agriculture and land-use practices by making them more attractive, accessible, and affordable than unsustainable alternatives. Alongside the events marking "Nature and Land Use Day", November 6 marked the end of week one, with negotiations gathering pace and work focussing on week two in Glasgow, Scotland.

“If we are to limit global warming and keep the goal of 1.5 C alive, then the world needs to use land sustainably and put protection and restoration of nature at the heart of all we do. The commitments being made today show that nature and land use are being recognized as essential to meeting the Paris Agreement goals, and will contribute to addressing the twin crises of climate change and biodiversity loss. Meanwhile, as we look ahead to negotiations in week two of COP, I urge all parties to come to the table with the constructive compromises and ambitions needed,” COP26 President, Alok Sharma said (photo courtesy COP26 Media Services).

Twenty-six nations set out new commitments to change their agricultural policies to become more sustainable and less polluting, and to invest in the science needed for sustainable agriculture and for protecting food supplies against climate change, laid out in two ‘Action Agendas’.

All continents were represented, with countries including India, Colombia, Vietnam, Germany, Ghana, and Australia. Examples of national commitments aligned with this agenda include:

  • Brazil’s plan to scale its ABC+ low carbon farming program to 72 million hectares (ha), saving 1 billion tonnes of emissions by 2030;
  • Germany’s plans to lower emissions from land use by 25 million tonnes by 2030;
  • The UK’s aim to engage 75 percent of farmers in low carbon practices by 2030;
  • The UK also announced funding of £500 million to support the implementation of the Forest, Agriculture, and Commodity Trade (FACT) Roadmap that was launched during the World Leaders Summit earlier this week, in which 28 countries are working together to protect forests while promoting development and trade. A further £65 million will support a  ‘Just Rural Transition’ to help developing countries shift policies and practices to more sustainable agriculture and food production.

Commitments made by countries will also help to implement the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use which is now endorsed by 134 countries including Brazil, China, Russia, and Indonesia, and covers 91 percent of the world’s forests. Launched on November 2, 2021, the Declaration aims to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.

The World Bank will commit to spending US$25 billion in climate finance annually to 2025 through its Climate Action Plan, including a focus on agriculture and food systems.

In a show of similar commitment from the private sector, almost 100 high-profile companies from a range of sectors committed to becoming ‘Nature Positive’. Commitments include supermarkets pledging to cut their environmental impact across climate and nature-loss and fashion brands guaranteeing the traceability of their materials.

Representatives from Indigenous and local communities participated in events throughout the day. As stewards of 80 percent of the world’s remaining biodiversity, Indigenous Peoples are leaders in how to develop nature-based, resilient, and effective solutions to climate change.

Nature day also follows the announcement on Ocean Action Day on November 5, 2021, of over ten new countries signing up to the ‘30by30’ target to protect 30 percent of the world’s ocean by 2030. These were: Bahrain, Jamaica, St Lucia, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, India, Qatar, Samoa, Tonga, Gambia, and Georgia.

The target is now supported by over 100 countries.

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