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This briefing outlines five priorities for UK government action  – both bilaterally and as COP President – to support transformation action in the global food system in 2022.

The war in Ukraine has thrown into sharp relief the need for transformational change to the global food system. The impacts of climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic had already revealed the fragility of the global food system, with rising food prices and the numbers of people facing hunger increasing, particularly over the past two years. As global food and fertiliser prices continue to rise, and the Ukraine crisis leads to market volatility, the impacts will be felt most heavily in low-income countries, especially those reliant on food imports. Women farmers make up about 43% of the agricultural labour force in the Global South and face additional barriers to respond to these shocks.

While a short-term response is needed to stabilise global food supplies and prices, this is an opportunity for longer-term reforms to address food insecurity and build local economies that are better able to withstand future shocks. The international community must support low-income countries to invest in their own agricultural sectors, to increase their own food production, and to build local, environmentally sustainable approaches to production that are climate resilient.

Five measures of success for UK action on international agriculture in 2022

  1. The UK government’s International Climate Finance prioritises agroecology to tackle poverty and support communities to adapt to climate change.

  2. No more UK aid flows to agricultural programmes that harm the environment or fail to show their impact on tackling poverty.

  3. Countries report concrete progress at COP27 on their commitments under the Glasgow Leaders Declaration on Forests and Land Use, including redesigning agricultural programmes and subsidies, and increasing land tenure for indigenous peoples and local communities.

  4. New initiatives to support agroecology and repurpose harmful agricultural subsidies are announced as part of COP27, including Agroecology Transition Partnerships.

  5. The Global Biodiversity Framework to be agreed in Kunming supports the role of agroecology in poverty reduction, climate action and biodiversity protection.

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Fix the food system

The global food system is broken. It doesn’t work for those who work the hardest – small farmers – and it’s a major driver of the climate emergency.