COP24: ‘Planetary health’ helps connect the dots on agriculture

21 December 2018

© Barbara Ogrodniczak

Photo: Barbara Ogrodniczak

At the closing session of the Agriculture Advantage 2.0 event series at COP24, participants and keynote speakers including Sam Bickersteth, Executive Director, Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health joined together to discuss stepping up action to drive a transformation within global food systems.

The event aimed to bring together the different areas of action for transforming food systems discussed in the series and identify other areas needed for a true systems approach. Sam Bickersteth’s opening presentation discussed the interconnection between agriculture, climate change and human health within the framework of ‘planetary health’. He addressed the close relationship of food systems to carbon and methane emissions, water and sanitation, antibiotic use, equity and so to human health.

“When we look at planetary ill health, there are multiple interconnections. Land use, agriculture and food systems sit at the heart of future planetary health,” he stated. He also called for better monitoring and evaluation, reformed subsidies, taxes and regulations, and international collaboration of state and non-state actors to accelerate finding solutions.

This framing provided useful context for the rest of the discussion which ranged across issues including female and youth empowerment in food systems, the role of fisheries, finance and soil decarbonisation. Speakers included representatives from the World Bank, New Zealand Government, CCAFS, WorldFish and the World Farmers Organization.

With no silver bullet answers to climate change and food security, the final output from the event was clear: all sectors will have to work together to achieve the global goals for mitigation and adaptation, and to feed a growing population. Considering the wider context of planetary health is beginning to play a key part in this cooperation towards a more sustainable and healthier future.