TMG Think Tank for Sustainability
Blog Post

Insights from UNFCCC COP28 Side Events: Creating Inclusive Governance Solutions for Sustainable Food Systems

Two side events by TMG Research and WWF discussed how to get from declarations to implementation of effective food systems transformation.

by Lisa Maria Klaus | 2023-12-19

Insights from UNFCCC COP28 Side Events: Creating Inclusive Governance Solutions for Sustainable Food Systems
Manual Jaramillo sharing his experience on sustainable beef production in Argentina.

Numerous conferences highlight aspects of the transformation of our food systems, but recommendations often lack specific steps for implementation. At UNFCCC COP28 two side events by TMG Research and WWF sought to fill this gap and discussed the questions of who needs to transform what, at which level, and how to navigate effective governance for food systems transformation.  

Towards a multilevel-governance framework  

Alexander Müller, Managing Director of TMG Research, stressed the importance of a multilevel-governance framework for food systems transformation. He called for a shift from declarations to concrete actions and presented the ‘Agri-Food Systems Transformation Protocol’ – a concise decision support tool for developing transformation pathways. The protocol was developed by TMG Research together with a group of scientists and published in their latest report. Alexander Müller further pointed out that the current global food system benefits specific stakeholders, citing the substantial gains made by food commodity traders in 2023 despite the multiple crises that we face. He called for a new governance system with inclusive decision-making mechanisms to achieve the transformation and for creating alliances with like-minded actors from different sectors to work towards this goal.  

Speakers emphasized the need to translate global goals into local actions 

During the first panel discussion in the IICA Pavilion on 5 December, Marcella D’Szousa, Director of the WOTR Centre for Resilience Studies in India highlighted the importance of focusing on outcomes and involving communities in governance at the local level. Rosinah Mbenya, Country Coordinator of PELUM Kenya emphasized the centrality of smallholder farmers in solving the problems of our food systems and advocated for stakeholder platforms and national agroecology policies. Alessandro Cruvinel, Director of Innovation at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock in Brazil, highlighted Brazil's efforts in implementing low-carbon agriculture plans over the past decade and stressed the importance of governance, technology, and innovation. Trade, agricultural subsidies, and land tenure were identified as critical aspects needing more attention. Louise Baker, Managing Director of the Global Mechanism, UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) advocated for collaboration at the landscape level, involving various government departments and technology transfer. 

Alexander Müller presenting his keynote at UNFCCC COP 28.
Alexander Müller presenting his keynote at UNFCCC COP 28.

In conclusion, Martina Fleckenstein, Global Policy Director, Food, WWF International, emphasized the need for institutional innovation and a multilevel governance system for food systems transformation. She called for the debate to continue at the COPs of the three Rio Conventions in 2024.  

Discussions highlighted the complexities of governance and the diverse paths toward building inclusive and sustainable food systems 

During the second panel discussion on 10 December in the WWF Pavilion,  Rafael Arantes, Extraordinary Secretariat for Combating Poverty and Hunger, Brazil shared insights into CONSEA, Brazil's national council on food security and nutrition. Despite challenges, Rafael Arantes recommended replicating this model, citing its success in amplifying the voices of underrepresented groups. Nicole Pita, International Panel of Expert on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) raised concerns about the influence of transnational corporations on global food system governance. She highlighted IPES-Food's report on corporate interests in decision-making, emphasizing the need to democratize decision-making spaces. Wei Zhang, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) discussed successful governance mechanisms at the local level, drawing on the ‘living lab for people’ approach, part of the  CGIAR Research Initiative on Low-Emission Food Systems. Manuel Jaramillo, Director General, Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina, referred to governance efforts in Argentina, giving the example of the roundtable for sustainable beef and emphasized the importance of addressing power imbalances and transparency in stakeholder collaborations.  

Fleckenstein concluded the event by expressing hope for the integration of food systems into the Global Stock take’s outcomes and a strong message on food system transformation in the COP's final decision. As we know today, these expectations were not sufficiently fulfilled.  Overall, the panel discussion explored avenues to construct inclusive and sustainable food systems, considering power imbalances and strategies to overcome them. 

TMG will continue its work on the governance of food systems and launch another report in 2024, focusing on the linkages between sustainable production and consumption. Follow our work here

Learn more about our activities

Check out our different channels where we publish articles, videos, and analyses of global and local debates

TMG Think Tank for Sustainability consists of TMG Research gGmbH, an independent, non-partisan, non-for-profit organization registered in Berlin (District Court Charlottenburg, HRB 186018 B, USt.-ID: DE311653675) and TMG - Töpfer, Müller, Gaßner GmbH, a private company registered in Berlin (District Court Charlottenburg, HRB 177576 B USt.-ID: DE306832549).

Our main address is EUREF Campus 6-9, 10829 Berlin, Germany.

© 2024 TMG Think Tank for Sustainability. All Rights Reserved.