Home » World Food Day » Why we have to make sure that food is on the COP27 debating table

Dr Emma Keller

Head of Sustainability, Nestlé UK&I

The food and agriculture industry is responsible for nearly a third of all carbon emissions and must be a major part of the solution to the climate crisis going forward.

If the world is serious about getting to grips with the climate crisis, agriculture and food production must feature more prominently in the debate.

The food debate

Ignoring the food system is simply missing a major piece of the pie. Perhaps it’s because food and agriculture is an incredibly complex, emotive and challenging subject, says Dr Emma Keller, Head of Sustainability, at Nestlé UK&I.

“For one, we have to eliminate — or significantly reduce — food waste globally, and we also need to have challenging conversations about what constitutes sustainable diets and the role of animal versus plant agriculture.”

Improving outcomes

Dr Keller says: “At COP26, there wasn’t a food or agriculture day, and it wasn’t mentioned in the official Glasgow Climate Pact – the key document coming out of the negotiations. Food and agriculture is clearly a missing part of the climate action puzzle.”

Nestlé attended COP26 and took part in a variety of events, contributing to numerous panel debates, as well as sponsorships.

“As the world’s largest food and drink company, it is important for us to be present to advocate for more ambitious climate change commitment, action and collaboration. We want to learn from others, share what we are doing and add our voice to some of the important discussions.”

Ignoring the food system is simply missing a major piece of the pie.

Role of the food industry

There are a number of things that food companies can do to reduce their emissions, insists Dr Keller.

Regenerative agriculture employs practices such as sustainable livestock management, soil protection, replanting trees and hedgerows. Farming in this way can put carbon back into the soil, enhance biodiversity and have wider benefits including improving farmer livelihoods and making the farm more resilient to flooding.”

Companies in the sector can also shift to using more reusable and recyclable packaging. “Our commitment is to make all of our packaging reusable or recyclable by 2025,” she adds. “We’re also looking at our operations and logistics.”

Expectations for COP27

The world has changed considerably since COP26. With the cost-of-living crisis and major supply chain disruptions we have seen, food security and supply chain resilience are more important than ever.

Dr Keller adds: “It’s absolutely critical that we build on the momentum achieved and take meaningful actions as we head towards COP27 in Egypt.”

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