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SUN Movement Call to Action for COP28: A unified demand for climate-resilient nutrition in global negotiations

November 28, 2023 - Last update: November 30, 2023

In the face of an unprecedented challenge

As we gather at COP28, the world is witnessing an alarming convergence of climate change and malnutrition. This crisis is not a distant threat. It is our current reality, especially for the most vulnerable in low-income countries.

The statistics are stark: reduced nutrient availability between 2030 and 2050 due to the impacts of climate change is projected to result in an additional 250,000 deaths annually, and an increase of 25 million undernourished children.

To the decision-makers in the negotiation rooms of COP28

This is a decisive moment. Our plea is the explicit integration of nutrition into the heart of climate action. 

Our collective response must re-envision our global food systems to be resilient, sustainable, and focused on nutritious foods and healthy diets. This is not just an environmental imperative; it is essential for public health, economic stability, and the well-being of billions. 

Our solutions must be multifaceted, and include a renewed partnership between the private sector, people and planet. This means cultivating diverse, resilient and nutrient-rich crops. It means embedding sustainability in trade and fostering responsible consumption. It also means advocating for ethical marketing, streamlining distribution and retail systems and, crucially, minimizing food loss and waste.

Central to this transformation is women's role and agency in food systems. It is vital to recognize their role within the unpaid care economy and as the backbone of household nutrition. It includes empowering women as drivers and decision-makers in sustainable agriculture and local food systems. Increasing their leadership across the value chain is also crucial for creating food production and distribution frameworks that are more equitable and resilient.

The role that young people must play if we are to succeed in both the fight against malnutrition in all its forms and climate resilience cannot be overstated. Youth are often at the forefront of innovation, and they have the greatest stake in the future. Engaging with youth and youth groups, and integrating their insights into our strategies and decisions is crucial for sparking the change to which we are all accountable.

We must unlock climate finance for better nutrition

Given the link between climate change and nutrition, the role of climate finance is pivotal. Yet there is almost no link between the two. Between 2021 and 2022, a mere 3% of Green Climate Fund projects focused on nutrition-specific interventions, while only 1% of climate-related Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding specifically addresses nutrition.

Investing in nutritious and sustainable food systems should be recognized as a strategic investment in our global future, mitigating the vast economic and health impacts of malnutrition and diet-related diseases.

We, therefore, call for a significant realignment of climate funds to address the critical nexus of nutrition and climate change. This means necessarily realigning ODA to foster investments that are climate-smart and nutrition-sensitive. It also means that specific proportions of budgets and extra-budgetary resources allocated to projects meeting these dual objectives must be quantified and allocated.

It is time to turn commitments into action

In order for change to occur, nutrition must also become part of every policy, budgetary, financing and development consideration. We need this backed by both public and private resources, dedicated to scaling up climate and nutrition actions in a comprehensive, integrated manner.

Every commitment we articulate before, during or after COP28 must be more than just aspirational; it must contain firm obligations. 

As a starting point, it is necessary to integrate nutrition into Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). At the same time, National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) have to be strengthened by embedding effective climate-resilient nutrition strategies

In order to ensure that these commitments are not only made, but can also be implemented effectively, it is essential that strong and accessible mechanisms are in place and adapted to ensure transparent and accountable reporting. These systems are vital for tracking and evaluating our year-over-year progress, offering a clear perspective on advancements and identifying areas in need of improvement.

Now is the moment to transform our calls to action into practical steps that will reverberate through our fields, our markets, and our homes, leaving no one behind.