International Plant Based Food Groups Urge Leaders at COP27 to set clear targets for global food system transition in favor of plant-based

Eight international plant-based food trade associations join forces to promote plant-based food systems as transformational strategy to meet Paris Agreement climate goals and mitigate growing concerns around food security

New Delhi, 11th Nov; 2022 –– Ahead of the United Nations’ 27th Conference of the Parties (COP 27), the International Plant Based Foods Working Group (IPBFWG) urges world leaders to set clear and tangible targets for transition away from resource-intensive industrial agriculture and toward sustainable, plant-based food systems that prioritize growing food for direct human consumption. After calling on the international community and national governments to make a predominantly plant-based food system a central part of strategies to address the urgent climate crisis in 2021, IPBFWG applauds the inclusion of Agriculture Day as part of the COP27 Presidency Vision thematic days as well as the first-ever Food Pavilions that aims to focus on transformation towards healthier, more resilient, and more equitable food systems.

Our global food system is responsible for over 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions and 57 percent of emissions from all food production come from raising animals for industrial meat and dairy in addition to growing crops for feed. , Reducing emissions from our food system is paramount to meeting goals to slow the rate of global warming as outlined in the Paris Agreement and shifting toward plant-based diets and food systems can not only play a role in curtailing emissions but also re-allocate crops to provide essential nutrition to people and alleviate growing resource inequities. In light of the war in Ukraine, global food supply network challenges, and the acceleration of extreme weather that makes food production increasingly unreliable, world leaders must acknowledge the transformational potential of a food system that centers on growing nutritious, sustainable plant-based foods and set a clear timeline to reduce reliance on resource-intensive industrial agriculture, which is a known driver of ocean dead zones, air and water pollution, as well as public health crises like antibiotic resistance and zoonotic diseases.

The IPBFWG commends COP27 organizers for clearly defining, as part of the Round Table on “Food Security,” that a shift towards sustainable global food systems includes advancing “demand for food towards diets that can remain within planetary boundaries, developing alternatives, and spurring the shift towards more native plants, crops, and grains.” COP27 represents a historic opportunity for global leaders to take stock of the progress made towards achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement, and to define a bold, concrete action plan to tackle the food system roots of our current climate crisis.

Sanjay Sethi, Executive Director, Plant Based Foods Industry Association (India): “It is commendable that the need to deliver a food system transformation towards health and sustainability is being recognized with the Food4Climate Pavilion at COP27 this year. Plant-based Foods are a multi-problem solution, be it sustainability, land degradation, biodiversity loss, climate change, health hazards and ethical concerns. To feed the ever-growing global population, we must shift to a more efficient food system centered towards plant-based foods. India is pivotal to the global food ecosystem, and with the support from research institutions, government, businesses, and consumers we can collectively spearhead this transition.”

As leaders at COP27 meet to discuss strategies to feed our growing global population in a sustainable way, the IPBFWG recommends that nations set clear and measurable targets to shift the balance to a food system that prioritizes plant-based food production and promotes plant-based dietary patterns. These foundation targets will create the basis for world governments to set policies and regulations in support of plant-based food systems transition.

In addition, IPBFWG recommends that nations commit to:

● Supporting farmers in moving towards more sustainable agricultural practices and crops (e.g. plant protein crops) by providing and/or redirecting financial incentives to utilize the land for crops for direct human consumption and set clear targets for this transition;

● Educating citizens about plant-based foods via public campaigns;

● Ensuring that labelling requirements for plant-based foods products empower consumers to make more sustainable food choices;

● Integrating plant-based foods into public procurement (e.g. making plant-based options available in schools, hospitals, etc.), as well as in national dietary guidelines;

● Using economic incentives to facilitate access to plant-based products to ensure that the most sustainable choice is also the most affordable;

● Allocating funds for targeted research and innovation on plant-based foods, and to support diversified climate-friendly crops and plant aquaculture both on land and under the sea; and

● Developing food environments where plant-based foods are presented as the sustainable choice (e.g. in retail stores).

Our global food systems are intricately tied to climate change but plant-based foods and diets offer a transformative solution that can help us feed our growing population without further devastating our planet. The outcomes of COP27 must be ambitious and facilitate a shift to a plant-based food system, with the aim of meeting global climate goals.

The undersigned members of the IPBFWG share a like-minded mission to harness the benefits of plant-based foods, placing them at the heart of the transition towards more sustainable, equitable, and healthy food systems.

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