DUBAI, United Arab Emirates—We, the undersigned organizations, welcome the endorsement of more than 120 countries to the COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate and Health, which emphasizes the importance of integrating health into climate policies.
In particular, we appreciate the recognition of the climate benefits of “shifts to sustainable healthy diets.” This is a critical step forward, and important actions lie ahead to implement the Declaration’s objectives and promises.
The Climate and Health Declaration notes the importance of collaborating across “human, animal, environment, and climate health challenges.” Sustainable and healthy food systems are pivotal to this interdependence. With its poor animal husbandry systems, industrial animal agriculture can be a powerful incubator of diseases. The “One Health” approach is crucial in tackling issues such as zoonotic disease and antimicrobial resistance.
A decisive shift away from unsustainable food production practices associated with industrial animal agriculture is urgent. Equally crucial, is the definition and direction of the transition needed. Our current global food system fails to address the inequalities in our diets, resulting in issues such as hunger and obesity. The rising global consumption of animal-based foods negatively impacts health and breaches multiple planetary boundaries, namely climate, land use change, biodiversity loss, freshwater use and nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, thereby increasing the risk of disease.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes the multiple benefits of a “transition to more plant-based consumption and reduced consumption of animal-based foods,” including benefits to biodiversity and forests as well as lowering risks of many non-communicable diseases. As an example, the IPCC states that shifts to healthy and sustainable plant-based diets could reduce emissions by up to 8 giga tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.
Countries must now act to support sustainable food production as well as sustainable diets—through public education, government legislation and fiscal incentives in order to deliver effective, long-term solutions. We look forward to working with governments to implement the Declaration in a way that delivers healthy, sustainable diets for people, animals and the planet.
COP28 is a decisive moment to drive ambitious action on climate and health. We must rise to the global challenges we face and convert words into action.
Signatories include: Aquatic Life Institute, Brighter Green, Compassion in World Farming, FOUR PAWS, Humane Society International, Mercy For Animals, Plant Based Treaty, Tzu Chi Foundation, ProVeg International and World Animal Protection.