Untapped Opportunities for Climate Action: An Assessment of Food Systems in Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)

Although there is growing attention to the connections between climate change and agriculture issues, relatively little focus has been placed so far on climate change and food systems more broadly. This is while food systems not only contribute to and are significantly affected by climate change, they are also a crucial part of the solutions urgently needed to keep global warming below 1.5°C by 2050.

In March 2021, the Global Alliance for the Future of Food (GA) commissioned Climate Focus and Solidaridad to develop an assessment framework for integrating positive food systems transformation into countries’ Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs). In the past nine months, Climate Focus and Solidaridad have prepared and implemented this framework based on the GA’s seven, interconnected calls to action, which highlight critical pathways to food systems transformation, in order to highlight the critical importance and the multiple benefits of including holistic, interconnected food systems policies and programs in national climate plans. This has resulted in different products that may be drawn upon by policymakers, civil society, and experts working in the food, nature and climate nexus who wish to evaluate how NDCs fare in relation to a food systems approach.

The following products are being developed:

  • Overview Report, which provides an overview of the challenges and opportunities for promoting food systems transformation through NDCs, and includes the main findings stemming from the initial application of the Assessment Framework to the NDCs of 14 selected countries;
  • Assessment Framework, which contains an evaluation matrix and set of criteria to assess the extent to which a food systems approach is taken in developing and implementing NDCs;
  • Country Assessments, which presents a preliminary and high-level application of the Assessment Framework for each selected country, assessing the extent to which the most recently submitted NDC reflects a food systems approach, and outlining areas for improvement for future NDC cycles;
  • Case studies, which are concrete examples of initiatives that address food systems and climate change in an integrated way and/or directly support food systems transformations. A case study has been identified for each of the 14 selected countries.

An initial set of key findings from the assessment of the first eight NDCs was shared during several events at COP26. These findings can be found in a Slide Deck here.

The full set of products and findings will be launched early 2022.