From November 30 until December 12, 2023, the 28th Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP28), known commonly as the United Nations Climate Change Conference, is meeting in Dubai. Global leaders, companies, and innovators meet to discuss issues of climate change, sustainability, and food scarcity. Here are some of the recent agricultural-related highlights from the first week of the COP28 UAE.

Eggs tumbling from a woven basket in hay. An inset of two cattle with ear tags.
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Meat Institute and Protein PACT highlight meat and dairy across several talks

The Protein PACT for the People, Animals & Climate of Tomorrow, the Meat Institute, and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture's (IICA) are offering several panels across the span of COP28 with an emphasis on the importance of animal proteins.

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Panel topics will include sustainable and healthy livestock production systems; achieving net zero in agrifood systems; principles, practices, and proof for animal agriculture driving climate and food security solutions; and innovation and investment in livestock systems for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

IICA Director General Dr. Manuel Otero stated:

As the FAO has concluded, meat, eggs and milk offer crucial sources of much-needed nutrients which cannot easily be obtained from other sources, and producing these foods supports the livelihoods of millions throughout the Americas and around the world.

Livestock production is therefore central to all sustainability solutions - environmental, economic, and social. IICA and its member states will continue to champion at COP28 and beyond the critical role of sustainable agriculture of the Americas, including livestock production, in achieving global goals.

Plant-based protein "meat" patties on a plate with soybeans. Illustrations of olives and yeast.
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Planetarians demonstrating upcycled food waste as a protein source

Waste-to-food climate tech company Planetarians is present at COP28 UAE to showcase their capacity to create sustainable protein from industrial and commercial waste streams.

Planetarians' patented technology transforms spent yeast from commercial fermentation and plant solids remaining after vegetable oil extraction into plant-based, sustainable protein. This makes an alternate proteinthat, according to IAMECON research, has a carbon footprint 9 times better than other plant-based meats and 50 times better than animal meat.

A globe sitting on a pile of wheat grain. An illustrated child on cracked ground.
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OPEC Fund signs partnership agreements to address food security

The OPEC Fund for International Development has announced new initiatives and partnerships at COP28.

Partnership agreements will be signed with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the World Food Programme (WFP) in order to "address the interlinked challenges of climate change and food security in developing countries." Additional partnerships are being formed in order to address issues of climate change and renewable energy.

Dr. Abdulhamid Alkhalifa, Director-General of the OPEC Fund for International Development, stated:

The work of the OPEC Fund is people-centered, aiming to reinforce self-reliance and ultimately achieve “a world where sustainable development is a reality for all”. A world where no one is left behind: where every man, woman and child has the chance to fulfill their potential.

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Gates Foundation makes commitments to Invest in agricultural innovation

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation made joint commitments with the United Arab Emirates totaling $200 million to respond to the climate change threat against food security and nutrition.

"The needs of farmers are an integral part of the global climate agenda," said Bill Gates in a statement at the World Climate Action Summit. Gates encouraged global leaders to support the global agriculture research network, CGIAR, and focus climate finance initiatives on the needs of the agriculture sector.

One such innovation highlighted by the Gates Foundation is the biofortified orange-fleshed sweetpotato. Dr. Joyce Maru explains how this "miracle potato" is one of the ways farmers facing poor growing conditions can combat scarcity and nutrition.

A split image. On the left, illegal deforestation in the Amazon. On the right, the rear of domestic cattle.
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Bezos Earth Fund announces $57 million in food-related grants

As part of its $1 billion commitment to addressing the impact of food systems on climate and nature, the Bezos Earth Fund announced $57 million in food-related grants. The remaining $850 million will be allocated by 2030.

$30 million of the fund is dedicated to making livestock more sustainable by reducing methane emissions from livestock. $16.3 million is committed to eliminating illegal deforestation in Brazil with an animal traceability system and offering forest-positive incentives to cattle farmers and ranchers. Another $8.3 million is dedicated toward increasing knowledge of soil systems and reducing farmland methane emissions. The final $2.6 million is slated toward technological innovations in food systems.

Dr. Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund, commented:

We cannot afford for food to be on the sidelines of climate and nature conversations any longer. Food is a victim, problem, and solution in the climate and nature crises, and we must raise its profile in the discussion.

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