The U.N. food agency aims to launch a plan within the year to make the world's food system more sustainable, a senior executive told Reuters on the sidelines of the COP27 climate talks in Egypt.
The plan would show how the food industry and farming can align with the world's goal of capping global warming at 1.5 degrees Celsius, Food and Agriculture Organization Deputy Director Zitouni Ould-Dada said.
The hope is that such a plan would act in a similar way to the release of a report for the energy sector by the International Energy Agency, which spurred investment into companies, projects and technologies aligned with the plan.
"It's much needed because for the energy sector there are clear roadmaps which really attracted a lot of investors... but for agriculture we don't have such a map," Ould-Dada said.
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More than forty investors managing a combined $18 trillion urged the FAO in June to create a plan to curb emissions in the sector, often overlooked in global warming debates yet one of the biggest sources of climate-damaging emissions.
As Russia's invasion of Ukraine has driven a surge in food prices globally, compounding the food insecurity caused by climate change, delegates at the conference were more open to discussing the issue, Ould-Dada said.
"There has never been this much attention to food and agriculture anytime before. This COP is definitely the one."
The initiative has already drawn the support of former U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and former U.N. climate agency chief Christiana Figueres, and is slowly gaining the attention of some governments, Ould-Dada added.
Food production accounts for around a third of global greenhouse gas emissions and is the main threat to 86% of the world's species at risk of extinction, while cattle ranching is responsible for three quarters of Amazon rainforest loss.
Investors are hoping the roadmap will provide guidance on matters such as methane emission limits, and support to ensure a 'Just Transition' for farmers, said Jeremy Coller, chair of the FAIRR Initiative, organisers of the investor-led campaign.
Livestock accounts for nearly a third of the global methane emissions linked to human activity, released in the form of cattle burps, manure and the cultivation of feed crops.
"We welcome the FAO’s commitment to producing a roadmap for food and agriculture which will provide much needed clarity to both companies and investors, which will allow companies to plan for the transition and investors to assess investment risk and opportunities," Coller said.