World Environment Day (5 June 2023) marks the first day of the Bonn Climate Change Conference. ProVeg International and members of the Youth Board will participate in the event over the next two weeks, advocating for food-systems transformation and a shift towards plant-based diets.
Bonn Climate Change Conference: Day One
Today marks the beginning of the Bonn Climate Change Conference, which runs until 15 June 2023. The aim of the event is to prepare for the next UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), which will be held in Dubai in December 2023. The sessions will include discussions on climate targets, assessing progress, and evaluating mitigation options. ProVeg and the Youth Board are attending the conference to ensure that food-systems transformation and the potential of alternative proteins are part of the agenda.
The first day of the conference falls on World Environment Day, a UN initiative to promote environmental protection and raise awareness about the climate crisis. The ProVeg Youth Board is honouring World Environment Day by advocating for food-systems transformation at Bonn. Since animal agriculture accounts for around 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions and uses 78% of the world’s agricultural land,1 a shift towards plant-focused diets is crucial in order to protect the environment, reduce biodiversity loss, and mitigate against the effects of climate change.
A plant-based diet can have numerous positive effects on the environment, including the preservation of biodiversity, more sustainable use of resources, and combatting climate change.
The Young People driving climate action
In the coming decades, young people will be increasingly confronted with the realities of the climate crisis, with many already facing disasters such as drought and flooding.2 For this reason, it is vitally important that young people are involved in the climate negotiations. ProVeg is proud that three Youth Board members from around the world will be joining us at the climate conference in Bonn. Below, the members talk about why it is important for them to attend the conference and what they hope to achieve while they’re there.
Helen Regina, 26, from India, commented that “youth representation is necessary at conferences involving world leaders because the climate crisis will affect current and future generations significantly”. She also hopes to “highlight the benefits of alternative proteins and how they are not meant to compete with or replace traditions or cultures but rather provide an innovative solution which could help minimise industrial farming”. Helen plans to encourage leaders to support alternative-protein research through EU-level funding and educational opportunities.
“Slowly but surely, we will transform our current food system into one that is more sustainable, diverse, inclusive, and delicious.”
Watan Mohammed, 22, from Sudan, said that it is important for her to attend the conference in order to follow updates on the Sharm el-Sheikh Joint Work on Implementation of Climate Action on Agriculture and Food Security, and to voice the demands of young people. Watan plans to co-author interventions with other young people in the field and deliver them during the negotiations. She also hopes to share the Youth Board work with other youth movements and to convey how important it is for “youth to advocate for plant-based diets and food-system transformation in the climate spaces”.
“For us as young people, there isn’t much in our hands to change the current systems, but what is in our hands and what we are capable of doing is changing our lifestyles, starting from what we eat and influencing others to do the same!”
Erika Xananine Calvillo Ramirez, 23, Mexico, commented that “as a climate activist from Latin America – the most dangerous region to be an environmentalist – we need to take up space to amplify the resistances that are preserving life in our territories. Young voices from our communities must be heard so that our demands influence policies.” Erika hopes to raise awareness at Bonn about how “hegemonic food systems drive the climate crisis, and how food decisions, especially those made in the Global North, place a disproportionate environmental strain on territories in the Global South”, including her ancestral community. For this reason, Erika believes that non-hegemonic food systems and diets need to be re-centred in the conversation and that much can be learned from the “ancestral diets and regenerative agroecological techniques of Indigenous and rural communities in Latin America and the Global South”.
“Food is political. We are affecting millions of human and non-human lives with our decisions. If you have the privilege to choose, choose responsibility.”
Promoting alternative proteins
Tomorrow (6 June), the ProVeg Advocacy team, will, together with our partners, host the side event ‘Unlocking the Potential of Alternative Proteins For Food Systems Transformation’ from 16:15-17:30 CEST. This side event will inform delegates about the opportunities for governments to utilise alternative proteins as a climate solution in UN-level climate frameworks such as the Sharm El Sheikh Joint Work on Implementation of Action on Agriculture and Food Security. The event will also highlight existing initiatives led by civil society, public-private partnerships, and startup enterprises across the world. The roundtable discussion will be followed by a reception for the delegates.
- Benton, T. G., Bieg, C., Harwatt, H., Pudasaini, R. and Wellesley, L. (2021): Food system impacts on biodiversity loss: Three levers for food system transformation in support of nature. London: Chatham House. Available at: https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/default/files/2021-02/2021-02-03-food-system-biodiversity-loss-benton-et-al_0.pdf
- United Nations Children’s Fund (2021): The climate crisis is a child rights crisis: Introducing the Children’s Climate Risk Index. New York: UNICEF. Available at: https://www.unicef.org/media/105376/file/UNICEF-climate-crisis-child-rights-crisis.pdf