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Alok Sharma President COP 26 (middle) attends the Opening Ceremony on the first day of the COP27 UN Climate Change Conference, held by UNFCCC in Sharm El-Sheikh International Convention Center, Egypt on November 6, 2022.
Credit: REUTERS/Dominika Zarsycka

COP27: Anticipating Global Challenges

The Center on Global Food and Agriculture at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs is proud to partner with 2022 World Food Prize Laureate Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig to produce a special edition of Global Food for Thought. We would like to congratulate Dr. Rosenzweig for her outstanding contributions to food and nutrition security through her work as Senior Research Scientist and Head of the Climate Impacts Group at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

In founding the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) in 2010, she created a community of experts dedicated to assessing the effects of climate variability and change on agriculture, food security, and poverty on a global scale. Dr. Rosenzweig is also an Adjunct Professor at Barnard College, and an Adjunct Senior Research Scientist at the Columbia Climate School.

Sameh Shoukry President COP 27 speaks during the Opening Ceremony on the first day of the COP27 UN Climate Change Conference, held by UNFCCC in Sharm El-Sheikh International Convention Center, Egypt on November 6, 2022.
Sameh Shoukry President COP 27 speaks during the Opening Ceremony on the first day of the COP27 UN Climate Change Conference, held by UNFCCC in Sharm El-Sheikh International Convention Center, Egypt on November 6, 2022. REUTERS/Dominika Zarsycka

Dear reader,

The 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) is afoot, hosted by Egypt. After a year in which the ramifications of a changing climate are more conspicuous than ever, all attention is turned towards the vital conversations and commitments that the conference will facilitate regarding climate change action. Key components that have historically been absent from major discussions are agriculture and food. Without substantively including agriculture and food in commitments and action, it is impossible to meet our climate goals. Agriculture and food must be part of the solution.

The food system is responsible for one third of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions, and therefore can play a significant role in mitigating the effects of climate change. However, climate conversations have historically focused on the energy sector and left agriculture to the wayside. By working with farmers and the food system as a whole, we can not only mitigate and adapt to climate change, but foster health and resiliency. Agricultural innovation offers substantial opportunity to improve harvests’ resilience and output, expand food accessibility, and conserve finite resources. 

COP27 is a critical opportunity to facilitate conversations on agriculture, while simultaneously drawing attention to systemic vulnerabilities of low- to middle-income countries. Located in Egypt, COP27 highlights Africa’s disproportionate vulnerability to water scarcity, droughts, rising sea levels, and other adverse effects of climate change. With higher temperatures recorded in Egypt over the past 30 years, averaging a 0.53-degree Celsius increase per decade, and shrinking water supplies across the African continent, it is undoubtably clear that climate change is already wreaking havoc on the agriculture industry there and is hitting smallholder farmers the hardest. Africa’s extremely high number of smallholder farmers feed a disproportionate amount of people, making the effect climate change has on their harvests a widespread issue spanning the entire food system. 

Through creating a global community that recognizes and drives attention to the agriculture-climate nexus, it is possible to inspire solutions to the climate crisis. The collective action spearheaded by AgMIP and likeminded organizations, agencies, and communities provides opportunities for growth and change with a whole-of-society approach that COP27 can amplify.

To not only mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis, but also develop resilience and thrive, we must heed the advice of agriculture, food, and nutrition experts. Agriculture experts provide vital perspectives on how the climate crisis affects us all—consumers, producers, people, and the planet. An understanding of the reciprocal relationship between climate and agriculture must be considered in conjunction with climate perspectives from energy and other sectors.

The Chicago Council has captured some of those perspectives and experiences through climate-focused papers on agriculture in five different categories: the role of farmers, political will, R&D and innovation, resource management, and national security. The perspectives expressed there and by other agriculture experts, including farmers, offer considerations critical to meeting climate goals and providing new solutions, frameworks, and reasons for hope. This year’s COP27 should more closely integrate agriculture and food stakeholders, reflecting both the real challenges ahead and grounds for optimism given their significant role in climate action. 

Talk soon,

Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig 

The Role of Farmers


A farmer walks through a field of plants on a farm.
Farmers on the Front Line: Agriculture's Role in Fighting Climate Change Climate change is wreaking havoc on agriculture and food security both in the US and abroad. In collaboration with the Farm Journal Foundation, the Council provides recommendations that are targeted both domestically and internationally.
A young person kneels in a field on a farm, looking at a tablet.
Renewing International Extension to Equip Farmers for a Changing Climate The climate crisis necessitates a new extension agenda that prioritizes farmer needs and preferences, and promotes climate resilience and adaptation. US policy should reflect this new extension agenda to ensure farmers have the tools to succeed in providing for themselves, and ultimately, feeding the world.
A farm building and house are pictured next to a large field.
Don’t Ignore Climate Change…or Agriculture’s Potential as a Solution Climate change is threatening farmers' ability to grow nutritious food, and global food and nutritional security could become climate change’s first casualty.
Tractors in a yellow field seen from the sky. Food and Agriculture
Johny Goerend
The Science and Limitations of Farm-Based Carbon Offsets
BLOG Global Food for Thought by Nina Domingo
Agriculture has great potential for carbon offsets, but implementation will be complicated.
Field worker in a vegetable field. Food and Agriculture
Adopting Conserving Agricultural Practices: A Farmer's Perspective
BLOG Global Food for Thought
Farmers’ decisions to change the way they have farmed for years and start using new conserving agricultural practices such as conservation tillage, cover cropping, or buffer strips will depend in large part on how much it will cost.

Political Will

An underfed cow stands in a burning field with large plumes of smoke rising behind them.
From Climate Pledges to Transformative Action Can the United States deliver on its food systems and climate commitments? We offer recommendations to protect the planet and feed the world.
A person bends down to tend to a rice farm with a dark sky looming behind them.
Advancing Global Food Security in the Face of a Changing Climate This report urges the US government to take action to curb the risks climate change poses to global food security.
Vanessa Nakate speaks into megaphone during a demonstration for climate change.
Founder of the Rise Up Climate Movement Vanessa Nakate discusses the global climate crisis and the importance of elevating the next generation of underrepresented environmental leaders with Jamia Jowers.
Crowd of people at COP27 in front of a screen with earth's curve and writing saying "together for implementation."
Katharine Hayhoe and Rachel Bronson argue that we need to find shared values in order to achieve collective action on climate change.
People hold banners during a protest march to call for action against climate change in Vienna, Austria.
Assumptions about climate change's devastating effects are often built on a misunderstanding of the data and lead us to the wrong responses, Bjørn Lomborg argues.

R&D and Innovation

A woman kneels over to inspect crops on a farm.
New Solutions for a Changing Climate The government must recognize investment opportunities in US agricultural research and development in order to address current and future climate challenges.
A bird's eye view shows a tractor harvesting crops on a farm.
How NASA Technology Helps Farmers at Home and Abroad Food security is a huge global and national issue that has only worsened with the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to exacerbate as the world’s population continues to grow. So, why should American farmers care about global food security, and what is their role in supporting it?
NARC lab testing germ plasm samples Food and Agriculture
US Embassy
Breeding Crops for Climate Resilience: Visions from Haiti, Costa Rica, Uganda, Malawi, and Senegal
BLOG Global Food for Thought by Hale Tufan
This blog is about the disruption and impact COVID-19 has had on climate change and food systems around the world.

Resource Management

Workers unload a truck of harvested cassava roots.
Considering a Soil Initiative for Africa This paper diagnoses the challenges faced by governments, international organizations, and research institutions in mitigating and reversing the decline of soil quality in Africa.
A small house is located on an expansive rice paddy field.
From Scarcity to Security: Managing Water for a Nutritious Food Future This report examines the urgent challenges created by water scarcity and the impact on food security.
Tuta absoluta, a pest mainly of tomato crops Food and Agriculture
Patrick Clement
The Chain Reaction of Climate Change and Invasive Species Spread: Impacts, Realities, and Sustainable Solutions
BLOG Global Food for Thought by Sara Hendery
The extreme climatic events that are brought on by climate change, such as floods and droughts, open new entry points for the spread of invasive species.
A worker dumps pre-consumer food waste Climate and the Environment
The Food Waste and Climate Connection
BLOG Global Food for Thought by Eden Merkle
If food waste were a country, it would be the world's third-largest greenhouse gas emitter behind China and the US.

National Security

Afghan woman receives a box of food. Food and Agriculture
Food Security and Climate Mitigation as Counterinsurgency
BLOG Global Food for Thought by Julia Whiting
If left unmitigated, hunger- and climate change-induced suffering in both Afghanistan and Haiti will likely exacerbate current political instability and conflict.
Three people sit on-stage during the live stream of a program.
CEO of the American Security Project Stephen A. Cheney and atmospheric science expert Dr. Elisabeth Moyer join the Council to discuss the effects of climate change on geopolitical alliances.

Land Acknowledgement Statement

The Center on Global Food and Agriculture recognizes it occupies the ancestral land of the Kiikaapoi, Peoria, Kaskaskia, Bodwéwadmi, and Myaamia people. Indigenous communities around the world disproportionately experience the pressures of climate change, global conflicts, and the COVID-19 pandemic, while simultaneously stewarding 80 percent of the world’s biodiversity. These Indigenous tribes and nations are the original owners of this land and continue to be systemically erased by policies and practices that ignore their histories. To learn more about Indigenous foodways and practices, check out our 2022 blog series "Stewardship, Sovereignty, and Solutions."

About the Author
Natalie Burdsall
Former Communications Officer
Natalie Burdsall is pictured from the shoulders up, smiling into the camera, wearing a black blazer over a green button-down shirt.
Natalie Burdsall joined the Chicago Council on Global Affairs in 2022 as the communications officer for the Center on Global Food and Agriculture. In this role, they promoted the work and impact of the Center to expand public engagement in global food and agriculture, and assisted in bringing the Council’s digital transformation to fruition.
Natalie Burdsall is pictured from the shoulders up, smiling into the camera, wearing a black blazer over a green button-down shirt.