Comment – COP28, and all that..

I often switch off when the news comes on, and the COP28 would normally fit into that category. Especially in a cheese induced fog, ‘somewhere’; between Christmas and New Year.

However,  this year in the UAE, 134 nations backed a food and agriculture statement which aims to scale up adaptation to reduce the vulnerability of farm businesses, promote food security and nutrition, strengthen the integrated management of water in agriculture and food systems, and maximise the climate and environmental benefits associated with agriculture and food systems.

If thats not a siren call for all the technology, innovation and approaches which the agricultural and bio systems engineering industries specialise in, I don’t know what is?

This piqued my interest. When a colleague then shared some commentary from Science for Sustainable Agriculture written by Jack Bobo, director of the Food Systems Institute at the University of Nottingham, I was hooked.

It’s very popular (in the middle class dinner party circuit which I stumble around the fringes of) to discuss the ‘broken food system’. But I’m not so sure it is. Jack said ‘Currently, about 10% of the global population goes to bed hungry, a significant reduction from 20% four decades ago and 30% six decades ago. It’s hard to imagine a time when the outcomes from our food system were markedly better. This improvement is a testament to the strides made in agricultural productivity and innovation.’

He continues ‘With the population expected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that we need to increase food production by 50-60% and double protein production.” 

Can we tackle this by extensifying production and reducing yield in the interest of regenerative practices and feeling good about ourselves?

I get rather frustrated by my betters at these dinner parties lecturing about how bad food is and how terrible the supply chains are, when the reality is very different. The USDA reckons between 1980 and 2011, in corn production in the USA there was a 35% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, 40% less land and energy usage, 50% less water consumption, and 60% less soil erosion. Now thats down to technology, research and good practice, hand in hand.

In a long winded kind of way, what I’m trying to say, is lets be encouraged by progress, ignore the naysayers (with their full stomachs) and, at the turn of the year be positive about what the future holds.

The machinery supply chain is a vital part of societies solution, not its problem.

On that note, I’m off to look for a piece of coal (before its banned) and to get ready for some ‘first footing’.

All the best and let me wish you a Happy New Year.



Just in case you need the check the references the final food and agriculture statement is here:

Plus the full comment from Jack Bobo is here: