For Compassionate Relief

For Compassionate Relief

Tzu Chi Explores the Nexus of Climate, Refugees, and Food Systems at COP28

Tzu Chi Center  |  December 6, 2023

Written by Anna Sipek

On December 2nd, day 2 of COP 28 in the United Arab Emirates, the Tzu Chi delegation continued to meet with grassroots activists, policy-makers, and non-profit leaders from around the world to tackle the climate crisis head on. 

The Climate Crisis is a Migrant Crisis

To start the day, the Tzu Chi delegation attended a panel led by the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees at the Faith Pavilion featuring Filippo Grandi. There is a huge intersection between refugees and climate. As the climate crisis worsens, many will be forced to leave their homelands due to drought, famine, and increased international hostilities. With that in mind, Grandi  urged lawmakers to ensure “that any response takes them not just into account, but responds properly to their concerns.” 

Changing Food Systems Can Change Our World

The Tzu Chi Foundation then hosted “A Call to Action for the Health Ministerial: We Need Healthy Diets for Healthy People and Planet” at the Food4Climate Pavilion, along with ProVeg International and the World Health Organization.

Diets and food systems have a profound impact not only on human health, but on the health of  the planet as well. Livestock grazing, mono-crop culture, and the use of harmful chemical fertilizers all have caused profound damage to our environment. 

Luckily, there are numerous food systems solutions that have the power to transform our world into a more equitable and sustainable place for ourselves and future generations. This panel sought to explore these options through the perspectives of those most impacted by the climate crisis including Lujain Alqodmani President of the Medical Association and member of EAT, Xananine Calvillo Ramirez from the ProVeg International Youth Board, Erika Susanto, Director of ESG Data and Research at FAIRR, Mark Atuahene, Principal Technical Officer at the Ministry of Health, Ghana, and Steve Chiu, Tzu Chi Representative to the UN.

“That conversation was very interesting because if we want to be healthy. If we want to be healthy, the thing that we need to do is take care of our environment and move back towards the traditional ways that we eat,” stated Tiffany Tu, member of the Tzu Chi delegation at COP28.

“We are going to have to try to promote a plant-based food system,” continued Xananine Calvillo Ramirez, member of the LEGAIA organization, “and relearn the food system of the people of the indigenous community, that as of now, it has been displaced by the entire food industry.” 

This change must not only happen, but happen with urgency.

“I think it’s a good start in this COP but we have to do much more and much faster,” explained Linda Mahy, Technical Officer focusing on Nutrition at the World Health Organization.  “We really want to link climate change and nutrition action together because this is a win-win for the health of people and the health of the planet.” 

In light of these perspectives, participants were pushed to bring food systems to the center of the conversation at  the Health Ministerial taking place December 3rd. The Declaration on Climate Change and Health acknowledges the urgency of taking action on climate change and the benefits of a shift to sustainable healthy diets. It’s time for governments, citizens, and industry alike to make the necessary changes to see a better world for us all.

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