Skip to main content

Karina Gonçalves David, a dedicated Brazilian organic farmer, recently participated in COP28, where she represented women and young individuals engaged in agroecology, alongside organisations such as REDE ECOVIDA, INSTITUTO BRASIL ORGÂNICO, and Inter-Continental Network of Organic Farmer Organisations (INOFO). 

From discussions on agribusiness emissions to emphasising agroecology as a solution, Karina shares her insights into the discussions surrounding agriculture as both a contributor to and potential solution for the climate crisis. 

In the initial days, Karina was drawn to the food systems pavilion, where she discussed with others about agriculture’s role in one of the issues of the climate crisis, both as a cause and as a solution.

I’ve heard little about the causes, such as the case of Brazil, which contributes negatively (and a lot) to greenhouse gas emissions through agribusiness.

L-R: Helmy Abouleish – Managing Director of SEKEM, Karen Mapusua – President of IFOAM, Karina David and Shaikh Tanveer – IFOAM Asia pose for a photo at the COP

Despite the emphasis on fossil fuels, the conversation around agribusiness emissions seemed muted in the pavilion. However, solutions took center stage, with agroecology emerging as a crucial pathway for sustainable food production in the face of the climate crisis. While many experiences were presented, Karina noted a concerning lack of farmer representation at the COP and hopes this can change in the future. With that in mind, she knew that she wanted to fully represent farmer voices when the opportunities presented themselves. 

She had the privilege of sharing her decade-long journey as a farmer on a panel during the second day, shedding light on the ProNobis farm’s success in producing food and transitioning to cultivating shiitake mushrooms within agroforestry systems. The term “transition” echoed throughout the event, signifying a collective acknowledgment of the need for change. However, Karina urged caution, emphasising the importance of concrete actions, government accountability, and better public policies to accompany this rhetoric.

L-R: Bibong Widyarti – Founder and co-owner of Rumah Organik, Karina and Shaikh Tanveer

The COP also witnessed significant announcements, including a $400 million allocation for the loss and damage fund. Yet, Karina found the Emirates declaration on agriculture, food systems, and climate action lacking in substance, particularly in holding agribusiness accountable and recognising the transformative role of agroecology.

Karina, representing INOFO, actively participated in various discussions, including a farmers forum meeting with the president of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and seven farmers from different countries. The focus was on directing resources directly to farmers instead of going through governments as it is currently being done, to facilitate the execution of projects with more fluidity and autonomy, as well as better resource efficiency.

Karina sharing her message for the #IGrowYourFood action day

She also engaged in various panels addressing the COP and food, advocating for positive carbon emissions in food production and the importance of agroecology and local sourcing.

Despite individual programs and global events, certain developments raised eyebrows, such as

  • Brazil’s accession to the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC +), viewed by Karina as a regressive step in the face of the climate crisis,
  • Questionable statements from Sultan Al Jaber, the President of COP28 saying that there is no scientific evidence linking the adoption of “zero fossil fuels” and the 1.5°C warming limit,
  • greenwashing initiatives,
  • and a global commitment to renewable energy, further shaped the multifaceted narrative at COP28.

Karen Mapusua during one of the sessions

The Food Day at COP28, aimed at delivering food systems within the Global Stocktake (GST), showcased positive strides with 152 countries signing the Emirates Declaration on Food. However, the language in the GST text remained insufficiently ambitious, prompting calls for a new paragraph emphasising the role of food systems transformation as a key lever for climate mitigation. As we navigate the complex intersection of agriculture and climate crisis discussions, prioritising transformative actions in our approach is imperative for a sustainable and resilient future.

In light of these discussions, Karina shares, “My journey at COP28 has illuminated both the strides and gaps in addressing agriculture’s vital role in the climate crisis. This emphasises the urgent need for meaningful action and a more inclusive platform, amplifying the voices of farmers championing sustainable practices like agroecology.” 

As we navigate the path forward, it is imperative that we heed these insights and work collectively towards a resilient and sustainable future for our planet.” 

Check out BBC’s piece featuring Karina