* QF’s Doha Debates’ recent #DearWorldLive examines potential solutions to planet’s worsening environmental challenges
Consumers, big businesses and governments must take action to lighten the burden that food production and consumption take on the world’s troubled environment, experts told Qatar Foundation (QF)’s Doha Debates’ #DearWorldLive programme.
With the United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP26) just weeks away, the UN says 34% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions come from food production, processing and packaging. Food distribution and food waste take a further toll on the environment, contributing to the record number of droughts, floods, and famines in recent years, according to UN reports.
The fourth season of #DearWorldLive features three episodes devoted to finding solutions to the world’s climate crisis. In the first episode, 'Climate Change and the Future of Food', an environmentalist and a food industry advocate agreed — despite representing different sides of the issue — that individual and collective action must be taken to diminish food’s contribution to climate change.
Lana Weidgenant, a food-focused climate advocate with the youth-led Zero Hour movement, said government and big business leaders often say the right things, but fail to deliver when it matters. “I’ve seen a lot of talk by world leaders, but not any action,” Weidgenant said. “We don’t have time to waste with fake promises.”
Emma Piercy, the head of climate change and energy policy for the UK’s Food and Drink Federation, called for collaborative corrective action: “We need practical, real solutions developed with all stakeholders involved.”
Despite increasing tension over how to solve climate change, Piercy said, “We really need to have a practical debate rather than it getting quite polarised.” She also defended the food industry, saying they intend to be part of the solution: “Things have evolved today. The momentum around reducing carbon emissions, sustainability and net zero has increased massively.”
Mohamed Alif Naufal, a student in Qatar, voiced concerns about the prospect of food costs increasing due to ethically responsible farming practices, stating, “Not everyone is privileged, so I think it’s a bit difficult if prices are to double or even triple. Not everyone would be able to afford these more organic or green products.”
#DearWorldLive host Nelufar Hedayat closed the programme by asking what actions individuals can and should take to address climate change. Weidgenant called for consumers to do their part by shifting to a plant-forward diet, since meat production takes a heavy toll on the environment.
Piercy said, “On a personal level, it’s about practising what you preach. I try to reduce my food waste to hopefully zero. I look at the car I’m driving, the travel. It’s about what we can do that our friends, colleagues and neighbours can take examples from.” Naufal added that he does his part by changing his diet and trying to reduce his food waste, “especially when I order in restaurants.”
Viewer feedback during the interactive programme included comments from viewers in Qatar, India and Nigeria. A young Nigerian farmer, Fisayo Oyewale, described the painful toll that climate change is having on agriculture production in Africa's most populous nation. Saying Covid-19 and climate change combined were having a devastating impact on Nigerian farmers, Oyewale said, “it is important for us to take actions to ensure we have sustainable, equitable food systems.”
Over its first three seasons, #DearWorldLive garnered more than 33mn views across social media, with the US, Turkey and Brazil among the top-viewing nations.
The first episode of the fourth season of #DearWorldLive, as well as all previous episodes, can be seen on Doha Debates’ Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Twitch channels, and at DohaDebates.com/DearWorldLive