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In the countdown to COP 28, Director General of IICA reaffirms commitment to fighting against climate change and warns that the agrifood sector cannot be absent from environmental negotiations

El Director General del IICA, Manuel Otero, explicó que la expectativa del sector agroalimentario de las Américas en la COP 28 es que se reconozca que la agricultura es un sector particularmente vulnerable al cambio climático, estratégico para los medios de vida de millones de personas en todo el planeta, y es parte de la solución a la crisis climática.
The Director General of the IICA, Manuel Otero, explained that the expectation of the agrifood sector of the Americas at COP28 is to be recognized as particularly vulnerable to climate change, strategic for the livelihoods of millions of people around the planet, and as part of the solution to the climate crisis.


San Jose, 30 November 2023 (IICA) - The agrifood sector in the Americas is particularly vulnerable to climate change; at the same time, it supports food security and is strategic for the livelihoods of millions of people on the planet. For this reason, it must never again be excluded from global environmental negotiation forums.
The Director General of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), Manuel Otero, spoke with international media hours before the start of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP 28), in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
In his message, he reiterated the organization’s commitment to joining initiatives that promote the transformation of agrifood systems to face the climate crisis while increasing well-being for the entire population.
At COP 28, a forum that will attract global attention, IICA, together with its 34 Member States and partner organizations from the public and private sectors, will establish the Home of Sustainable Agriculture of the Americas. The pavilion, which was also set up last year at COP27 in Egypt, will host a number of high-level discussions on the role of regional agriculture in global warming mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Otero emphasized that agricultural activity plays only a minor role in global greenhouse gas emissions; in spite of this, both producers and the public agricultural sector agree on the importance of acting in coordination to address the climate crisis while reducing food insecurity.
He also explained that agriculture is the only sector capable not only of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, but also of making a fundamental contribution to the mitigation of climate change as a net carbon sink. In addition, he stated that agriculture is essential for adaptation and resilience in the face of extreme weather events.
“If we consider the emissions per hectare from agricultural production in general, including deforestation, Latin America and the Caribbean have fewer emissions, measured in carbon dioxide equivalent, than the European Union. This has been achieved with major scientific and technological efforts and other public policies and, above all, with the courage and determination of the producers and workers of the agrifood systems”, stated Otero.
Advances in sustainability
COP28 in Dubai will be a crucial discussion forum on the present and future of the modes of production and consumption of all humanity. The event will bring together some 70,000 world leaders, including heads of State and Government, senior national officials, industrial and agricultural leaders, academics, experts, young people and representatives of the private sector and NGOs.
In this context, the public authorities and producers of the continent will find, in the pavilion of IICA and its partners, a privileged setting to show their progress towards greater sustainability and the promotion of regenerative agriculture under the One Health approach, in a key region for food security and environmental conservation in the world.
“Latin America and the Caribbean, with its wealth of natural resources, is and will be, under any future scenario, a strategic player in global food and environmental security. As a result of this reality, and the challenges posed by the SDGs and the Paris Agreement, the countries of the region, with the support of IICA, have been working together in different international settings in order to present a regional perspective, coordinate positions, and enhance resources based on common interests”, explained Otero.
The participation of IICA and its partners in this global event was formally approved during the last Conference of Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas, held in October in San Jose, Costa Rica.
On that occasion, ministers and senior officials from the 34 Member States endorsed the creation of a hemispheric partnership for food security and sustainable development in the Americas, which proposes a roadmap of concrete actions to optimize the region’s contributions to the regional and global economy.
They also supported the work of the Institute as a promoter of collective action, and the adoption of common positions in the face of the environmental crisis. This included a firm demand made to developed countries for greater access to climate financing by the agricultural sector, given that the cost of transformations cannot be borne solely by producers.
Vulnerability to extreme weather events
Otero explained that the expectation of the agrifood sector of the Americas at COP28 is to be recognized as particularly vulnerable to climate change, strategic for the livelihoods of millions of people around the planet, and as part of the solution to the climate crisis. Another expectation is to begin articulating the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the adaptation, resilience and mitigation objectives of the Paris Agreement.
Otero explained that the agrifood sector in Latin America and the Caribbean has significantly increased its productivity in recent decades, with minimal growth in the surface area dedicated to agriculture and a reduction in its greenhouse gas emissions.
“The agrifood systems of the region – he stated – are not failed, as argued by certain narratives. That does not mean that there isn’t room for improvement. There continue to be many problems to solve: some 43 million people are still suffering from hunger; just over 133 million cannot access a healthy diet; and more than 110 million adults are obese”.
“The hemispheric partnership for food security and sustainable development in the Americas”, he concluded, “is based on the vision that the Western Hemisphere, as the world’s largest producer and exporter of food, plays a central role in facing global challenges. The agricultural sector wishes to reinforce its role and further develop technologies supported by science and innovation, and is prepared to continue feeding the region and the world in harmony with nature”.

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Institutional Communication Division.