Before COVID-19 appeared in everyone's life, 2020 was declared to be a super year for nature. World leaders and environmental activists had many expectations for the several international conferences that were supposed to give decisive political direction for slowing the climate breakdown and reversing biodiversity loss. The postponement of many of these critical conferences to 2021 has undoubtedly lowered the expectations, but many observers believe that the spirit of a super year for nature is still alive.
Emerging attended the 24th Session of the Conference of the Parties (COP24) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), that took place in Katowice, Poland, December 1-14, 2018. I followed the negotiation process focused on the implementation details of the Paris Agreement with regards to agricultural issues. The negotiations at Katowice were crucial to help countries account for and record their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.
At COP24, countries reached an agreement on many of these details and made a good step forward but a lot remains to be done. Scientists say that the current global commitment to reduce GHG emissions is not enough to prevent the severe and negative impacts of climate change. As the Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres said, the lack of action against climate change now would be suicidal. So future UNFCCC meetings need urgently to scale up developed countries’ efforts in mitigating their emissions and provide the necessary finance to developing countries to do the same.
The agricultural sector especially needs policy discussion to be translated into concrete action on the ground as climate change is predicted to significantly reduce agricultural production and increase food insecurity. At the same time, agriculture is also a cause of the problem as it is responsible for almost a quarter of the GHG emissions through deforestation and the management of livestock, soil and nutrients. For these reasons, many considered the recent decision to formally include agriculture in the UNFCCC negotiations as a landmark result.
However, since that decision, the process has been slow and mainly focused on procedures rather than on substantial climate action. Discussions take the form of thematic workshops covering key issues such as soil, nutrients and livestock rather than traditional negotiations. In Katowice the debate focused specifically on the role of the specialized bodies of the UNFCCC in assisting countries with the implementation of the outcomes of the workshops. Unsurprisingly, one of the main result of the discussion was that the UNFCCC action in the agricultural field is still limited. Overall the discussion confirmed the need to research a continuous delicate compromise between developing and developed countries on issues such as finance and the balance between mitigation and adaptation.
While the process is slow, and views sometimes diverging, all countries are aware that their joint work is essential to create the institutional, technical and financial structures needed to transform the agricultural sector and the overall food system to respond to the climate crisis. Countries are expected to boost the development of technological innovations in agriculture, improve their transfer to developing countries, identify knowledge gaps, stimulate the sharing of best practices, foster capacity development and facilitate the needed financial mechanisms.
The next UNFCCC negotiation sessions in Bonn in June 2019 will be an important step to understand if, when and how discussions will be translated into concrete actions for the benefit of 500 million small farmers and entire society.
World Diabetes Day is celebrated worldwide on November 14. There are more than 12 million people living with diabetes in Mexico and half of them ignore their condition. Emerging, on behalf of the Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA), partnered for the third year with the Mexican Diabetes Federation to run a number of events the week prior to World Diabetes Day to raise awareness on the importance of early diagnosis and on the role of oats in managing diabetes. The messages shared on those days focused on the importance of maintaining a balanced diet and doing physical activity as key measures to prevent and reduce diabetes, on the health benefit of oats and on its affordability for Mexicans. Mexico imports 95% of its oats from Canada.
The following events took place in Mexico City:
November 8: Cooking workshops at Colegio Superior de Gastronomía
The Mexican Diabetes Federation in collaboration with POGA held two cooking workshops at the Superior College of Gastronomy (Colegio Superior de Gastronomía). Renowned chefs from the College of Gastronomy worked in the morning with 35 diabetes patients and in the afternoon with 35 health professionals showing the importance and benefits of eating a balanced and healthy diet and the options oats provide. A diverse menu of appetizing dishes made with oats was prepared using the new recipes featured in POGA’s new recipe booklet “Cocina con Avena” (more information below). Chef Omar Sánchez Guzmán, banquet chef at the School, used the booklet to demonstrate how creatively oats can be used in simple to sophisticated cooking. Several recipe creators, winners of the recipe contest, were also in attendance.
In addition to the cooking training participants had the opportunity to hear presentations about the specific benefits that oats have for people living with diabetes. Five nutritionists of the Mexican Diabetes Federation coming from the states of Yucatán, Guerrero, Jalisco, Nuevo León y Guanajuato talked about how oats are an ally for people living with diabetes. The principle is a train-the-trainer approach and POGA is working with the Federation to engage people from different regions.
An article about the workshops will also be published in the magazine “Diabetes Hoy” in its January-February 2019 issue, along with the recipes from the event.
A social media booklet was given to all workshop participants to be active on social media during the workshop with sample tweets promoting World Diabetes Day (#WDD2018) and oats (#avena).
November 9: Media Event
On November 9, a media event entitled “Oats, the healthy choice for Mexican cuisine” was hosted at the Superior College of Gastronomy with the attendance of 14 journalists. Five of the nine winners of the recipe contest attended and presented their recipes. A representative of the Canadian Embassy and of the Mexican Diabetes Federation also spoke. A Grupo Vida representative was also in attendance. In addition to the presentations, journalists also had a chance to taste a menu featuring the winning recipes of the recipe contest prepared by the kitchen of the Superior College of Gastronomy.
The following articles were published following the media events:
Juan Leyva, Devate.com.mx
Aline Nicolas, El Universal
Gilda Melgar, Mujer es Más
Acqua Alta producciones
Restaurantes de Mexico
And the Mexican Diabetes Federation also posted information on their website.
November 11: Diabetes Fair
On Sunday November 11, the Mexican Diabetes Federation organized its annual awareness fair at Plaza Tlaxcoaque and Avena Canada had a booth featuring the recipe booklet, flyers and banners.
The booth was visited by 900 people. All the material was used up. In general people appreciated the recipe booklet as many commented that they like oats but do not know how to prepare it.
November 14: World Diabetes Day
A series of posts were published on the Avena Canada Facebook Fan Page in the lead up to November 14 and on the day promoting the theme of this year’s World Diabetes Day: “Diabetes concerns every family/La diabete concierne a cada familia”. Visuals from the International Diabetes Federation and the Mexican Diabetes Federation were posted along with the promotion of recipes. Several Facebook photo albums were also created with pictures from the November 8, 9 and 11 events. In total, Facebook posts from Avena Canadiense had a reach of 418,553 and resulted in 31,886 engagements. The two top-performing posts reached 247,424 and 127,195 people, respectively.
A 24-page recipe booklet in Spanish was developed using the 9 winning recipes from the recipe contest. In addition, the booklet contains Avena Canada promotions and a feature by the Mexican Diabetes Federation. Entitled “Cooking with Oats/Cocina con Avena”, the booklet was distributed during the November mission.
Following a series of prominent media articles that came out in the USA on the presence of glyphosate in children cereals (initially based on a publication by consumer groups), POGA decided to develop a series of messages regarding the presence of glyphosate residues in oats. The factsheet was developed in English and Spanish.
Farmers rely on the weather and the environment in its entirety for their production and livelihoods. Changes in the frequency and severity of major weather events, such as droughts and floods, are posing significant challenges for farmers and threaten food security, especially in developing countries. In addition, agricultural activities, such as crop and livestock production, are significant sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Globally agricultural emissions currently account for 12-14% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. These are projected to increase by 20-30% by 2020, as estimates indicate we will need to increase food production by as much as 60-70% by 2050.
On 9 November 2017, in the context of the World diabetes day, POGA and the Mexican federation of diabetes jointly co-organised a workshop and cooking training to promote the benefit of oats as part of a healthy diet for people suffering from diabetes. The event was hosted by the culinary school Colegio Superior de Gastronomia, the first gastronomic university in Latin America, and attracted 40 attendants including many young people affiliated to the Mexican federation of diabetes, media reporters and radio speakers.
This initiative followed a series of activities that POGA has carried out in Mexico in the previous months such as the website – avenacanada.com - where Mexican visitors can find information on all the nutritional properties of oats, the Facebook page with more than 170,000 followers and the two recipes contests for which Mexicans enthusiastically created more than 180 new recipes based on oats and local ingredients.