Skip to main content

Stephen Whitfield

Stephen WhitfieldName: 

Stephen Whitfield  

Job title: 

Associate Professor in Climate Change and Food Security  

Area of work, and why it’s important: 

My research focuses on the social and political dimensions of agricultural innovation and climate change adaptation. Transformation in agricultural systems is central to achieving mitigation and adaptation objectives under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). However, it is equally important to acknowledge the social and political drivers and consequences of transformative change and to consider how such transformation can be brought about in an equitable and socially just way. COP26 will see the conclusion of the Koronivia Joint Working Group on Agriculture. It is particularly important that justice and equity feature in the recommendations coming out of this process for mainstreaming agriculture within the UNFCCC.  

Stephen is a COP26 Research Fellow. This video explains his project:

What will you be doing at COP26?

I have developed the University of Leeds online COP26 exhibit which showcases examples of work on equitable agricultural transformation in Africa. I will be presenting on this work as part of side events during COP26. 

What are your hopes for the COP26 negotiations?

I hope that a mandate is set out for the next phase of the Agriculture working group and that social equity and just transformation is central to the focus of that group.    

 Any tips for readers about climate action?

I think it is always important to recognise that climate actions come at a cost, and that those costs might be differently experienced across society. Most of us recognise the urgency of climate action and that climate change is disproportionately impacting on the most vulnerable. But we should also be consciously ensuring that our climate actions themselves are socially just and don’t exacerbate inequalities.