Amsterdam has become the first EU capital to back the Plant Based Treaty, a global movement that seeks to restructure the entire planet’s food production systems away from animal agriculture. The city council announced its endorsement of the treaty on February 6, 2024, joining 25 other municipal governments worldwide, including Edinburgh and Los Angeles.
What is the Plant Based Treaty?
The Plant Based Treaty was introduced in August 2021 as an extension of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global heating to as close to 1.5°C as possible. It has 38 demands in total, including transitioning to plant-based meals in schools and hospitals, no new animal farms, and subsidizing fruit and vegetables.
The treaty is based on three core principles: Relinquish, Redirect, and Restore. Relinquish means no land use change, ecosystem degradation or deforestation for animal agriculture. Redirect means an active transition away from animal-based food systems to plant-based systems. Restore means actively restoring key ecosystems, particularly restoring forests and rewilding landscapes.
The treaty’s supporters argue that addressing fossil fuels alone is not enough to tackle the climate crisis, and that food systems also need to be transformed. Animal agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, deforestation, water depletion, soil degradation and ocean dead zones. It also harms human health, animal welfare and social justice.
Why did Amsterdam endorse the treaty?
Amsterdam has a long history of promoting sustainable and healthy food policies. In 2018, it launched its Food Strategy, which aims to ensure that all residents of Amsterdam have access to healthy, fair, sustainable and affordable food and drinks. One of the goals of the strategy is to shift the protein ratio in the city’s diet from 40 to 60 percent plant-based by 2030.
The city council said that by endorsing the Plant Based Treaty, it was supporting the global call to cities, organizations, businesses and residents to contribute to combating the climate crisis by changing dietary patterns. The council also said that the consumption of more plant-based proteins is better for the health of people and animals, the climate impact, and animal welfare.
The city council also pledged to implement its own actions to support the treaty, such as promoting plant-based diets and sustainable foods, providing plant-based options in public catering, and engaging with stakeholders and citizens to raise awareness and participation.
How did the treaty’s supporters react?
The Plant Based Treaty welcomed Amsterdam’s endorsement and praised the city for its leadership and vision. The treaty’s campaign manager, Roxy Velez, said: “We are thrilled that Amsterdam has become the first EU capital to endorse the Plant Based Treaty. This is a huge step forward for the movement and a clear signal that cities are ready to take action on food systems and climate change.”
The treaty’s supporters also celebrated the endorsement by hosting a food giveaway at Museumplein in Amsterdam, where they distributed free plant-based burgers, sausages and cheese to the public. They also encouraged people to sign the treaty as individuals and to spread the word on social media using the hashtag #PlantBasedTreaty.
The treaty’s supporters hope that Amsterdam’s endorsement will inspire other cities and countries to follow suit and join the global movement. They also plan to continue their advocacy and outreach efforts to reach more people and organizations. Their ultimate goal is to pressure national governments to negotiate an international Plant Based Treaty as a companion to the UNFCCC Paris Agreement.