COP15: are leaders eating green?

COP15: are the leaders eating &ecolo?

Tofu or beef? Tomatoes from Quebec or Mexico? What will the dignitaries' plates contain at COP15 at the Palais des Congrès de Montréal, an event dedicated to animal and plant biodiversity? Local, ecological and ethical products? Metro attempted to get a response. 

First observation: the set is quite diversified and includes vegetarian and vegan meals, rejoices the analyst in healthy food autonomy of Équiterre, Carole-Anne Lapierre, looking at the menu offered by the company Capital Traiteur. < /p>

“It's quite a challenge to feed so many people in a healthy way,” she says. 

A lot of meals contain red meat. < /p>

“We made the choice to serve, for example, a beef sandwich”, underlines the analyst, recalling that it is the meat which emits the most greenhouse gases (GHG). 

She also criticizes the omnipresence of cheese in meals, even in those that are vegetarian, which is problematic since dairy products also emit a lot of GHGs. 

The food that really surprised me was tuna. Until recently there was overfishing and it was a highly endangered species.

Carole-Anne Lapierre, healthy food autonomy analyst for Équiterre

In addition to the aforementioned meats and fish, researcher at the Institute for Socioeconomic Research and Information (IRIS) Colin Pratte criticizes the presence of fruits such as bananas and avocados on the menu.  

“These foods refer in turn to intensive farming and agriculture, non-renewable fisheries and a globalized food market, all of which are known causes of biodiversity loss,” says the researcher, explaining that these practices contribute to soil depletion, deforestation and habitat loss. 

“The interesting thing about menus that try to give themselves an ethical veneer is that 'we often proceed on the mode of addition,' he observes.

Alongside the meat options, we will add vegetarian options. But, just like the question of the energy transition, we must be more in a logic of substitution and not of addition.

Colin Pratte, researcher at IRIS

Little information on the origin 

Carole-Anne Lapierre also regrets that we have little information on the origin of food and that we has not relied more on local and seasonal products. 

Despite the presence of a poutine among the meals offered, which is a nice nod to Quebec according to the analyst, the latter did “not feel that the set was representative of a Quebec menu or a northern menu.” 

“I see fruit everywhere, but I don't really see seasonal vegetables and fruits from here. We are not obliged to stick to that, but there, they are completely absent. There's no squash, no cabbage, none of that.”   

Carole-Anne Lapierre would also have liked us to take this opportunity to promote products from the boreal forest.  

Composting and food surpluses  

The Palais media team retorts that the foods are selected with the desire to encourage Quebec producers for seasonal products. 

“Our team is positioned for the development of local producers, in particular thanks to a supply mainly from Quebec, specifies the Palais des congrès. Several products and herbs come directly from our green roof, managed in partnership with AU/LAB, the Urban Agriculture Laboratory linked to the Institute of Environmental Sciences at UQAM.”  

We add that any food surpluses will be redistributed to the Maison du Père, a partner of the Palais des Congrès for several years. 

“Finally, almost all containers used during COP15 will be 100% compostable,” says the Palais des Congrès.

A green brigade will be mobilized on site during meal times to assist international delegates in proper sorting.

The Palais media team

Obstacle course

Obtaining information on the meals offered was no small feat, requiring half a dozen email reminders.

To simply access the menu, a first probe was made at the Palais des Congrès on November 21. After a telephone conversation the same day with a member of the Palace media team, we were hopeful that we would get the answers to our questions, but finally, three days later, we were informed by email that the information was confidential.

“After verification, it turns out that this information about catering services, since it is contained in a contract with the event organizer, is protected by a confidentiality clause”, can we read in said email. 

Metrotherefore contacted the Palais des Congrès in order to understand the reasons behind this confidentiality clause. As a service provider, the latter is “obligated to respect the confidential content of any contract entered into with its clients as well as the terms and conditions associated therewith”. The Palais media team invited us in a second email to get in touch directly with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity based in Montreal, organizer of the event.  

Next this advice, Métro tried to communicate with this organization, but without success. Faced with the lack of response, we therefore turned directly to Environment and Climate Change Canada, a COP15 partner.  

The Government of Canada department finally gave us access on the 1st December on the Capital Traiteur platform allowing us to have an idea of ​​the meals that will be offered to dignitaries. 

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