What They’re Saying in the Heartland: COP27 and America’s Global Climate Leadership

No matter where you live on this earth, the impact of climate shocks are felt globally. The swings between flooding and drought impact the flow and availability of water as evidenced in the Horn of Africa and Britain, but also closer to America’s Heartland in Nebraska and Missouri which puts sustained and adequate food production at risk.

Approximately 75 percent of U.S. farmland used to grow winter wheat is experiencing drought, including nine of every 10 acres in Kansas – a top wheat producing state. As such, only 28 percent of the U.S. winter wheat crop is rated in “good” or “excellent” condition—a drop of almost 20 percent since last year. This not only decreases yields and affects food access, but it also threatens America’s economic growth. Reports suggests that the supply chain impacts from the Mississippi River’s historically low water levels may cost the U.S. economy $20 billion due to lost exports.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP) is an annual meeting of international stakeholders such as governments, private sector organizations, non-governmental organizations, think tanks, philanthropies, and others to assess global progress in addressing climate change and to agree on new actions to limit extreme rises in temperatures. This year’s conference, COP27—which began on November 8 and concludes on November 18 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt—offers an opportunity for the United States to show how seriously it is addressing the drivers of climate change and easing its effects on low-and middle-income countries, as well as strengthening preparedness at home for more acute climate shocks. President Joe Biden, bipartisan members of Congress, private sector leaders, and NGO organizations are attending the conference as evidence of that action.

Here is what some of USGLC’s State Advisory Committee leaders have to say about America’s role in the world leading climate action at COP27.

Why is consistent access to water so important to your work, and why is it so important that America leads globally to address the effects of climate change on water access?


“Wherever we find water, we find life. The obverse is also true. It is imperative that we balance water consumption and agricultural production. Sorghum uses one-third of the water of comparable grains and boasts an exemplary nutritional profile. As the world’s largest producer of sorghum, the United States has an opportunity to lead the way in regard to developing value-added and healthy markets for this climate-smart grain.”

Nate Blum, Executive Director, Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board, Nebraska Sorghum Producers Association


“Farmers everywhere rely on adequate and reliable sources of water for production. As climate change alters the timing and availability of rainfall and disrupts the recharge of aquifers in regions reliant on below-ground sources of water, the risks to agricultural production and those who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods multiply. Trade in agriculture is essential to feeding a growing world, and for this reason reliable access to water for American farmers is key to global food security.”

Gerald Shively, Associate Dean and Director of International programs in Agriculture, Purdue University


“EOS works with more than 2,000 rural communities serving over 1 million people and we have seen the direct effects of the change in climate in these water systems. Climate change impacts people’s rights to drinking water by causing floods, droughts, changes in precipitation, and extreme temperatures that result in water scarcity, contaminated drinking water, damaged facilities, and the spread of diseases that have rippling effects on livelihoods and economic productivity.”

Wesley Meier, Co-Founder and CEO, EOS International

What do you want leaders at this global climate conference to know from leaders in America’s Heartland, like yourself?


“Improving agricultural productivity strengthens rural economies and provides critical natural resources to a nation’s industrial centers. This has been proven not only studying the history of the United States, but other countries as well such as Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and New Zealand. One common element across all these productive agricultural countries is the embracing of appropriate technologies and modern cropping practices. Therefore, the only way forward to reduce poverty and malnutrition among developing nations, especially under the conditions of climate change, is through the adoption of appropriate technologies and modern cropping practices…The US delegation needs to lead the global community to become much more intentional about improving agricultural productivity as the way to meet future food demand and thrive even as the climate is changing.”

Peter Goldsmith, Professor at the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Executive Director of i1i Program


“Technology and policy alone will not be able to provide sustainable solutions. Appropriate and inclusive processes, partnerships, and systems need to be put in place. To make change, we need to rethink the top-down approach to service delivery and climate adaptation as these are less effective than working with communities at the local level. We have seen the successes of community-driven approaches.”

Wesley Meier, EOS International

What does U.S. leadership on climate action mean to you?


“U.S. leadership means promoting and engaging in constructive dialogue with global partners to frame the issues, identify solutions, and support a policy agenda that seeks to apply scientific and evidence-based solutions in a timely manner.”

Gerald Shively, Purdue University


“Leadership on climate change must incorporate practical solutions that are formulated in partnership rather than prescription. Regional climate, soil, water, social, and cultural differences matter and must be considered. The U.S. is in a position to lead through example at home and as a conscientious partner abroad.”

Nate Blum, Nebraska Sorghum Producers Association


“The US is a global leader in many things and should also be a leader in climate change solutions. I hope that US companies, organizations, and the government can take the steps necessary to enact change, therefore enabling other countries to follow.”

Wesley Meier, EOS International