Cop28 President-designate Dr Sultan Al Jaber was received by Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday.
They discussed the crucial role of faith leaders in advancing the climate agenda at Cop28. The Cop28 UN climate summit will begin in Dubai in November.
During Wednesday's meeting, Dr Al Jaber thanked the Vatican for its climate action advocacy and invited Pope Francis to participate in the World Climate Action Summit at Cop28.
The Cop28 Presidency has developed a series of inter-faith initiatives to be held in the lead-up to and during Cop28 to further the role of faith communities in the global climate dialogue.
This includes a summit for faith leaders - the Confluence of Conscience - to be held on November 6 and 7 in Abu Dhabi.
The event has been organised by the Muslim Council of Elders, in partnership with the Cop28 Presidency, the UN Environment Programme and the Catholic Church.
Senior representatives of the world's major religions will be joined by academics and environmental experts to discuss the ethical duty of faith leaders to address the climate crisis.
The gathering will also explore how faith and science can be combined to engage communities in meaningful action.
Food systems and agriculture
Earlier, Dr Jaber, who is also the UAE's Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology, met Qu Dongyu, director-general of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, in Rome.
Dr Al Jaber and Mr Qu discussed Cop28's commitment to ensuring that food systems and agriculture remain at the heart of climate action efforts.
During the meeting, Dr Al Jaber said the Cop28 Presidency will launch the leader-level Emirates Declaration on Resilient Food Systems, Sustainable Agriculture, and Climate Action at the World Food Forum, taking place this month in Rome.
The milestone declaration recognises the indisputable links between food systems, agriculture, and climate change and invites national governments to align their national food systems and agriculture strategies with their Nationally Determined Contributions, National Adaptation Plans, and National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans.
In September, Dr Al Jaber said the global community "has not given adequate attention to the transformation of food systems, which is crucial for achieving the long-term goals of the Paris Agreement".
"Addressing the complex interconnections between food systems, agriculture, and climate is essential for both mitigation and adaptation efforts," he said.
"This integration must be a focal point in national strategies and is the cornerstone of the Cop28 Presidency's Declaration on food and climate."
The UAE’s Cop28 presidency previously said agriculture and food production would take centre stage at the climate summit in Dubai from November 30 to December 12.
In August, Kaveh Zahedi, director of the Office of Climate Change, Biodiversity and Environment at the Food and Agriculture Organisation, said countries had barely recovered from the coronavirus pandemic before a cost-of-living crisis hit and contributed to 700 million people globally now facing food insecurity.
He told The National at the time that the situation was being made worse by climate change and, when combined, these issues were “undermining hard-won development gains”.
“I don’t think you can separate the food crisis from the climate crisis or food security from climate solutions,” said Mr Zahedi. “They are absolutely intertwined.”
Italian PM meeting
On Tuesday, Dr Al Jaber met Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni to discuss climate action ahead of Cop28.
During the meeting, they discussed the importance of delivering on Cop28’s Climate Action Agenda to help accelerate global decarbonisation efforts.
Dr Al Jaber thanked Ms Meloni for supporting climate action, including scaling up clean energy while decarbonising the current energy system.
The Cop28 Presidency is advocating for the world to triple the world’s renewable energy capacity by 2030, while comprehensively eliminating emissions from all energy sources.
They also discussed the importance of strengthening adaptation and resilience measures worldwide, including through investments in food and water security, health, nature-based solutions and the protection of natural ecosystems.
“We reaffirm our commitment to strengthening the bilateral relationship between the UAE and Italy," Dr Al Jaber said.
"Our collaborative efforts within the framework of Cop28 and climate action are crucial in addressing the pressing challenges of climate change and building a sustainable future for all. Together, we can make a lasting impact on the global stage."