The UAE's multilateralism can help protect the environment

The new I2U2 initiative is an important moment in the global effort to fight climate change

Mangrove Beach, in Umm Al Quwain. The National
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On July 14, four countries – India, Israel, the UAE and the US – came together on the occasion of US President Joseph Biden’s visit to the region to announce the I2U2 initiative.

I2U2 is a group focused on economic co-operation through joint investments in strategic sectors. It aims to mobilise private sector capital and expertise to help modernise infrastructure, decarbonise industries, enhance public health and promote the development of green technologies.

I2U2 projects will not only serve the UAE, but also future generations across the region and beyond. With more than 100 million young people in the Middle East alone, we have the largest demographic in our region’s history to transition to adulthood. I2U2 projects will be a symbol of hope for these youth, granting them greater opportunities to be agents of change and progress.

Two projects to be implemented under the I2U2 stand out in particular. First, I2U2 private sector partners will establish a fully integrated food and agricultural park to promote climate-smart agricultural innovation in I2U2 countries while building climate change mitigation and resilience in agriculture. The food and agri-park, which will be based in India and led by ADQ, a UAE-based holding company, will promote green leadership as we transition to more sustainable methods to ensure food security.

US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid attend the first virtual meeting of the I2U2 group. Reuters

Second, the I2U2 group will champion a $330 million hybrid renewable project in India’s Gujarat State consisting of 300 megawatts of wind and solar capacity. The India and US-led Dwarka solar wind hybrid project is the first of its kind and will mobilise joint action in clean energy.

As a major energy producer that has embraced sustainability, the UAE is committed to driving progress, based on the belief that the world is vulnerable to the effects of climate change, from political instability to food insecurity.

These projects are simply two of many that are slated to drastically improve lives, boost economic growth and bolster our collective defences against the issues of tomorrow. The race against time continues, and the UAE is determined to remain at the forefront of efforts to address these challenges alongside our international partners. Our participation in the I2U2 partnership showcases strong leadership in the Arab world and globally in key areas such as climate change mitigation.

In fact, the UAE’s contributions to I2U2 will go well beyond financing, with deep technical and project experience adding substantial value to the projects under consideration. The UAE, as the home to Irena and Masdar – two of the world’s leading clean energy and sustainability bodies – will proudly contribute its expertise to I2U2 projects. Together, we can accelerate progress by leveraging each other’s strengths.

One must only look to the UAE’s achievements in fostering a more peaceful, stable and prosperous region to understand how the I2U2 initiative will forever change how our countries engage with each other. Two years ago, the UAE and Israel signed the historic Abraham Accords with US support. In the years since, our countries have mobilised international action on key files such as global health, investment, food security, agriculture and advanced technology. Now, the total non-oil trade value between the UAE and Israel is expected to reach $5 billion by the end of 2022.  Recently, the UAE also concluded Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (CEPAs) with India, Israel and Indonesia, pledging to shorten trade routes and drastically increase the ease of doing business. These CEPAs signed by the UAE in the first half of 2022 are expected to grow the national economy by 2.6 per cent by 2030 and deepen the bonds of friendship between our countries, including the two I2U2 partners with which we signed a CEPA.

UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed delivers the opening speech during the virtual I2U2 summit, seen alongside Abdullah bin Zayed, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. Presidential Court

The I2U2 initiative champions that same spirit of co-operation and solidarity. By connecting Asia to the Middle East and North America, the initiative will usher in the next era of partnership between our countries to achieve our shared aim of growth and development for our peoples.

I2U2 is a manifestation of the various opportunities for co-operation between our economies, which hold the common values of peace, tolerance and prosperity. Although I2U2 countries’ borders do not meet geographically, we are aligned in terms of our vision of peaceful progress in the region and beyond.

As we in the UAE look to the next 50 years of our development, our I2U2 partners will stand side by side in developing innovative solutions to ensure our people live healthier, longer and more enriching lives. We, too, will double down on efforts to craft a better world for all. That is the enduring power of multilateralism and the spirit of co-operation that will continue to drive us forward.

Published: July 18, 2022, 4:00 AM
Updated: July 19, 2022, 1:05 PM
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