UAE and US aim to raise additional $4bn in drive to bolster food security

Alliance doubles investment pledge to encourage switch to sustainable farming

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, August 24, 2020.   
Sean Lee at the lettuce hydroponics farm at the Officers Club, Abu Dhabi.
Victor Besa /The National
Section:  NA
Reporter:  Anna Zacharias
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A UAE and US-led global coalition to enhance food security and limit the impact of climate change has announced a plan to double its investment target from $4 billion to $8bn by the time Cop27 begins in Egypt this November.

The Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) had earlier pledged $4bn of new investments in climate-smart agriculture and inventive food systems at the Cop26 in Glasgow in November last year with the UAE and the US taking the lead.

The new target was announced after the group’s first ministerial-level meeting in Dubai on Monday that set the agenda before the UN climate change conference in Sharm El Sheikh later this year.

The projects will focus on working with small farm holders in low and middle income countries, methane reduction, emerging technologies and agro-ecological research.

The transformation to sustainable food systems is an urgent task and we don’t have a lot of time
Mariam Al Mheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment

“We all share a vision for making our food system innovative, resilient and ultimately sustainable through increasing investment in agriculture research and development,” Mariam Al Mheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, and Minister of State for Food Security, told a forum on food and agriculture at the Dubai Expo.

She spoke at the Expo after co-chairing the Aim for Climate ministerial meeting, with Thomas Vilsack, US agriculture secretary, among 30 ministers in attendance.

The Aim for Climate initiative has the support of more than 140 countries and non-government groups including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“The transformation to sustainable food systems is an urgent task and we don’t have a lot of time,” Ms Al Mheiri said.

“The UAE seeks to become a leading exporter of sustainable agricultural solutions for hot and arid climates.

“We are keen to share our experience with our partners and work with other countries to address critical challenges of our food systems.

“We see ourselves as an open lab to innovate, discover and put forward solutions.”

The UAE's vertical farms

The UAE in the past few years has harnessed technology to produce locally farmed salmon, berries and quinoa — food alien to a desert environment.

Agriculture plays a big role in the challenge of addressing climate change as it contributes about 25 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions.

The UAE-US led initiative is the first global agriculture and climate change coalition of its kind.

The two countries decided to collaborate to add momentum to research efforts to address global hunger and the climate crisis.

“You have got a huge agricultural country and a small import dependent country coming together to solve a global challenge and we have to solve this collectively,” she said.

Mr Vilsack described it as an “extraordinary day focused on the climate effort” and addressed the need for more collaboration.

“The single biggest thing is the passion … every single country is committed to this,” he said.

“They can’t do it alone, there has to be collaboration. There have to be partnerships.”

He said there was a strong commitment to work together to close the investment gap in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation.

"We are proud of the wide range of AIM for Climate partners working to deliver impactful solutions for all people."

Congratulating the UAE on a successful Expo, he praised the outlook of Dubai.

“I think it’s important for the world to know the attitude and mentality of the people here in Dubai,” Mr Vilsack said.

“There is an innovative spirit here that all of us around the world should emulate, there is a belief in a better and brighter future.”

Updated: February 22, 2022, 5:42 AM