Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, UAE Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, on Friday launched a plan with Britain, the US and others to develop technology that helps farmers in developing nations cope with the effects of climate change.
Sheikh Mohammed spoke at US President Joe Biden's two-day gathering of 40 world leaders to get the world's biggest economies to cut emissions of planet-heating gases and keep rising temperatures under control.
“I am pleased to announce that the UAE will be partnering with a group of champions to launch the Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate,” Sheikh Mohammed said.
“This is a new initiative to support research and development and innovation for food systems over the next five years.”
Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Singapore, Australia and Uruguay are also involved in the plan.
The planet has so far warmed by 1.2°C and is headed for at least 3°C this century. Globally, farmers are struggling against the effects of increasingly frequent droughts, flash floods and soil degradation.
According to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Agency, climate change has affected rainfall patterns, drought, flooding and the distribution of locusts and other pests, threatening the livelihoods of smallholder and subsistence farmers.
The UAE has over the decades developed know-how in irrigation, water management to use its arid soil for farming. The mission will focus on research and development of farming innovations. It remains unclear how much funding is associated with the project.
"Climate change is not a temporary concern," Sheikh Mohammed said.
“It is rather a global challenge that is ongoing. We must unite our efforts to safeguard the planet for the future generations or else risk paying heavier costs in the future.”
At the same session, Microsoft co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates praised the initiative, saying subsistence farmers in poor countries needed help to cope with the effects of climate change.
"We have to address the climate impacts that are going to come because of the heating that's already taken place," Mr Gates said. "This means accelerating agricultural innovation so that subsistence farmers can withstand the shocks that come with more unpredictable weather."
Dr Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister for Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change, said the plan promised "far-reaching and long-lasting socio-economic benefits".
"By investing in innovation and technology in the agricultural sector, we can unlock opportunities for effective mitigation and adaptation, feed growing populations in resource-stressed areas, and create economic growth," Dr Al Jaber said.
US climate envoy John Kerry, who recently visited Abu Dhabi, said he was proud to be involved in the initiative.
"I was impressed by the ingenuity being applied to food and climate challenges during my recent trip to the UAE, and know that we all stand to benefit by sharing best practices and raising innovation ambition when it comes to climate-smart agriculture," Mr Kerry said.
"AIM for Climate can serve as a unique platform for co-operation among many countries on these shared challenges."
Mr Biden on Friday said America would boost co-operation with India, the UAE, Britain, Russia and other nations in efforts to tackle pollution, rising temperatures and the impacts of climate change.
At his gathering of 40 world leaders and business and technology chiefs, Mr Biden announced plans to work with India and Sweden on cleaning up the industrial sector and creating carbon-free power networks with the UK.
"And the agricultural sector, where we will launch the agriculture innovation mission for climate with the United Arab Emirates and other partners," Mr Biden said on the second day of his two-day climate summit.
"Also I'm very heartened by [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin's call yesterday for the world to collaborate on advanced carbon dioxide removal. And the United States looks forward to working with Russia and other countries in that endeavour as a great promise."