UAE to lead global drive for innovations in agriculture

Filed on April 24, 2021 | Last updated on April 24, 2021 at 12.33 am
Sheikh Mohammed addresses the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate. — Wam

Sheikh Mohammed unveils Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate at the virtual Leaders Summit hosted by Joe Biden

The UAE is set to lead a new global movement that will accelerate agricultural innovation and transform food systems over the next five years to address climate change.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, unveiled the Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) on Friday, as he spoke at the virtual Leaders Summit on Climate, hosted by US President Joe Biden.

“Climate change is not a temporary concern, but a global challenge that is here to stay. We must unite our efforts to safeguard the planet for future generations or risk paying heavier costs in the future,” Sheikh Mohammed said, addressing the 40 world leaders who took part in the summit.

The UAE, along with the US, will be pioneering the initiative with the support of the UK, Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Singapore, Australia and Uruguay.

With a growing population, the world’s vulnerable food production is under threat. The heat and weather changes brought on by the crisis have undermined longstanding agricultural practices and forced many farmers into poverty. It’s high time that new technologies were developed to help the sector cope with climate change and all its repercussions. This is where the UAE-US’ pioneering movement comes in.

AIM for Climate will address the challenges that the agricultural sector has been reeling under. It will tackle emissions, food security and water security. The sector is currently responsible for 24 per cent of all greenhouse gas emissions, and as the world’s population continues to grow, innovations in efficient, productive farming techniques can reduce the sector’s environmental impacts, make healthy food available, and create new economic opportunities, skills and jobs.

Moving beyond the agriculture sector, Sheikh Mohammed reaffirmed the country’s commitment to transforming the challenges of climate change into future opportunities for the next generation. He spoke of the UAE’s vision for the environment and the several milestones the country has crossed to create a greener world.

“Although the UAE is one of the largest oil exporting countries in the world, we made a strategic decision 15 years ago to invest in renewable energy and low-carbon technology,” he said.

“Today, we operate two of the largest solar plants in the world and we will soon break ground on a third that is even larger...We believe that renewable energy is the answer to building a better future for humanity.”

The UAE was also the first country in the Middle East to pioneer carbon capture and storage technology, and its oil sector is the lowest carbon emitter in the world, he added.

“Today, we are ahead of a new opportunity with the leadership of President Biden, and we look forward to working together to unlock the major opportunities born from the pressing challenge of climate change,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

The Leaders Summit sets a milestone on the road to the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow and is designed to increase the chances for meaningful outcomes on global climate action at COP26.

Among the key initiatives set to be launched at COP26 in November is the UAE-US’ AIM for Climate initiative.

Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Minister for Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change, said the initiative throws the spotlight on a sector that has been “historically overlooked when it comes to climate action”.

“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. AIM for Climate will build on the UAE’s experience and the legacy of Sheikh Zayed in proactively adopting, investing in and promoting new technologies to tackle climate change,” Al Jaber said.

In the UAE, developing technologies to boost local agricultural production has always been part of the national agenda. By 2051, it aspires to be a world-leading hub in innovation-driven food security.

US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry said: “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. AIM for Climate can serve as a unique platform for cooperation among many countries on these shared challenges.”

Mariam Almheiri, Minister of State for Food and Water Security, said the initiative is an important step to strengthen global food security and support the UN’s sustainable development goals.

“We are proud to take part in this pioneering initiative, which contributes to the adoption of clean and renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions and facilitates the transition towards sustainable food systems,” Almheiri said.

Once launched at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November (COP26), AIM for Climate will catalyse greater investment in agricultural innovation and research and development to help raise global ambition and underpin more rapid and transformative climate action in all countries.

Investments in agricultural innovation and research and development can enhance existing approaches and deliver new ways to sustainably increase agricultural productivity, improve livelihoods, and adapt and build resilience to climate change, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and sequestering carbon.

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