Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Business Forum takes off in Dubai

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A meeting is in progress in Dubai on Monday.

Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter

A first-of-a-kind 2021 to 2025 initiative by the UAE and the USA to combat global hunger, and at least mitigate, if not completely dissipate, all the existing and yet-to-happen challenges to feed the over seven billion people all over the world, has reaped an additional $4 billion (Dhs14,692,400,000.00) investments as of Monday.

The initiative is the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for C) and UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment Mariam Bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Al Mheiri announced the increased investments—up from the original $4 billion with $1 million (Dhs3,673,010,000.00) from the UAE—in  her 4:20pm “Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Business Forum” at the Dubai Exhibition Centre of Expo2020 Dubai.

Al Mheiri delivered her address after hosting a four-hour ministerial meeting—from which the additional $4 billion was gained—with visiting USA Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack, attended by 30 ministers from 30 other governments in the morning. Both expounded on the AIM for C thereafter through a discussion.

AIM for C was officially launched by the UAE and the USA on Nov. 3, 2021 from the Oct. 31 to Nov. 12 “26th United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference of Parties” more popularly known as “COP 26” in Glasgow, Scotland. From the US State Department website, it is mentioned that AIM for C was initially announced by US President Joe Biden at the April 23, 2021 “Leaders’ Summit” and that this has the backing of the UK, Australia, Brazil, Denmark, Israel, Singapore, and Uruguay.” The goal is “to increase and accelerate global research and development (R&D) on agriculture and food systems” against the background of seething climate change.

The business forum that presented challenges and ongoing solutions by 20 countries to overcome problems in feeding the projected 10 billion global population by 2020, was co-organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and New Zealand. Early on interviewed, New Zealand Consul General in Dubai and the Northern Emirates Kevin McKenna told Gulf Today they were chosen to “co-curate” as it had been identified the New Zealand strength in sustainable food systems despite of how small and how far the country is to the rest of the world: “We are a natural leader in this area and have a lot of learnings to share from the transformation of our own farming and food industries. We have an excellent relationship with the (UAE) and I consider it New Zealand’s strongest relationship in the Middle East region. Although the (Novel Coronavirus) pandemic has had an impact on face-to-face meetings and the ability to pursue in-person cultural and educational exchanges, we have continued to engage virtually with our counterparts and there is particular interest from the UAE currently in New Zealand’s agritech, food security and food safety solutions.”

In her address and before mentioning the $4 billion new investments to top the original $4 billion sealed in 2021, Al Mheiri batted for a united stand and much closer working relations among nations in order to hasten the invention of the much-needed innovations surrounding the food ecosystem. She was happy to note that the morning ministerial meeting was flowing with positivity with all the participants eager to share their ideas on technological know-how among other projects to reinvigorate global agriculture and food security: “It is important for us to understand that food systems (are among the issues) we have. Food systems contribute to one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions.”

Describing the UAE as a “known hub for food trade” as well as an “open food lab,” with the leadership “keen” at overcoming everything that deters food security, Al Mheiri also said that prospects still exist in connection to “sustainable solutions” against the backdrop of the “hot and arid climate. In a few days is the ‘Food for Future Summit.’ Let us roll up our sleeves to (achieve UN Sustainable Development Goal Number 2) Zero Hunger.”   

From the panel discussion with US Secretary Vilsack, Al Mheiri quipped that people may be wondering why a small non-agricultural country like the UAE, had partnered with the US, its exact opposite in the realm of global food production. She said it is the zeal of both countries in the acceleration of food production R&D that brought them together with the UAE having been given the chance to also produce despite harsh climatic conditions “berries, salmon, quinoa.” It was a call that what the world needs are partnerships and the contributions from everyone such as academicians, entrepreneurs and investors.   

On what had been discussed at the morning ministerial meeting, USA Secretary Vilsack said that the “innovation sprints” which are “the increase in aggregate self-financed investments from volunteer non-government partners” also increased with the boarding in of IBM.

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