Home » HE Mariam Almheiri unveils ‘COP First’ as UAE targets Climate Conscious Catering

HE Mariam Almheiri unveils ‘COP First’ as UAE targets Climate Conscious Catering

by Madaline Dunn

Last week, Her Excellency Mariam Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment and Food System Lead at COP28 UAE, led a four-day workshop designed to motivate the adoption of climate-conscious catering and drive the success of its adoption by F&B vendors at COP28, at Expo City Dubai and beyond.

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) and COP28 said they are actively looking to partner with organisations and individuals who “exemplify the sustainability principles of COP28” and “stand with the Ministry” to drive lasting change in the UAE and globally. 

HE Almheiri said: “Our vision for COP28 is that it will provide delegates with a 360-degree understanding of the climate challenges the world faces. We know that our food systems are intrinsically linked to the fate of our natural world, and so we have made the progressive decision to ensure that we explore how the catering provided across the event can be responsible and climate conscious, helping to echo the emphasis we have placed on the Emirates Declaration.”

HE continued: “The approach, which is a ‘COP first’ centers around the Sustainable Catering Strategy developed for COP28 and is intended to demonstrate the benefits and lasting legacy.”

The Sustainable Catering Strategy is intended to showcase the potential to deliver sustainable food and beverages at scale. 

MOCCAE and COP28 said they are looking for F&B partners who share that vision. 

The strategy, which has not been implemented at a COP before, has a core commitment to deliver a 2/3 plant-based menu, limit the carbon and water intensity of food served, and ensure a focus on nutrition, portion sizes, affordability and minimising waste.

HE Almheiri said: “Our resolve to reimagine the catering provided to COP delegates reflects the sustainability approach we follow in all sectors, especially in food systems. We want to demonstrate the UAEs commitment to the COP process in every way we can.”

HE concluded: “The programme will require significant engagement and buy-in from the caterers at the event, but I’m confident the will is there. The food will need to be enjoyable to eat, and we will work hard to ensure the concept is communicated in an informative and engaging way to attendees, because those two components are vital for bring about behaviour change.”

To support the delivery and legacy of this initiative, the four-day workshop featured high-profile local and global chefs from the Chefs’ Manifesto network, in a two-day session at the International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA), with two clear objectives. 

The first was to build momentum for the sustainable catering offering by developing dishes and training materials to support the implementation of the strategy at the event.

The second, at the SEE Institute, was to bring together partner organisations like SDG2 Advocacy Hub, Ne’ma, ICBA, etc, with leading chefs from the Chefs’ Manifesto community and beyond. 

The workshop featured talks and panel discussions from local food producers, scientists, nutritionists, sustainability experts and the COP28 team. 

It intended to demonstrate ways in which sustainable food can be delivered at a large-scale event such as a COP, while also being “nutritious, tasty, affordable and climate-friendly.” 

By engaging the wider public and community through the MOCCAE and COP28 social media channels, the workshop was designed to have a wide reach, engaging not only those who visit COP28, but also those who hear about it and read about it with sustainable catering.

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