The UAE Minister for Climate Change and Environment, COP28 Food Systems Lead, Her Excellency Mariam Bint Mohammed Almheiri, has announced that the UAE will host the first-ever Ministerial Dialogue on Building Water-Resilient Food Systems in cooperation with Brazil during COP28.
During a speech delivered at the UN-organised World Food Day Conference in Rome, H.E Almheiri made a call for action – that climate change cannot be solved independently, and global collaboration is imperative in designing and implementing climate action mechanisms because environmental issues know no borders. H.E. also called for greater international collaboration to address the global challenge of food insecurity and underlined the focus of COP28 to be hosted in the UAE to usher in a new era of inclusive food finance.
H.E. Almheiri presented the UAE’s focus on delivering an inclusive climate crisis solution to an audience and speaker panel comprising global luminaries, including President of the Italian Republic, H.E. Sergio Mattarella; President of Ireland, H.E. Michael D. Higgins; Alvaro Lario, His Excellency Dr Qu Dongyu, Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations; President, International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and Cindy H. McCain, Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP).
The theme of the 2023 World Food Day is ‘water’, so H.E. Almheiri noted that worldwide, agriculture is the single largest consumer of freshwater – and the way we currently produce food is responsible for up to 33% of total global emissions, according to FAO data.
The Minister said: “Our vision for our Presidency of COP28 is that we must work together, share knowledge and ideas to find a united solution to ensure no one is left behind. We need to be reminded of the harsh realities of what happens when the balance of water in our food systems fails us.
Thanking the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations for its World Food Day focus on the vital issue of water, H.E. added: “From devastating famines to severe droughts and life-threatening floods, we are seeing their frequency spike as the globe is impacted by climate change. Feeding the world’s growing population equitably and sustainably cannot be achieved without water.”
She added: “How we manage the rapid rise in demand, production, distribution and consumption of food will be one of the single biggest challenges we face in the fight against climate change — and is something the UAE will put front and centre at COP28.”
The Minister urged nations to sign the Emirates Declaration on Resilient Food Systems, Sustainable Agriculture, and Climate Action and, in doing so, commit to aligning national food systems and agricultural strategies with Nationally Determined Contributions, National Adaptation Plans and National Biodiversity Strategies.
She added that during COP28, on December 10th 2023, the UAE will host the first-ever Ministerial Dialogue on Building Water-Resilient Food Systems in partnership with Brazil.
This ground-breaking session will bring together ministers, the private sector, international organisations and civil society to assess water and food resilience within National Determined Contributions and National Action Plans.
“COP28 represents the opportunity to move the world away from relief to climate-resilient development. We must invest in adaptation solutions with a focus on food and water, to advance resilient and sustainable development.
“The challenge facing us in securing our food systems for the future and tackling climate change are significant. But the spirit of inclusivity and collective responsibility must inspire us all to act. Our future and the future of our children depends on it,” concluded the Minister.
The annual World Food Day event included special messages from His Holiness Pope Francis, and from UN Secretary-General António Guterres, underlining the crucial global importance of mitigating the effects of climate change.