At Opening Ceremony of IICA Conference, Minister of Environment of The United Arab Emirates, Host Country of COP28, Maintains That Global Climate Discussions Must Prioritize Agriculture

Mariam Bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri

San Jose (IICA) – Addressing her fellow agricultural colleagues of countries of the Americas, the Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates, Mariam Bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri, maintained that food systems and agriculture must be a top priority in the fight against climate change, for the benefit of the millions of farmers around the world and the millions of people suffering from hunger.

The Emirati minister delivered her message via a video that was projected at the Headquarters of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in San Jose, Costa Rica. Almheiri was among the senior officials who participated in the opening ceremony of the Conference of Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas 2023, which will conclude on Thursday, October 5.

She was invited to take part in the event given the fact that the city of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, will be hosting the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 28), on November 30.COP is the world’s most important environmental discussion forum.

For the second consecutive year, IICA will install a pavilion at the conference venue to enable ministers and producers to showcase their progress towards achieving greater agricultural sustainability in the hemisphere, which plays a key role in guaranteeing global food security.

The pavilion will also highlight the region’s decisive role in environmental preservation, given its wealth of natural resources and unique biodiversity. The UAE Minister noted that climate change has a considerable impact on the Latin American and Caribbean region, the largest net food exporter in the world. In that regard, she mentioned that the increase in temperature and decrease in rainfall in Central America, the northeast of Brazil and several parts of the Andean region could reduce productivity in the short term.

She added that climate change also impacts the United States and Canada, where heavy precipitation causes soil erosion and depletes soil nutrients. Almheiri remarked that this scenario reminds us “of the urgent need to transition to more inclusive, sustainable and resilient food production methods”, adding that “the relationship between our climate and our food systems has never been so close or so complex”.Innovations for small-scale farmers“Paradoxically, while agricultural production is increasing globally, more than 700 million people are going hungry to sleep every year, and one-third of food produced worldwide is lost before it reaches the final consumer, or it is wasted”, indicated Almheiri, who previously served as Minister of State for Food and Water Security.

Almheiri, who thanked the Director General of IICA, Manuel Otero, for inviting her to address the ministers of Agriculture of the Americas, announced that food systems and agriculture will be top priorities on the COP28 agenda. “We aim to work with governments and non-state actors, identify high potential innovations and scale them up so that they can reach smallholder farmers”, she explained. She also noted that efforts will be undertaken to develop tools to unlock greater investment in food and climate projects in developing countries.

“We’re determined, in partnership with you, to change the lives of the 3 billion people who are unable to afford the healthy diets they deserve. We want to support the 153 million children who are affected by acute food insecurity”, she said. In the same vein, Almheiri considered the topic of IICA’s Conference of Ministers of Agriculture of the Americas, “A Hemispheric Partnership for Food Security and Sustainable Development”, to be very timely, and stressed the need for the public and private sectors to engage in coordinated work to build a more productive and resilient agriculture sector.

About IICAIICA is the specialized agency for agriculture in the Inter-American system, with a mission to encourage, promote and support its 34 Member States in their efforts to achieve agricultural development and rural well-being through international technical cooperation of excellence.

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