ABU DHABI - Tom Vilsack, United States Secretary of Agriculture, has affirmed that the UAE is a firm and committed partner for climate action and is in their very interest to steward climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation globally.

In a statement to the Emirates News Agency (WAM) on the sidelines of COP27, currently being held in Sharm El Sheikh, Vilsack expressed confidence that the UAE will bring together an exceptional COP28, commending the efforts of Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and the Environment, in this regard.

He added that in the agricultural sector, innovative products and methods have enabled the nation to turn deserts into farms. An example of such is Bustanica, the world’s largest vertical farm, launched in July 2022 as a joint venture between Emirates Flight Catering and US-based Crop One.

The country’s latest project in this space is the Food Tech Valley, a first-of-its kind AgTech city that aims to serve as a testbed for pioneering innovations that drive the transition to sustainable food systems.

“These innovations demonstrate leadership and commitment from the UAE and make it one of the most active countries in climate action,” he noted.

Regarding the importance of the COP27 climate conference, Vilsack said, "I'm excited to be in Egypt and participate in COP27 as it gives us an opportunity, as the United States Department of Agriculture, to share US knowledge and experience on the global stage in climate-smart agricultural practices. I believe it is an opportunity for us to work with our Aim for Climate Ministerial (AIM) for Climate co-lead, the UAE, and our growing network of over 275 partners, to spur innovation in climate-smart agriculture and food systems, to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and incomes, promote regenerative and sustainable practices, enable ways in which methane can be reduced, and ways in which we can use fertiliser more efficiently.

He added that AIM for Climate was launched for two goals: first, to raise awareness of the importance of innovation in climate-smart agriculture to address climate challenges and second, to accelerate that innovation.

Vilsack continued, "The response has been phenomenal, and we are pleased to be here at COP27 to announce more than doubling of the investment in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation, initially from the $4 billion announced at COP26 to now over $8 billion, which includes over $1 billion from 30 innovation sprints. We have also tripled our number of partners, which now stands at 275.

“The support from the private sector helps put resources into programs, ideas, thoughts, and technologies that will help innovate our way to a more adaptable and mitigated agricultural sector.”

He stated that Washington will be hosting the AIM for Climate Summit on 8th-10th May, 2023, convening partners to increase and accelerate investment in and support for climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation.

Supported by the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research, this premier global event, exclusively for AIM for Climate partners, will provide a game-changing platform to raise ambition, build collaborations, and share knowledge on innovative solutions in the lead-up to COP28 in the UAE.