DUBAI - Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, stressed the pressing need for substantial investments in innovative solutions that empower smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

These solutions should provide farmers with the necessary tools and resources to improve their agricultural practices, guarantee food security, and adapt effectively to the challenges posed by climate change.

Gates underscored the critical role of addressing the needs of smallholder farmers as an indispensable component of the global climate agenda.

This comes on the occasion of the partnership between the UAE and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, announced today at COP28, with a value of AED735 million to support food systems, agricultural innovation, and climate action.

CGIAR, the world’s largest publicly funded agriculture research network, plays a critical role in supporting resilient, sustainable food production in a climate-stressed world. Earlier this week, it launched a three-year investment case to secure US$4 billion by 2027, helping CGIAR to reach 500 million farmers by 2030 with climate adaptation innovations, and to reduce emissions from the agriculture sector by 1 gigaton per year—the equivalent of eliminating emissions from more than 200 million cars.

“We are ready to quickly scale up proven innovations that already are helping farmers in vulnerable regions like Africa and South Asia adapt to more challenging climate conditions,” said Professor Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, chair, CGIAR System Board. “That includes increasing access to improved varieties of naturally stress-tolerant crops like cassava and millets, employing new tools and strategies farmers are using to support healthy ecosystems by reviving degraded lands, and providing long-range climate forecasts that help farmers anticipate and navigate weather extremes and shifting rainfall patterns.”

The foundation’s $100 million investment announced today, which matches the UAE’s commitment of $100 million, will support organisations, like the CGIAR, that are at the forefront of developing agricultural innovations. Additional foundation funding will support the work of AIM4Scale, a new climate adaptation initiative to be launched by the UAE. The foundation will also join partner countries, philanthropies, and financial institutions to help accelerate access to high-impact agricultural innovations for small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia by reducing policy and funding-related barriers.

For over 50 years, CGIAR’s work has helped save millions of lives and trillions of dollars globally. Its focus on smallholder farmers has delivered humanitarian benefits that rival the lifesaving power of vaccines. It consistently delivers high-impact innovations at a very low cost, with every dollar invested in its work returning $10 in benefits for local farming communities. With the foundation’s commitment announced today, it has exceeded its current pledge to CGIAR of $315 million and joins a growing global movement for action on climate adaptation. This includes new funding from donor countries to CGIAR totalling close to $800 million for the 2023-2024 funding cycle.