- At the summit, which took place in Tanzania, Her Excellency emphasized the importance of the COP28 Food Systems and Agriculture Agenda and underlined the UAE’s support for African nations.
- Her Excellency also invited African nations to join international initiatives such as the Mangrove Alliance and AIM for Climate, to accelerate global climate action.
- At the forum’s Presidential Summit, Her Excellency spoke about the importance of youth engagement, innovation, and international collaboration in food system transformation. During the event, Her Excellency’s comments received the full endorsement of William Ruto, President of Kenya.
Dubai: Her Excellency Mariam Bint Mohammed Almheiri, the UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, galvanized support for global food system transformation and built momentum for COP28, the UN Climate Change Conference hosted by the UAE, during her interactions with African ministers and leaders at the Africa Food Systems Forum (AGRF). The forum, which was organised by AGRA, took place during a historic week for UAE – Africa relations, after the UAE pledged $4.5 billion in support of clean energy projects at the Africa Climate Summit.
Speaking at the AGRF, Her Excellency Mariam Almheiri, who is also COP28 Food Systems Lead, said: “This has been a pivotal and historic week for the African continent. Just a few days ago, the Nairobi Declaration was endorsed in addition to billions of dollars in commitments to enable African countries achieve inclusive green growth in the face of climate change.
“On behalf of the UAE, we are truly honored to make our $4.5 billion contribution to unlock Africa’s clean energy potential. Further, our discussions at this Forum reaffirm the need to transform food systems to make them more resilient and inclusive and leverage them as engines of economic growth and prosperity for all. These events have also set a firm foundation for COP28, where energy, finance and food will be key elements of the UAE’s COP28 presidency agenda.”
Her Excellency took part in a round table discussion focused on sustainable food system transformation and highlighted the importance of the COP28 Food Systems and Agriculture Agenda – which she launched at the UN Food Systems Summit +2 Stocktaking Moment in Rome in July.
Her Excellency reiterated the central aims of the agenda: galvanizing national leadership, encouraging involvement from non-state actors, innovation scaling, and finance. She also called upon African nations to signal their commitment to working towards adaptation and mitigation across food systems by signing the Leaders Declaration on Food Systems, Agriculture and Climate Action.
At a presidential session entitled ‘The Great Debate: Can Africa Feed Itself?’, Her Excellency made a compelling speech, in which she addressed African nations and called on them to sign the Leaders Declaration on Food Systems, Agriculture and Climate Action. She reminded those gathered that signing the Leaders Declaration is a powerful way to commit to wholesale food system transformation. The event was attended by the Presidents of several African nations, including H.E. Samia Suluhu Hassan, president of Tanzania; William Ruto, president of Kenya; Macky Sall, president of Senegal; and Evariste Ndayishimiye, president of Burundi.
The presidential session was one of the highlights of the Africa Food Systems Forum, and was made up of several different panel discussions and activities. During the session, Her Excellency spoke about the importance of youth engagement in climate action. She also emphasized the crucial role that innovation plays in food system transformation and encouraged nations to share technology and knowledge in order to drive change. William Ruto, the President of Kenya then made a speech in which he fully endorsed the comments made by Her Excellency.
HE urged African nations to join the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate), which the UAE co-leads with the USA. This initiative, which has over 500 international partners, has raised $13 billion in investment for climate-smart agriculture and food system innovation. Her Excellency also called upon African nations join the Mangrove Alliance for Climate, a project which the UAE launched in partnership with Indonesia, to protect and restore vital mangrove populations across the world.
Her Excellency Mariam Almheiri also addressed a COP28 ministerial event in which she reviewed and strengthened the Leaders Declaration on Food Systems, Agriculture and Climate Action with the input of African nations. This provided an invaluable opportunity to further international collaboration and ensure that the Leadership Declaration meets the needs of countries across Africa.
Speaking at the ministerial event, Her Excellency said: “Climate change is a present, intensifying crisis that demands our immediate attention,” she said; “To address it, we must place food system transformation at the heart of our discussions. The UAE’s COP28 Presidency believes strongly that there is no path to realizing the Paris Agreement goals without contending with food systems and climate change action.”
In her final event of the forum, Her Excellency built enthusiasm for COP28 - which is now just 81 days away. She said the UAE’s goal was for “COP28 to act as a global turning point for climate change by refocusing efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, ensure inclusive climate financing, and deliver adaptation and mitigation initiatives that will protect lives and livelihoods.”
Her Excellency pledged that the UAE would support Africa to access the climate finance it requires for adaptation measures. “At COP28, we will stand alongside African nations and advocate for greater climate finance to go towards food system transformation initiatives. Africa is responsible for just a small fraction of greenhouse gas emissions; it is only fitting that you receive all the support available to strengthen your food systems, which are so severely threatened by climate change.” She reminded those in attendance that in order to fix the world’s food systems, we must first fix Africa’s food systems.
Her Excellency also took part in a series of successful bilateral meetings during the forum. These included meetings with African ministers for Agriculture, Environment, Food Security and Water.