US aligns with Emirates to lead global push for agricultural innovation

This is a new initiative in the fight against climate change
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AP/EVAN VUCCI  -   Special Presidential Climate Envoy John Kerry speaks during a press conference at the White House, 22 April 2021, in Washington.

Two of the most important countries in their respective regions will join forces to lead the drive needed in the agricultural sector. The United States and the United Arab Emirates plan to share efforts to develop new projects that will increase productivity, but at the same time be a key factor in the fight against climate change. According to both sides, the increase in investment in this sector will be "dramatic". US Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said it is important to "improve our food systems to provide safe, nutritious, affordable and accessible food for all, while conserving natural resources and combating the climate crisis".

The UN Food Systems Summit is providing the stage for political leaders and scientists from around the world to work together on the issue of agriculture. The biggest challenge presented by this initiative is to achieve a major breakthrough in production without neglecting the climate challenge. Americans and Emiratis are leading a project called the Agriculture Climate Innovation Mission that aims to "dramatically increase public and private investment in climate-smart agriculture and food system innovation," Vilsack told the summit.

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Bandar Algaloud/Courtesy of the Saudi Royal Court via REUTERS - Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan

According to the World Bank, agriculture represents "an important part of the climate problem". Data provided by the WB indicates that agricultural activities account for between 19 and 29 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. To address this data, in addition to the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate, there is a project called AIM driven by the UK, Singapore, Australia and Brazil, among others, which "will serve as a unique platform for cooperation among many countries on these shared challenges", said US climate envoy John Kerry when the initiative was launched earlier this year.

The UAE and the US will work on the project at the UN Food Systems Summit in New York, held in conjunction with the General Assembly. They plan to officially launch it later this year at the event in Glasgow at the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). Kerry said their partnership with the UAE is largely due to the "ingenuity being applied to food and climate challenges" that the US envoy himself saw when he last visited the UAE.

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AP/SUSAN WALSH - President Joe Biden speaks about the situation in Afghanistan from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington.

Another reason for the emergence of this initiative, as well as others that are springing up around the world, is the seriousness of the situation the world is experiencing due to the climate crisis. According to the UN World Food Programme, food insecurity increased by 74% over the course of this year, with climate change and the pandemic of COVID-19 as the main causes. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the pandemic had plunged millions of people into extreme poverty and therefore famine was growing much faster and in many more countries.

Guterres believes that "we are waging a war against nature and reaping the bitter harvest of ruined crops, dwindling incomes and failing food systems". US President Joe Biden announced that his administration is committing $10 billion to combat the global fight against food insecurity. Of that sum, half will be injected within US borders, according to Samantha Power, administrator of the US Agency for International Development, who said that "the other half will be spent on fighting global food insecurity by helping small farmers and their families escape poverty".