MoCCAE minister mariam at cop28 related event in dubai for food catering
Workshops were held with stakeholders to discuss the Sustainable Catering Strategy - a first for any COP Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The Minister of Climate Change and Environment and Food System Lead at COP28 UAE, has called on food and beverage (F&B) vendors to deliver ‘Climate Conscious Catering’ ahead of the climate conference next month.

Last week, Mariam Almheiri led a four-day workshop which was designed to motivate the adoption of climate conscious catering, and drive the success of its adoption by F&B vendors at COP28 taking place at Expo City Dubai and beyond.

Almheiri said: “Our vision for COP28 is that it will provide delegates with a 360-degree understanding of the climate challenges the world faces. We know that our food systems are intrinsically linked to the fate of our natural world, and so we have made the progressive decision to ensure that we explore how the catering provided across the event can be responsible and climate conscious, helping to echo the emphasis we have placed on the Emirates Declaration.”

She continued: “The approach, which is a ‘COP first’ centres around the Sustainable Catering Strategy developed for COP28 and is intended to demonstrate the benefits and lasting legacy.”

Sustainable Catering Strategy

The Sustainable Catering Strategy is intended to showcase the potential to deliver sustainable food and beverages at scale. The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and COP28 are looking for F&B partners who share this vision. The strategy, which has not been implemented at a COP before, has a commitment to deliver a two-thirds plant-based menu, limit the carbon and water intensity of food served, and ensure a focus on nutrition, portion sizes, affordability and minimising waste.

“Our resolve to reimagine the catering provided to COP delegates reflects the sustainability approach we follow in all sectors, especially in food systems. We want to demonstrate the UAEs commitment to the COP process in every way we can,” the minister said.

“The programme will require significant engagement and buy-in from the caterers at the event, but I’m confident the will is there. The food will need to be enjoyable to eat, and we will work hard to ensure the concept is communicated in an informative and engaging way to attendees, because those two components are vital for bring about behaviour change.”

To support the delivery and legacy of this initiative, the four-day workshop featured high-profile local and global chefs from the Chefs’ Manifesto network, in a two-day session at the International Centre for Culinary Arts (ICCA), with two clear objectives. Firstly, to build momentum for the sustainable catering offering through developing dishes and training materials to support the implementation of the strategy at the event. And secondly, at the SEE Institute, to bring together partner organisations like SDG2 Advocacy Hub, Ne’ma, ICBA, etc, with leading chefs from the Chefs’ Manifesto community and beyond.

The workshop featured talks and panel discussions from local food producers, scientists, nutritionists, sustainability experts and the COP28 team, intended to demonstrate ways that sustainable food can be delivered a large-scale event such as a COP, while being nutritious, tasty, affordable and climate friendly.