Mariam Bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, at COP28 in Dubai on Sunday
Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, at COP28 in Dubai on Sunday Image Credit: X/COP28_UAE

Dubai: COP28 has so far mobilised $3.1b for the food and agriculture sector and the number of countries that signed the UAE Declaration on Agriculture, Food Systems and Climate Action has risen to 152, Mariam Bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, has revealed.

She was speaking on Sunday, which was observed as ‘Food, Agriculture and Water Day’ at the UN Climate Conference at Expo City Dubai.

The day also witnessed the launch of a three-year global package to support farmers and food producers and more financial pledges to aid the food and agri sector that faces heightened vulnerability to climate change.

On December 1, the COP28 Presidency announced that 134 world leaders had signed up to its landmark agriculture, food and climate action declaration. Also announced was the mobilisation of more than $2.5 billion in funding to support food security while combating climate change and a $200 million partnership between the UAE and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for food systems innovation in the face of climate change.

On Sunday, Almheiri announced that the signatories to the UAE Declaration have increased from 134 to 152.

This growth is a testament to the commitment and engagement of stakeholders involved in addressing the complex challenges in the food and agriculture sector, she pointed out.

Fund for food sector

Of the $83.7b mobilised at COP28 so far, $3.1b has been for the food sector, she said.

Pointing out the emphasis on sustainability at the UN Climate Conference venue itself, she said climate-conscious food has been served at COP28 after workshops were held to train chefs, catering companies, and suppliers on ingredient choices and sourcing on food systems.

“So that’s been a real driver. And from what you’ve seen here…we still have delicious, nutritious food, but this time there is the sustainability aspect of it looking at the carbon footprint,” she added.

The Minister also highlighted initiatives within the UAE, particularly in closed system agriculture (CEA), which enables year-round food production in the challenging desert environment. Additionally, the ‘Ne’ma Food Loss and Waste Reduction Roadmap,’ has a strong action plan to reduce food loss and waste in the country by 50 per cent by 2030.

Package for farmers

Meanwhile, the COP28 Presidency, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Bank, The Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centres (CGIAR) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development have together announced the joint Sharm-El Sheikh Support Programme, a three-year support package to help countries unlock finance and support farmers, food producers, small agribusinesses, and local communities.

“We stand ready to join hands with partners to support countries to accelerate action,” said Máximo Torero, FAO Chief Economist, speaking on the COP28 UAE Declaration on Agriculture, Food Systems and Climate Action.

ACF coalition

In a high-level session on Sunday, dignitaries and ministers discussed the paths, modalities, and opportunities involved in implementing the UAE Declaration. The session saw the announcement of the Alliance of Champions for Food Systems Transformation (ACF), a coalition formed by Brazil, Cambodia, Rwanda, Norway and Sierra Leone aimed at helping reorient policies, practices and investment priorities to deliver better food systems outcomes for people, nature and climate.

Meanwhile, Italian environment minister, Gilberto Pichetto Fratin, announced a €10 million in support of the UAE Declaration.

“Italy is also one of the founding members of the collaboration for technical cooperation in support of the implementation of the UAE Declaration of COP28 and today, I am pleased to announce that Italy will contribute with €10 million to catalyse wider investments on integrated food and climate plans,” he said.