UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment Highlights Country’s Approach to Enhancing Agricultural Resilience to Climate Change at Bloomberg Global Business Forum 2019

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On the sidelines of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 74) in New York, His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, participated in a breakout session on agriculture and land use, climate change, and sustainable solutions.

The panel discussion was part of the Bloomberg Global Business Forum 2019 that convened leaders from the public and private sectors worldwide to explore the threats to economic prosperity posed by climate change and identify viable solutions.

In his role as a panelist, His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi emphasized that the globalized nature of the food supply chain means no country, region, or continent can afford to ignore food insecurity. He explained that this challenge transcends national borders and is felt acutely in the Middle East, where growing populations in arid regions are placing pressure on the capacity of nations to feed their citizens.

The Minister said: “The UAE follows a systematic approach to ensuring the climate resilience of its agricultural sector. We rely heavily on innovation and state-of-the-art agricultural technologies to enhance food diversity and security in the face of environmental challenges, such as scarce freshwater resources and arable land, that are amplified by climate change. Modern farming solutions such as optimized greenhouse design, hydroponics, vertical agriculture, netting systems, and closed-system greenhouses significantly improve crop productivity and quality while reducing the environmental footprint.”

He added: “Diversification is the key to food security, therefore we have developed a food diversification strategy with technical support from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) that focuses on the sustainable use of our precious natural resources, such as groundwater.”

Speaking on the country’s drive to boost local agricultural production through supporting farmers, he said: “We are implementing programs to encourage subsistence-level farmers to adopt commercial agriculture and embrace modern cultivation practices in order to increase their contributions to the local food supply. This is crucial to ensuring the long-term food security of the UAE.

“We offer farmers highly subsidized agricultural inputs at half the market price. These include high-quality crop seeds that are specially adapted to tolerate heat and consume less water while providing high yields. We also promote the sales of locally produced food commodities in both the domestic and international markets.”

Noting the vital role of R&D in ensuring food sustainability for any country, His Excellency Dr Al Zeyoudi said: “The UAE aims to make agriculture and food a priority for academic and research programs, and channel available funds into food-relevant R&D to develop solutions that are applicable to the local environment and conditions.”

Furthermore, he reiterated the UAE’s commitment to strengthening international cooperation to fuel concerted action on environmental issues. He cited the agreements signed between the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine as prime examples of synergies that facilitate the sharing of best practices in climate-smart agriculture.

The Minister visited the head office of New York University that has a satellite campus in Abu Dhabi, and Stevens Institute of Technology, a private research university with a mission ​to inspire, nurture and educate leaders in tomorrow’s technology-centric world.

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