Mariam Bint Mohammed Almheiri, the UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment and COP28 Food Systems Lead, said the “UAE will stand shoulder to shoulder with Africa to ensure that countries across the continent can secure the investment needed to build sustainable food systems and combat climate change.”
Almheiri was addressing Africa Climate Summit 2023 (ACS23), hosted by President William Ruto in Nairobi, Kenya. The event focuses on delivering climate-positive growth and finance solutions for Africa.
The minister also met Rigathi Gachagua, Deputy President of Kenya to discuss how the country’s school meals programme can be strengthened through the integration of Climate Friendly Actions. The two leaders discussed how the countries can partner to bolster the school meals programme and build momentum for securing sustainable food systems of the future.
One of four Regional Climate Weeks held this year, ACS23 builds momentum ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai and the conclusion of the first Global Stocktake, designed to chart the way for fulfilling the Paris Agreement's goals and provide region-focused contributions to inform the Global Stocktake.
In her address, Almheiri called upon African governments to demonstrate leadership by signing the first-ever Leaders Declaration on Food Systems, Agriculture and Climate Action, which she launched in July at the 2023 UN Food Systems Stocktaking Moment in Rome.
She said one of the UAE’s aims at the Africa Climate Summit and at COP28 later this year is to “bring the topic of inclusive climate finance to the heart of our discussions. We believe that by reorganising and increasing climate finance, we can support Africa as it transitions towards the food systems of the future.”
The minister said the UAE would act as a “global convenor” at COP28 and emphasized the success of the multi-lateral programmes the UAE is driving forward with its global partners including the Mangrove Alliance for Climate (MAC) and AIM for Climate and urged African nations and food system stakeholders to partner in these transformational initiatives.
The UAE launched AIM for Climate with the United States with the aim of increasing investment and support for climate-smart agriculture and food system innovations. Since its inception, AIM for Climate has encouraged countries and various partners to invest more than $13 billion in innovative agricultural systems and projects. The initiative now boasts 500 partners, which include governments and non-governmental organisations from around the world.
The Mangrove Alliance for Climate was launched by the UAE with Indonesia. The initiative seeks to scale up and accelerate the conservation and restoration of mangrove ecosystems for the benefit of communities worldwide.
“We are proud of the results achieved by AIM for Climate and the Mangrove Alliance for Climate,” said Almheiri. “But we still have a way to go, and we believe that Africa plays a central role in shaping the future of food in the world. I urge all nations and food system stakeholders here to become part of these ambitious global initiatives.”
On day one of ACS23, Her Excellency took part in several plenaries and events with other climate and environment ministers and a wide range of stakeholders including CEOs and high-level investors. This included a Ministerial Working Lunch, in which she outlined the UAE’s priorities for COP28, a ministerial dinner, and an event which explored investment opportunities for food sovereignty in Africa.
Another key event was a tour by Almheiri of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the world’s largest institution of its kind, and a part of Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), global research partnership for a food-secure future dedicated to transforming food, land, and water systems in a climate crisis.
She discussed with the researchers and scientists about agricultural innovation, including the introduction of drought-resistant crops. Addressing them, she congratulated Kenya on the hosting of the Africa Climate Week and reiterated the UAE’s support to Africa. She said this is underpinned by the country’s commitment of US$4.5 billion to unlock the continent’s clean energy potential.
Almheiri added that the speech by Kenyan President William Ruto at the Africa Climate Week was inspiring, especially on the need to drive youth empowerment, unlock climate finance, and leveraging the rich opportunities Africa offers.
On the second day of the summit, Almheiri spoke at a panel event themed “Empowering Africa’s Drought Resilience”.
Africa Climate Week brings together leaders from governments, businesses, international organizations, and civil society to explore ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while adapting to the mounting fallout from the climate crisis.
The UAE has identified four key priorities which must be focused on at COP28 to ensure a better future for humanity. They include the delivery of a just, orderly, and equitable energy transition; accelerating international climate finance and ensuring that it is affordable, available, and accessible to developing countries; making lives and livelihoods central to climate action, by focusing on adaptation and loss and damage; and the organisation of the most inclusive Conference possible.
With less than 100 days until COP28, she said that “climate change is a threat that doesn’t recognise borders” and pledged to “work to mobilize solutions for vulnerable countries, operationalize loss and damage, and deliver the most inclusive Conference possible, when nations meet in the UAE for COP28 later this year.”