At the launch of the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) during COP26, an investment announcement to accelerate innovation for climate-smart agriculture and food systems was described as an “early harvest.” It is an apt description.
While focus on the opportunities for global climate action in sectors such as energy and infrastructure has been vast, the investment and interest in agriculture has, in contrast, been previously overlooked — surprisingly so when such a huge part of the climate challenge revolves around food and agriculture.
According to the International Panel of Climate Change, agriculture, forestry and the change of land-use accounts for around 25% of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. And that’s a statistic which means lessening the impact of agriculture on climate should be a major focus of all nations, investors and innovators. Significantly more rapid and transformative action can be achieved by agriculture in being part of the solution in addressing the climate crisis. Doing so can not only lessen emissions and help feed a growing global population — one that has become increasingly dependent on climate-vulnerable food production — but assist those in the agricultural sector to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
The creation of AIM for Climate — a joint initiative by the United Arab Emirates and USA with the support of over 30 governments — mobilized $4 billion of increased investment to enhance resilience to climate change. This included a $1 billion contribution from the UAE. The UAE-US initiative is the first global agriculture and climate change coalition of its kind, uniting participants to greatly increase and accelerate investment in — and/or other support for — climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation between now and 2025. This is crucial.
The climate crisis has placed immense pressure on the agricultural sector, fostering uncertainty in seasons and weather patterns for farmers and, in turn, disturbing food systems in countries across the world, which heightens food insecurity. But in a sector employing more than two billion people and responsible for ensuring the food requirements of the world’s future generations, there is not just ample scope for job creation but also for high-potential returns. And this makes driving investments in agricultural innovation and R&D not just important but imperative. Investments in innovative, science-based solutions will help build significant resilience to the impacts of climate change.
With this in mind, the UAE, the host of COP28, already has a range of agricultural initiatives in place.
These include the National Strategy for Sustainable Agriculture, which aims to escalate the efficiency levels of farms, increase self-sufficiency when it comes to certain agricultural crops and reduce water usage for irrigation.
Masdar, the global developer of clean energy and sustainability projects headquartered in Abu Dhabi, has recently launched “Innovate,” to identify and nurture the next generation of sustainable technologies. The global initiative will focus on the areas including urban mobility, clean energy, agritech and food security, water, energy storage, and artificial intelligence. The technologies are being showcased at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.
Innovative technologies and solutions — such as hydroponics, aquaponics and organic agriculture
strengthening agricultural pest control programs, reducing loss and waste throughout the food chain and expanding interest in scientific research in the agricultural field — are already in place. However, more are needed and more needs to be done not just in the UAE but across the world to lessen the impact of agriculture on the climate.
Now is the time to reap the rewards of an early harvest.
Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week took place in-person and online between Jan. 15-19, 2022. To learn more about the week, visit www.adsw.ae.