US and UAE seek additional $4 billion for joint agriculture initiative

WASHINGTON D.C.: An American official reports that the U.S. and the UAE are seeking an additional $4 billion in global investments as part of an initiative launched last year aimed at ensuring that agriculture is protected from climate change.

During the COP26 climate talks held in November 2021, the UAE and U.S. launched the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate, to encourage investments of $4 billion from governments and non-government innovation partners.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack told Reuters, ahead of the Agriculture Innovation Mission’s first ministerial meeting in Dubai, that the Mission now aims to generate $8 billion in climate-smart investment commitments by the next COP27 climate talks in Egypt.

"We believe we actually need to set a higher goal. President Biden believes we should get $8 billion by COP27," Vilsack said.

The initiative is supported by 140 partners, and the initial $4 billion target comprised $1 billion each from the governments of the U.S. and the UAE, while $1.8 billion came from other governments and $200 million from non-government partners.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently said it would invest $1 billion in pilot projects for climate-smart commodities, which will promote farming, ranching and forestry practices that reduce emissions.

The U.S. farming industry is already battling the effects of climate change, such as higher incidences of drought and flooding.

A Gulf oil producer that imports most of its food and desalinates seawater for potable water, the UAE is investing heavily in agricultural, water technologies and clean energy, and will host COP28 climate talks in 2023.

In a statement, UAE Climate Change Minister Mariam al-Mheiri said, "Agriculture and food systems offer immense opportunities for global climate action."