BAGHDAD, 9th February, 2022 (WAM) — Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, participated in the two-day Ministerial Session of the 36th Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) Regional Conference for the Near East (NERC-36).
It was hosted by Iraq under the theme “Recover and Restart: Innovations for Better, Greener and More Resilient Agrifood Systems to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”.
The conference brought together ministers of agriculture, partner organizations, sister agencies, and senior officials of FAO member countries to discuss regional challenges and priorities related to this topic in the Near East and North Africa region.
At the Food Security and Healthy Diets for All for Better Nutrition and a Better Life Roundtable, the Minister said, “Despite the global community’s drive to meet SDG 2 and ensure Zero Hunger by 2030, we cannot but feel we are not moving fast enough. Failing to supply sufficient, safe, healthy, and affordable food for all has put the world on a trajectory to both obesity and malnutrition.
“The urgent need to transform our current food systems to more sustainable ones can only be met through changing our approach to food production and consumption. We must invest in climate-smart agricultural methods, shift to green and circular economy, leverage innovation, and, of course, build partnerships to address common concerns, such as water scarcity.”
She added, “Policies are an effective tool for mainstreaming nutritious and healthy diets. Our National Food Security Strategy seeks to ensure all citizens and residents of the UAE have access to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food at affordable prices at all times. To meet this goal, we introduced the Nutritional Labelling Policy, which uses a traffic light system to provide consumers with comprehensive information that enables them to make healthy choices when shopping for food. We also adopted the National Nutrition Guidelines as a unified reference on food and nutrition education. When we combine the right policies with capacity building and raising awareness, we can reverse the trajectory we are currently on.”
Almheiri also joined a panel discussion on water, energy, and food in the context of the UN Climate Change Conferences COP27 and COP28 that will take place in Egypt and the UAE respectively. Other panelists included Qu Dongyu, Director-General of FAO, Youssef Nassef, Director of the Adaptation Division of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Jassim Abdul Aziz al-Falahi, Iraq’s Acting Minister of Environment, and Sherif Abdelrahim, Head of the Central Department of Climate Change at the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEEA).
Moderated by Abdulhakim Elwaer, Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for the Near East and North Africa at FAO, the side event explored regional challenges of the water, food, and energy nexus in the light of climate change.
Almheiri said, “The link between climate change and the agricultural sector is clear. Agriculture is one of the main contributors to climate change, while climate change is shaking up food and water security across the globe. Leveraging innovation in agriculture is an opportunity to address the climate crisis and the challenges facing the sector at the same time. Developing climate-smart agricultural solutions is a vital priority now as countries race to net zero in the next three decades. We need to transition to more sustainable food systems if we are to meet the objectives of the Paris Agreement and feed the growing population.”
She added, “We must keep the water-food-energy nexus at the centre of our COP conversations. We look forward to ramping up attention on building sustainable food and agricultural systems as a viable solution to climate change at COP27 this year, and later taking the lead on the topic as the host of COP28 in 2023.”