DUBAI, 10th May, 2018 (WAM) — The UAE is taking great strides to achieving sustainability across all sectors, most notably in agriculture and food, ensuring a better future for the coming generations, according to Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi.
Delivering a keynote speech as the chair of the UAE delegation to the 34th Session of the FAO Regional Conference for the Near East, NERC34, being held in Rome, Italy, from 7th to 11th May, the UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said, “Since it was established in 1971 by the founding father of the UAE, late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Man of the Environment, our nation has adopted approaches and policies that bolster agriculture and pursue the optimal use of available capabilities and continuous employment of modern technology to ultimately enhance the sector’s efficiency. Thanks to our prudent leadership today, the UAE is taking great strides to achieving sustainability across all sectors, most notably in agriculture and food, ensuring a better future for the coming generations.
“The concept of sustainable agriculture is deep-seated in the history of the Emirati people. Our ancestors used our scarce water resources wisely by developing innovative irrigation mechanisms at the time that reduced the consumption of water and ensured the sustainability of agriculture. Such mechanisms included a water-well management system called Tawi, as well as a traditional water irrigation system known as Fala,” he added.
Dr. Al Zeyoudi pointed out that the plans and strategies of the UAE revolve around diversifying economic development, most notably in food and agriculture. He further detailed that the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MoCCAE, has collaborated with the FAO to devise a national food diversification plan that ensures food sustainability in the UAE.
“The plan depends on two main factors. The first is increasing local production through leveraging latest technologies, rationing local consumption and refocusing on certain traditional crops, most prominently dates. The second factor involves diversifying imports from a geographically diverse set of countries to find alternatives that we can rely on in case of a crisis. This plan will also aim to diversify foreign investments to cope with the effects of climate change that are impacting several countries and regions across the world,” he added.
Dr. Al Zeyoudi indicated that the UAE Vision 2021 that aspires to achieve sustainability across all sectors focusses on innovation as a key element of success to achieving sustainability. The nation’s vision also mandates engaging the youth as key drivers of innovation, particularly in vibrant sectors such as agriculture.
He elaborated that towards this priority, several youth-centric initiatives have been launched in the UAE. Perhaps one of the most important of these is the Climate Innovations Exchange Forum, CLIX, organised by the MOCCAE earlier this year, which served as a marketplace that connected global-level entrepreneurs and investors to enable partnerships that enhance sustainable agriculture and the food industry.
“CLIX managed to attract investors who expressed their intent to invest over US$45 million to transform the displayed innovations into projects on the ground,” he said.
Dr. Al Zeyoudi announced a new collaboration between MoCCAE and the FAO, as they signed a letter of intent to develop research and management of fisheries. This synergy will include building an advanced research vessel to collect and measure data using better scientific mechanisms.
In conclusion, he proposed declaring 2020 as the International Year of Dates, given the crop’s special importance as a major commodity produced in the Arabian Gulf and the Middle East.