DUBAI: “The UAE is a leading partner in international efforts to ensure food security and eradicate hunger” – that was the message delivered by Her Excellency Mariam Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, during the opening of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)’s 46th session of the Committee on World Food Security, which is currently underway at the FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy.
“The UAE contributes greatly to the efforts of the United Nations, the World Food Programme, and the Committee on World Food Security, to end hunger in various regions of the world,” said H.E. Almheiri, who addressed delegates at the opening of the forum accompanied by H.E. Omar Obaid Mohammed Al Shamsi, UAE Ambassador to Italy; Fatima Obaid Al Kalbani, the UAE’s Permanent Representative at the FAO; Dr Abdul Wahab Zayed, Secretary-General of the Khalifa International Award for Date Palm and Agricultural Innovation, and Dr Tarifa Al Zaabi, Deputy Director General of FAO’s International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA).
The forum coincided with World Food Day, marked on October 16 every year to raise global awareness about food challenges and promote efforts to combat hunger wherever it is found. Running from October 14-18, the 46th session of the Committee on World Food Security has a packed programme of discussion panels and seminars, with sessions including: ‘Multistakeholder partnerships to finance and improve food security and nutrition in the framework of the 2030 Agenda;’ ‘Urbanisation, rural transformation and implications for food security and nutrition;’ and ‘Celebrating the international day of rural women.’
H.E. Almheiri showcased the UAE’s efforts to achieve the second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) which is Zero Hunger by 2030. “It is essential that we work together to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and end hunger across the world,” she said. “We must begin with the individual and raise awareness of the importance and value of food, and turn that into a culture that we can pass down from generation to generation.”
“This year’s World Food Day reaffirms that our future is the same and that our challenges are the same – we must find common solutions to these challenges that are increasingly a threat to the future of humanity,” added H.E. Almheiri.
Her Excellency continued by highlighting that the UAE is investing tremendous efforts in finding sustainable ways to produce and manage food throughout the value chain and enhancing the role of modern technologies in food and agricultural projects that are feasible under adverse conditions, such as water shortages and scarcity of arable land. H.E. asserted that the UAE is working to achieve the objectives of the National Food Security Strategy to promote sustainable food production, the rationalisation of food consumption and healthy nutrition for all members of the community.
Her Excellency also underlined the need to empower young people and women in various countries around the world, with these demographic segments playing an essential role in the development of the food ecosystem. We must all work together to provide healthy, nutritious, and abundant food for all members of society and to ensure a prosperous future for generations to come, she asserted.
H.E. Almheiri met with FAO’s recently elected Director General H.E. Qu Dongyu during the session, reaffirming the strong ties between the UAE and FAO and reiterating the UAE leadership’s commitment to supporting the international community’s efforts in the food security sector to ensure sufficient, healthy and safe food for regions of the world that are suffering from food shortages.
For his part, H.E. Qu Dongyu thanked the UAE Government for the continuous support it lends to FAO projects around the world, describing the UAE as a strategic partner in efforts to eradicate world hunger. H.E. applauded the Office of the UAE Minister of State for Food Security for the support it provides to FAO’s offices in the UAE, the region and the world.
Following the meeting, H.E. Almheiri joined H.E. Qu Dongyu in planting a Ghaf tree inside the FAO headquarters in a ceremony as a living testament of the strong ties between the UAE and the organisation as a symbolic celebration of the year of tolerance. The Ghaf tree is a symbol of the UAE, embodying the legacy of the country’s Founding Father the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who sought to plant hundreds of thousands of Ghaf trees around the country to help preserve the environment in the face of climate change. Sheikh Zayed had a particular affinity for Ghaf trees, planting nearly six million of them in Abu Dhabi and issuing legislation and regulations to protect them. These sturdy evergreen plants now represent 31% of forest trees in the emirate.
H.E. Almheiri stressed that the Ghaf tree will represent a permanent UAE presence in the FAO, serving as a symbol of long and fruitful cooperation between the country and the organisation. For his part, H.E. Qu Dongyu expressed his happiness to be planting the Ghaf tree in the FAO headquarters as a testimony to the UAE’s commitment to the global efforts to preserve the environment, improve agriculture and achieve food security for all.
Several senior FAO officials attended the session, where they explored ways to enhance cooperation in the upcoming period and address the various challenges in partnership with the UAE. In her interviews, H.E. Mariam Almheiri asserted that the UAE is committed to providing all necessary support to the organisation as part of its wider contributions to the UN, its efforts to achieve the SDGs, and it commitment to finding solutions to the issues that most affect people’s lives.