Delivered by Ambassador and Permanent Representative Lana Nusseibeh
I would like to thank the United States and Secretary Blinken for convening us today. As a humanitarian donor, a Security Council member, the COP28 president, and a country that imports 90% of its food, food security is a top priority for us. We are deeply concerned by the escalating levels of hunger and food insecurity across the world and how they impact the most vulnerable. As we have seen in the UN Global Report on Food Crises, even before recent price shocks, the world hit record highs of food insecurity in 2021: About one eighth of the global population goes to sleep hungry, and, unfortunately, this number is on the rise.
The UAE is committed to working closely with partners to address this global challenge. Last year, we were proud to launch the Agricultural Innovation Mission for Climate with the United States and other countries. We also worked hand-in-hand with the World Food Programme to execute the ‘1 Billion Meals’ program, the region’s largest food distribution drive, during Ramadan. On the multilateral stage, the UAE is part of the food security core group that will be introducing a GA resolution on the State of Global Food Insecurity next week. The resolution, under the custodianship of Lebanon, expresses our collective, decisive call to put global food security front and center of our work here. It has one key objective: to galvanize efforts around global food insecurity and its impact on the lives and livelihoods of people around the world.
We also welcome the commitment for the IFIs [International Financial Instruments] to increase social protection support, and we join this group in underscoring the importance to ensuring safe and unhindered humanitarian access in relieving food insecurity.
As these initiatives advance, the UAE believes that there is still a need for even greater global coordination. We want to seize the opportunity we have here today to focus efforts on the systemic changes necessary to sustainably address the global food crisis driven by conflict, climate, the pandemic, and trade and logistical barriers.
I would like to highlight two areas for action:
First, we would like to see a new, meaningful package of food and water investment for fragile countries. This should be a central discussion within UN agencies, the G7, and the G20, as well as the UNFCCC COPs (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). In the same way that multi-billion-dollar packages are being put together to help developing countries transition away from coal, we need to get serious about support at scale for countries that face instability because of land degradation and the lack of food and water. Drought-resistant crops and better irrigation technology are just two components that could affect dramatic change if their use could be identified and financed through country platforms. This is not just an investment in local supply, but in preventing food insecurity from sparking and accelerating conflict and displacement. David Beasely spoke convincingly about his approach in his earlier remarks of early investment in resilience. Giving us far higher peace dividends than delayed action – I think we can all subscribe to that.
Second, we see great promise in anticipatory action and believe it can be scaled up significantly in the next two years across international financial institutions and funds. Many organizations are now able to more reliably predict droughts, game out supply chain disruptions, and track competition over resources. These data points should be prompts for the release of international resources and for policy shifts before an actual food crisis hits. Given what we know about food-related instability, it would be timely to assess what support and tools can be offered now. Helping those at risk is not only a moral imperative, but also cheaper and more effective than trying to recover post-crisis. We support the United States call to action to accelerate our global efforts.
The UAE believes that the best way to manage conflict is to prevent it from happening in the first place, and these actions outline an agenda of prevention and mitigation that should be front and center to address food insecurity. We look forward to working with all partners to advance this prevention agenda, as we simultaneously address the near-term fallout of the food crisis.