Delivered by Her Excellency Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of State

Thank you, Secretary Blinken, for convening this important meeting today, and to our briefers for bringing their valuable perspectives to our discussion. We align ourselves with the statement made by Oman on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council.

More than 700 million people are going hungry around the world, while a third of the world’s population, almost 2.5 billion people, had restricted access to food last year.

As we have heard from our briefers, there is no single reason for global food insecurity. Though the reasons for it are complex, the human cost is plain to see.  

Forty-five million children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition.

Millions of people are driven to undertake dangerous irregular migration journeys.

There is increased sexual and gender-based violence.

We know that food insecurity contributes to conflict and instability, while the reverse is also true.

As intricately linked as they are, within the Council and globally, we cannot afford not to act.    

Today, there are three points I wish to make to this effect.

First, food insecurity is preventable.

Preventing food insecurity and famine is a political choice.

Bringing food insecurity to an end is a collective endeavor. No one should experience famine.

In conflict, international humanitarian law is clear: parties to armed conflict must take constant care to spare the objects necessary to produce food and drinking water and they must never target civilian objects. There is not only a moral, but a legal duty to uphold these norms and we call upon all parties to conflict to strictly adhere to their responsibilities.

It is also important that those in a position to support and facilitate lifesaving humanitarian efforts do so. For its part, the UAE has contributed more than 1.4 billion US dollars in assistance over the past five years to address food insecurity.

Conflicts, such as in Ukraine, can contribute to global food insecurity. Its knock-on effects in world markets mean that those living far beyond any battlefield often struggle to feed their families, especially in the Middle East and parts of Africa where countries rely heavily on grain imports.

In these instances, we must support national strategies and develop innovative approaches and partnerships that meet the scale of the challenge.

Second, ensuring global food security requires all hands on deck.

We must deepen international partnerships and make the most of multilateral fora at both the international and regional levels.

We saw the potential of multilateral efforts to reduce food insecurity through the establishment of the Black Sea Grain Initiative. The rise in wheat prices since the agreement came to an end – and let me reiterate that the UAE is deeply saddened by this development – is telling of the global importance of such an initiative.

A spirit of ambition and global collaboration is also needed to tackle a growing driver of food insecurity – climate change.

July was the hottest month on record. As such, we must see unity of purpose at the highest levels to reverse this disturbing trend by taking tangible measures to prevent the rise in temperatures above 1.5 degrees and ensuring climate adaptation and mitigation measures are firmly in place, particularly in fragile areas.

‘All hands on deck’ truly means all hands and all voices. Those disproportionately affected by food insecurity and climate change – in particular, women and youth – must be front and centre when designing responses. 

Recognising the disparity is not enough, we must encourage their full, equal, and meaningful participation.

Third, and finally, we need novel approaches to this challenge.

We commend the dedicated efforts of governments, international and regional organizations, private sector actors, and humanitarian groups and their significant achievements in this field.

Yet, food insecurity continues to rise.

If we limit ourselves to the same approaches, we will not turn this tide.

So, it’s time to expand our approaches.

Public-private partnerships are vital to tackling this huge challenge.

The UAE is actively engaged in public-private partnerships, such as the Mohammad Bin Rashid Global Initiatives’ annual one billion meals campaign.

And in 2021, the UAE and the United States launched the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate to catalyze innovation in climate-smart agriculture. It now works with over 50 government partners, the private sector, and civil society and has raised more than 13 billion dollars to accelerate transformational change.

Mr. President,

The world cannot maintain peace and security without one of the most basic needs for humanity.

The trend we are witnessing is a testament to the need to redouble our efforts.

It is my hope that we seize the opportunity of this meeting to take greater concerted action globally to overcome this challenge.

Thank you, Mr. President.