February 28, 2024

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Secretary Antony J. Blinken At the UN Climate Conference, COP 28, Leaders Event: Transforming Food Systems in the Face of Climate Change

Dubai, United Arab Emirates – In a landmark commitment to address the intersection of climate change and food systems, over 130 countries, including the United States, have signed the Emirates Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture, Resilient Food Systems, and Climate Action.

The Emirates Declaration aims to align efforts on agriculture and food systems with climate action. It recognizes the urgent need to address global food insecurity, which currently affects around 700 million people, with half of them facing acute food insecurity. Secretary Blinken highlighted the devastating impact of the warming climate and extreme weather events on food security, citing heatwaves, wildfires, and floods experienced worldwide.

To combat this crisis, Secretary Blinken announced that the United States would join the Declaration and become a founding member of the Technical Cooperation Collaborative. This collaborative initiative will work towards implementing the vision outlined in the Declaration. The United States will contribute its expertise and resources to support sustainable agriculture and resilient food systems.

Secretary Blinken emphasized that the global demand for food is expected to increase by 50 percent by 2050 due to population growth. However, the escalating climate crisis could result in a drop of up to 30 percent in crop yields over the same period. These challenges necessitate innovative solutions that prioritize sustainable practices while increasing food production.

Since January 2021, the United States has allocated $17.5 billion to address global hunger. The country provides over 50 percent of the World Food Program’s budget and invests a billion dollars annually through Feed the Future, a global food security initiative. These efforts aim to strengthen food systems, social safety nets, and nutrition in more than 40 countries.

Furthermore, the United States is partnering with organizations and countries to reimagine food production in the face of climate change. The Vision for Adapted Crops and Soils (VACS) initiative, launched in collaboration with the African Union and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, focuses on enhancing soil health and developing climate-resilient crops.

VACS invests in mapping, conserving, and building healthy soils while also identifying nutrient-rich and climate-resilient crops. The initiative aims to breed better crop varieties and ensure their widespread availability. The Netherlands, Japan, the United Kingdom, Norway, and leading corporations such as Cargill and ADM have already joined the coalition.

During his speech, Secretary Blinken recognized the inaugural VACS Champions, including Bayer, Catholic Relief Services, ADM, Concern Worldwide, and the One Acre Fund. He also announced an additional $50 million pledge from the United States towards the initiative.

In addition to VACS, the United States is scaling climate-smart agriculture through the President’s Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment. Initiatives like the Agriculture Innovation Missions for Climate with the UAE are also expanding to attract private and public investments in food systems innovation.

Secretary Blinken emphasized that while the global community faces various challenges, ending climate-driven hunger must remain a top priority. The COP 28 conference provides an opportunity for nations to raise their ambitions and work together to address this pressing issue.

The United States looks forward to collaborating with other countries and stakeholders to transform food systems and tackle climate change-induced hunger. Secretary Blinken’s announcement underscores the commitment of the United States towards building a sustainable and resilient future for all.

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