Vilsack expects agriculture to play a big role at next year’s COP28

After this year’s all-day international climate conference put agriculture in the spotlight, Agriculture Minister Tom Vilsack says next year’s host country partnership should enable the agricultural sector to play an even bigger role.

The United Arab Emirates plans to host COP28 next year in Dubai; this year’s event concluded on Sunday in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. The UAE’s role as host invites the country to shape the agenda to allow additional time for AIM for Climate Efforts was jointly announced by the UAE and the United States at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland in 2021.

This year’s The COP27 conference in Egypt included a daytime focus on agricultural issues as part of its agenda. Speaking to the National Agricultural Broadcasting Association on Friday, Vilsack said Maryam Bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri, the UAE’s Minister of Climate Change and Environment, would ensure longer discussions on agriculture at COP28.

“I expect and expect that in addition to the day, if you will, that we spent in Egypt, we will see a significant focus on how the UAE represents itself and represents COP28 with a focus on agriculture,” Vilsack said. “I think , you’ll see it rise even more, and it should.”

Vilsack said the US and the UAE make for a good — if unlikely — partnership of one country importing 80% of its food and the other being a global agricultural powerhouse. He said leaders there are “very interested in places like the United States continuing to be productive, but they’d also like to be able to do a little bit more on their own” through innovations in indoor farming and controlled farming systems.

The partnership aims to increase private sector investment and global government support for agricultural innovation over a five-year period that began last year. The USDA recently said the program’s one year of existence has resulted in $8 billion in investments, 30 “innovation sprints” and more than 275 global partners.

The USDA will also host an upcoming meeting in May 2023 in conjunction with the Food and Agriculture Fund, focusing on AIM for Climate.

Vilsack told NAFB that he expects additional private sector investment to be announced at the May meeting and over the next year in the run-up to COP28.

“People are now recognizing that food and agriculture is a critical component of our response to climate change … and it’s part of the solution, not necessarily part of the problem, part of the solution,” he said. “Farmers are ready, they’re worried, they just need information.”

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