Press Release: COP28: African and Middle East Leaders Welcome $10 Billion SAFE Initiative to Tackle Food Security amid Climate Crisis
Leaders from Africa and the Middle East launched a $10 billion public-private-partnership initiative during COP28 to transform food systems for millions of people facing climate-induced food insecurity.
The climate crisis is already having real impacts on communities in Africa and the Middle East, with impacts including severe weather events, droughts and floods, air pollution, and agricultural disruptions.
The SAFE Initiative of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) will mobilise at least $10 billion to implement proven climate-smart agricultural practices such as regenerative agriculture, integrated soil fertility management, and solar-powered irrigation. SAFE aims to mobilise strategic investments from public and private investors to address food security issues, improve livelihoods, and create green jobs.
Ahead of the launch, Ban Ki-moon, president of the GGGI and former UN Secretary-General said: “By placing food security at the heart of COP28 discussions, we can foster sustainable development and resilience in Africa. This requires collaboration on among nations, organisations, and stakeholders to enact comprehensive strategies that tackle these intertwined issues holistically. The Africa and Middle East SAFE Initiative between Africa and the Middle East is an example of collaboration to address the challenges of food security, climate change, and rural livelihood vulnerability.”
At the launch event on the fourth day of the COP28 United Nations’ climate change conference in Dubai, government and institutional representatives expressed strong support for the initiative.
“There is an urgent need to ease access for developing countries to climate finance and technology, and in particular taking into account the current levels of internal and external debt of the African countries. It is therefore important that we offer these countries investment opportunities. We capitalise on the Africa SAFE initiative as an approach to improve the lives of people in Africa in a sustainable and climate-resilient manner,” said Hala Helmy el-Said, Egypt’s Minister of Planning and Economic Development.
Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and Food Production, Mr Kobenan Kouassi Adjoumani, said: “With food security and agriculture production at the heart of the economic sector of Côte d’Ivoire, this initiative will support particularly youth and women. On behalf of H.E. Alassane Ouattara, the country is happy to provide support to the SAFE initiative.”
Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, also welcomed the initiative.
“Africa, which holds 65% of the uncultivated arable land left in the world, holds the key for the future of food in the world. That is why all efforts must be made to support the continent to fully unlock the potential of its agriculture sector,” Dr Adesina said.
Dr Adesina said Africa’s abundant land and natural resources means it has the potential to become a breadbasket to feed the Middle East.
“Africa can be a food solutions provider for the Middle East, where water stress poses immense challenges for food production, and where the cost of water desalinisation is prohibitive for competitive food production to assure food security,” he said.
The African Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development are co-investing $1.6 billion for the development of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones (SAPZs) in Africa. Dr Adesina invited investment by Middle Eastern countries in the development of SAPZs in Africa to support the success of the SAFE initiative.
“I would like to ask that the Middle Eastern countries work closely with the African Development Bank and its partners to co-invest in development of these SAPZs. They are the platforms that will support the success of the Africa and Middle East SAFE initiative,” he said.
President Adesina’s engagement with the SAFE initiative follows on from a strategic outreach last June that included the Arab Coordination Group, comprising 10 regional organizations. Among them are the Islamic Development Bank, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, and the OPEC Fund for International Development.
The COP is the single largest global platform for nations to negotiate an agreed way forward to tackle climate change. The gathering also brings together major stakeholders engaged in climate change: governments, the private sector, youth and civil society. The theme of this year’s conference is Unite, Act, Deliver.
Photo courtesy of Neil Palmer.