Everyone on the planet needs access to safe, adequate, and affordable food, and that means there is an “urgent” need to transform current systems toward a sustainable future, according to Mariam Al Mheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment.
She made the comments in her opening address to the Gulfood Inspire Summit, held on the first day of Gulfood 2022 at Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). Almost 811 million people are facing hunger, said the minister, with one in three people on earth denied access to adequate food due to conflict, climate change and the impact of the global pandemic.
The minister issued a rallying call for everyone at Gulfood 2022 and beyond to start thinking carefully about what they eat, how they prepare their food, and what they are wasting.
The world needs inclusive, innovative, and data-driven policies to boost food supply and address food insecurity, said Al Mheiri.
She described how the UAE was leading the way by investing heavily in agtech. That includes Food Tech Valley, a groundbreaking project she described as a ‘playground’ for pioneering solutions, specifically for arid climates such as the UAE.
Earlier in the week at a meeting of the Supreme Committee for the Exploitation, Protection, and Development of Living Aquatic Resources, Al Mheiri said the government was also working to protect biodiversity and marine life, and invest in aquaculture.
“We rely heavily on seafood in our diet as a sustainable and healthy source of protein,” she said, according to WAM, the state news agency. “We are committed to protecting our marine wealth and scaling up research and development in this area to increase the contribution of seafood products to our food security.”
Back at Gulfood, director of SDG2 Advocacy Hub Paul Newnham told the summit the world needs to start thinking more holistically about food, which “can be a driver of change”, he said. SDG2 Advocacy Hub brings together stakeholders to meet the second United Nations Sustainable Development Goal, to ensure sustainable access to nutritious food by ending hunger and malnutrition and doubling food production.
Gulfood Inspire continues on Monday 14 February with key sessions including the rising role of cloud kitchens, how to start a food business in emerging markets, balancing profitability with sustainability, and more.
The 27th Gulfood 2022, an exhibition that brings together more than 4,000 suppliers from 185 countries, runs until February 17.