Advancing Climate-Resilient Agri-Food Systems at COP28

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The UNFCCC 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) is scheduled to take place in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from November 30 to December 12, 2023. With a primary focus on transforming agri-food systems for climate resilience and global food security and located in the heart of the CWANA and the Middle East drylands, COP28 holds immense significance for ICARDA, CGIAR’s drylands agricultural Research Center.

Dryland farming is critical in nourishing millions of people residing in arid regions such as Central and West Asia, North Africa (CWANA), and the Middle East. However, as the climate crisis intensifies, unsustainable water management and land-use practices persist, posing severe food and nutritional security threats. Consequently, the development of resilient and sustainable agri-food systems has emerged as a crucial research area in the CWANA region and globally. Given these circumstances, Dubai serves as an ideal host country for COP28.

To make progress on adaptation, defining success involves addressing biodiversity loss, agricultural land restoration, forest preservation, coastline protection, hunger eradication, and safeguarding lives and livelihoods globally. G20 nations should prioritize the transformation of food systems. National adaptation plans and strategies should focus on sustainable land use, leveraging technologies for crop resilience, improving nutrition, and reducing the climate impacts of farming.Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, President-Designate for COP28, UAE

ICARDA’s COP28 delegation, led by Aly Abousabaa, CGIAR’s Regional Director for CWANA and Director General of ICARDA, will actively lead or participate in more than 20 events throughout the conference.

ICARDA, alongside its sister CGIAR centers, will join forces as a consolidated delegation within the UNFCCC COP process, in addition to hosting official side events. As well as this, the COP28 Food Pavilion, co-convened by CGIAR, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Rockefeller Foundation, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will host a series of events throughout the conference.

Throughout COP28, ICARDA will highlight the importance of international collaboration in tackling climate-smart transformation in food, land, and water systems for future global food security. Urgent global action is needed to revolutionize conventional agri-food systems that are no longer fit-for-purpose, particularly in dry regions, and ICARDA will showcase how CGIAR’s global agri-research expertise can be leveraged for global adaptation and mitigation in agri-challenges stemming from intensifying climate change. ICARDA will argue the case for increased global funding in agri-research by showcasing pioneering initiatives like the ICARDA-led Integrated Desert Farming Innovation Program that, given the right investment, can turn barren deserts into food production powerhouses.

ICARDA’s delegation will also showcase CGIAR’s new global portfolio of agricultural initiatives, emphasizing the immense research potential offered by the CWANA region, which stems from its rich biodiversity of unique plant and livestock species that have already adapted to harsh conditions, existing renewable energy projects, and well-established national climate-smart agriculture programs.

ICARDA’s Official UNFCCC Side Events
  • Transforming Drylands: Integrating Farming Innovations towards achieving WEF Nexus for Climate Resilience in the MENA region | 3 December -15:30 – 16:30 | ICARDA and IWMI
  • Cultivating Resilience: Communities, Fish and Drylands | 6 December – 16:45 – 18:30 | ICARDA and WOTR

The ICARDA delegation at COP28
  • Aly Abousabaa, ICARDA Director General and CGIAR CWANA Regional Director
  • Neal Gutterson, Board Chair
  • Roula Majdalani, Senior Climate Change Advisor
  • Michael Baum, Deputy Director General and Research Team Leader
  • Garrick Long, Special Advisor to the Director General
  • Vinay Nangia, Soils, Water, and Agronomy Research Team Leader
  • Ajit Govind, Senior Climate Scientist and Systems Modeler
  • James Pursey, Senior Communications Manager
  • Mahmoud Khedr, Partnerships and Engagement Officer

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