Gates Foundation Announces Partnership with UAE to Accelerate Action on Climate; Strengthen Food Systems Through Investment in Agricultural Innovation

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The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today joined the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to accelerate the development of innovations that will help smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia build resilience and adapt to climate change. Together, they made new commitments totalling US $200 million in response to immediate and long-term threats to food security and nutrition caused by climate change.

The announcement was delivered at the World Climate Action Summit by foundation Co-Chair Bill Gates, who was joined by H.E. Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri, minister of climate change and environment of the UAE. Gates also called on global leaders to elevate agriculture as a focus of global climate finance initiatives and support the global agriculture research network, CGIAR.

Sub-Saharan Africa, where more than 60% of the population depends on agriculture for food and income, accounts for only 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In recent years, a surge of extreme climate events, such as devastating droughts in East Africa and catastrophic flooding in West Africa, has contributed to reduced economic growth and increased income inequality with wealthy countries—primarily by eroding crop and livestock production. While numerous innovations exist to help smallholder farmers in the region, less than 2% of global climate finance is devoted to meeting their needs.  

“We need to make big bets on innovation to ensure smallholder farmers across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia have the tools they need to adapt their practices, feed their people, and build resilience in the face of climate change,” said Gates. “The needs of farmers are an integral part of the global climate agenda.”  

CGIAR, the world’s largest publicly funded agriculture research network, plays a critical role in supporting resilient, sustainable food production in a climate-stressed world. Earlier this week, it launched a three-year investment case to secure US $4 billion by 2027, helping CGIAR to reach 500 million farmers by 2030 with climate adaptation innovations, and to reduce emissions from the agriculture sector by 1 gigaton per year—the equivalent of eliminating emissions from more than 200 million cars.  

“We are ready to quickly scale up proven innovations that already are helping farmers in vulnerable regions like Africa and South Asia adapt to more challenging climate conditions,” said Professor Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, chair, CGIAR System Board. “That includes increasing access to improved varieties of naturally stress tolerant crops like cassava and millets, employing new tools and strategies farmers are using to support healthy ecosystems by reviving degraded lands, and providing long-range climate forecasts that help farmers anticipate and navigate weather extremes and shifting rainfall patterns.”

The foundation’s US $100 million investment announced today, which matches the UAE’s commitment of US $100 million, will support organizations, like the CGIAR, that are on the forefront of developing agricultural innovations. Additional foundation funding will support the work of AIM4Scale, a new climate adaptation initiative to be launched by the UAE. The foundation will also join partner countries, philanthropies, and financial institutions to help accelerate access to high-impact agricultural innovations for small-scale farmers in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia by reducing policy and funding-related barriers.

CGIAR a “best buy” in adaptation

For over 50 years, CGIAR’s work has helped save millions of lives and trillions of dollars globally. Its focus on smallholder farmers has delivered humanitarian benefits that rival the lifesaving power of vaccines. It consistently delivers high-impact innovations at a very low cost, with every dollar invested in its work returning US $10 in benefits for local farming communities. 

With the foundation’s commitment announced today, it has exceeded its current pledge to CGIAR of US $315 million and joins a growing global movement for action on climate adaptation. This includes new funding from donor countries to CGIAR totaling over US $800 million for the 2023-2024 funding cycle. 

The foundation’s support for agriculture adaptation at COP28 builds on previous commitments dating back to 2017 to help smallholder farmers cope with climate change. To learn more about the foundation’s work to create a pipeline of climate-smart agricultural solutions, new applications of digital technologies, low-emission approaches to small-scale livestock farming, and innovations that address the neglected needs of women farmers, please visit: https://www.gatesfoundation.org/ideas/climate-adaptation.

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