Upcoming Global Trends and the UAE’s Global Food Security Index improvements discussed with the food policy benchmarking tool’s architects

Her Excellency Mariam Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, meets with representatives of The Economist Intelligence Unit via webinar session

Upcoming Global Trends and the UAE’s Global Food Security Index improvements discussed with the food policy benchmarking tool’s architects

UAE – The UAE’s progressive climb up the Global Food Security Index to become one of the world’s most food secure nations and the developing trends pertaining to global food security formed the focus of a webinar session, with Her Excellency Mariam Almheiri, Minister of State for Food Security on Wednesday (17 June 2020) and representatives from the Economist Intelligence Unit (The EIU) - the architects of the index.

The virtual meeting commenced with Her Excellency Almheiri discussing the integral role that the Global Food Security Index plays as the benchmark for the Food Security Office’s initiatives and in helping the office meet its mandate of ensuring that everyone in the UAE has access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food for an active and healthy life at affordable prices at all times, including emergencies and crises.

“The Food Security Office considers the Global Food Security Index to be the most accurate barometer of our success in enhancing the UAE’s food security status. The index’s 34 unique indicators make for a complex set of matrices that we rely on to gauge the impact of our initiatives. In fact, such is the store that we place in the accuracy and influence of the index that increasing our position on it each year is one of our substantive targets at the Food Security Office,” said Her Excellency.

“The 2017 Global Food Security Index, issued in December two months after the office was established, placed the UAE at 33rd place out of 113 countries. In December 2019, the most recent Global Food Security Index revealed that the UAE had jumped from 31st position in 2018 to 21st position in 2019 – an impressive 10-place leap. We continue to strive to be number one by 2051,” added Her Excellency.

Discussing the role of The Economist Intelligence Unit, Jonathan Birdwell, The EIU’s Regional Director of Public Policy commented: "The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is faced with a number of pressing challenges, ranging from an increased demand for food, to extreme climate change and a scarcity of freshwater resources. By examining the core issues of food security through the lens of the GFSI, the UAE can deepen the dialogue around the drivers of, and solutions to, food security."

Highlighting that the UAE’s aim is to ramp up technology-enabled domestic food production and that the country’s National Food Security Strategy, launched in November 2018, includes a target of increasing domestic production yield from such methods by 30% by 2021 among 9 other strategic targets, Her Excellency said that the ultimate goal of the UAE is to enhance its food security by becoming a world leading hub for innovation-driven food security.

Her Excellency also stressed that the establishment of the Food Security Office and the launch of the National Food Security Strategy had been instrumental factors in helping the UAE navigate the current COVID-19 pandemic by enabling it to put in place structures to ensure that its citizens and residents are enjoying continued access to affordable supplies of food.

Her Excellency highlighted the vital role of the Emirates Food Security Council at this critical time, with the measures it has taken to ensure the continued availability of food for citizens and residents. These include securing alternative sources of vital food items from neighbouring countries, activating programmes to monitor the flow of food and prevent any supply chain disruptions, and putting in place contingency plans such as using passenger aircraft to transport perishable items.

Reiterating the UAE’s commitment to working with all actors from the state and private sectors at both the national and international levels to ensure that food security becomes a reality for the country, Her Excellency concluded by saying that, along with her colleagues, she is looking forward to the journey to take the UAE to the number one spot on the EIU’s Global Food Security Index.

“For the UAE to attain the top position on the Global Food Security Index will mean so much more than the mere status of being number one on an influential world ranking system, it will have proved that the country has successfully embedded a blueprint to transform its food system into a model that has sustainability at its core. It will show how the latest technology combined with a dedicated strategy, expert governance and a committed will to succeed, can take a country with virtually no natural capacity for food production to become the global leader in food security,” said Her Excellency.