A senior UAE government official stressed the importance of finding effective and innovative solutions to the challenges caused by climate change and the increasing demand for food due to global population growth.
“We need to take proactive measures to improve resource efficiency, especially optimizing energy and water use, throughout the food value chain,” said Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, during his keynote address at the Symposium on Food Industry and Environment.
The event took place at the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Dubai Chamber) headquarters earlier this month.
Endorsed by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, supported by Dubai Municipality and organised by Al Rawabi Dairy Company, a leading UAE integrated dairy and poultry products company, the one-day event discussed the food industry and its environmental impact on the UAE.
The symposium highlighted efficient environmental management strategies and emphasised the additional layer of complexity climate change imposes on the food business, said a statement.
Al Zeyoudi said: “Feeding the global population as it grows will require food producers to increase productivity by 60 per cent in just three decades while maintaining current quality and nutritional benefits and preserving our environment and resources.”
In addition, he noted that the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment is currently leading the development of a comprehensive national food diversification policy in collaboration with relevant entities from the public and private sector.
The policy will cover the whole value chain for both imported and locally produced food, and include consumption and disposal practices.
Al Zeyoudi’s opening statement outlined the UAE’s efforts to increase the efficiency of domestic food production through implementing new regulations and endorsing the use of state-of-the-art technologies to diversify the supply base and ensure continued stability and affordability of food commodities.
It also stressed the importance of reducing food waste, particularly in the food processing, retail and consumption stages.
In closing, Al Zeyoudi praised the UAE’s drive to enhance the environmental performance of the food industry with a focus on innovation and technological advancements. Furthermore, he highlighted the great potential to increase the contribution of the food sector to the country’s economy.
Congratulating the organisers on a successful symposium, Alexander Mora, Costa Rican Minister of Foreign Trade, said: “Costa Rica has been at the forefront of incorporating environment-friendly initiatives from preservation of natural resources to efficiently leveraging renewable energy and decarbonisation.”
“I am honoured to represent my country – famous for its clean, green natural environment – at this important event,” he added.
Atiq Juma Faraj Nasib, senior vice president of commercial services at Dubai Chamber, said: “As our leadership places great importance on ensuring the health and happiness of all residents, Dubai’s population enjoys one of the highest standards of living in the world.”
“Innovation is a key factor in the progress of any business, and I look forward to the innovative options that the representatives of the food and environmental industry will offer to the public,” he added.
For his part, Engineer Khalid Sharif Al Awadhi, assistant director general for Health, Safety and Environment Control at Dubai Municipality, said: “As a major contributor to the UAE economy, the food industry has the responsibility to ensure food safety and preserve the environment.”
Abdalla Sultan Al Owais, chairman of Emirates Rawabi, said: “The environment, food safety and waste disposal are inherently linked to the health of the community as well as to sustainable development.”
“It is time we – food industry players, the government and regulators – started an in-depth discussion on this topic in the context of a growing economy like ours. We need to identify ways to improve our processes in a sustainable manner to ensure a positive impact on society,” he said.
Dr Ahmed El Tigani, general manager of Al Rawabi Dairy Company, noted that certain segments of the food sector, such as the dairy industry, have achieved high levels of self-reliance, helping reduce imports.”
“The fact that we are addressing this subject today means we are on the road to success in our endeavours to increase food security through developing a home grown food industry,” he concluded. – TradeArabia News Service