ICARDA at MENA Climate Week 2023
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 8 – 12 October 2023 – ICARDA led the OneCGIAR delegation to the Middle East and North Africa Climate Week 2023 (MENA CW 2023). The high-level participation of the delegation, led by Aly Abousabaa, CGIAR Regional Director of CWANA and Director General of ICARDA, reflected CGIAR’s commitment to strengthening partnerships in the region to work together on developing climate-smart and resilient agri-solutions for dryland farmers.
Ahead of COP28, MENACW 2023 provides an early platform for policymakers, practitioners, the private sector, and civil society to share knowledge on climate solutions and barriers to overcome and collaborate on action.
The MENA CW CGIAR delegation, comprising representatives from ICARDA, IWMI, IFPRI, WorldFish, CIMMYT, and the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT, engaged in events and bilateral meetings, virtually and in-person to raise awareness of CGIAR's work and highlight the efforts of partners in delivering tailored solutions for dryland agri-challenges. These efforts extend beyond MENA to other global dry regions affected by climate emergencies.
The delegation aimed to foster regional partnerships, advocating for climate negotiations and increased funding for innovative and climate-ready solutions. The significance of funding research to transform food systems was highlighted, particularly by H.E. Mariam Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, UAE, at the High-Level Ministerial Panel on Adaptation: Towards a Global Goal on Adaptation that Adapts to a 1.5-degree World on the first day.
The conference debated the urgency of climate action and the realistic pace of transitioning to green energy. Some speakers showcased innovative battery and carbon capture technologies, advocating caution in the shift away from fossil fuels. Others emphasized the rapid global warming and its destructive impacts, urging immediate action. CGIAR itself has long focused not just on affordable innovation for farmers but on reducing agri-emission, which accounts for around 30% of total global greenhouse gases, as well. The debate continues.
“To advance regional climate adaptation, we must prioritize: (1) partnerships with stakeholders, (2) securing financial resources in adequate quantity and quality (3) providing technical support, and (4) ensuring inclusive and participatory efforts. These actions help identify needs, implement projects, share knowledge, engage communities, and foster effective strategies for long-term sustainability.”
- Roula Majdalani, Senior Climate Change Advisor, ICARDA
Throughout our participation at the conference, we highlighted CGIAR’s collaborations with regional funding initiatives such as AIM4C and the COP27 Initiatives AWARe, NWAFE, and FAST.
CGIAR and Related Events
This session engaged experts and the audience in examining the region's vulnerabilities to the impact of climate change, including temperature, precipitation, water availability, sand and dust storms, and associated implications for agriculture and food systems.
The ICARDA event focused on integrating traditional desert farming approaches with modern innovation and technology. IDFS also advocates for sharing knowledge, assets, and expertise from around the CWANA region through a central hub also led by ICARDA. Speakers at the events ranged from funding partners, policy advisors, and research institutions to private sector individuals who are at the business end of innovations and can provide an important voice for the viability of CGIAR innovations in the field.
"IDFS represents a way for progressive food systems transition. Providing resilience for communities and governments while reducing emissions to advance the climate agenda."
– Suzan Al-Ajjawi, Climate Advisor to the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, KSA
“We feel our region, with its farming experience in harsh conditions, can be a global seedbed for climate-resilient agriculture.”
- Samantha Kayruz, Head of Strategy and Sustainability Impact, Goumbook
IWMI presented research findings and solutions to unlock the full water reuse potential in the MENA region. They addressed challenges like cultural barriers, institutional fragmentation, regulatory frameworks, and insufficient financial models that hinder cost recovery and project sustainability.
"To ensure the safe and beneficial reuse of wastewater, it is imperative to establish comprehensive guidelines that not only prevent its illegal and potentially fatal use but also encompass rigorous monitoring."
– Dr. Shahira Wahbi, Director, Department of Housing, Water Resources, and Disaster Risk Reduction, League of Arab States
IWMI revealed recent findings of a review on CSA-based practices in North Africa, focusing on their role in mitigating agriculture-related GHG emissions. It highlighted key gaps in reducing emissions within the regional food system.
IFPRI presented models and evidence analyzing the effects of policies and investments on poverty, social inclusion, nutrition, and climate change. They emphasized the importance of evidence in guiding policy decisions during real-time shocks and alternative futures, bridging gaps in understanding for effective policy design and implementation.
“To provide the most accurate data, we create country research models on key aspects such as economics, hydrology, and agriculture, and we link these together and with the high variables of climate change models."
– Dr. Khalid Siddig, Senior Research Fellow/Leader of Sudan Program, IFPRI
In addition to the CGIAR-hosted events, CGIAR representatives from ICARDA and the Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT actively participated in other events over the week.
- UNFCCC Adaptation Committee: Boosting region-wide coherence on adaptation
- No one left behind: Accelerating climate action in countries affected by fragility, conflict and protracted humanitarian crises
- UNFCCC: Building capacities for NAP implementation strategies
During the regional climate weeks, the COP28 presidency reiterated the need for enhanced global action to tackle interconnected issues of climate change and the food system, encompassing production, consumption, trade, and resilience. State Parties were invited to sign the COP28 Declaration on Resilient Food Systems, Sustainable Agriculture, and Climate Action, aligning their commitment with climate action plans. CGIAR and other global stakeholders are now focusing their efforts on COP28 in response to this call for collective action.