Jun. 18, 2015


Chris Hegadorn

UAE, Abu Dhabi

Chris Hegadorn

Director, Office of Global Food Security of the United States Department of State,

TBY talks to Chris Hegadorn, Director of the Office of Global Food Security of the United States Department of State, on climate-smart food security and how the US and the UAE can work together.

BIO

Chris Hegadorn is the Director of the Office of Global Food Security at the United States Department of State, which is responsible for the diplomatic component of US food security policy. Hegadon served previously as Deputy Director of the Office of Israel and Palestinian Affairs, as Alternate Permanent Representative at the US Mission to the UN Agencies in Rome, and served tours in Baghdad, Cairo, Pretoria, and Beijing. Before joining the State Department, Chris worked on Capitol Hill and at the Department of Agriculture’s Food and Nutrition Service. He has degrees from Bryant University, the University of Pittsburgh, and the National Defense University.

Abu Dhabi played host to the second Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture in 2015. What were the main objectives of your visit to the event, and what were some of the major take-aways?

My primary objective in coming to GFIA was to demonstrate the US government's strong commitment to global food security and promote climate-smart agriculture—in essence, what we often refer to as “climate-smart food security." As Secretary Kerry mentioned in his videotaped remarks for the conference, this is a global issue that needs a unified, global response. Our office at the Department of State, working with our colleagues in the Department of Agriculture, the US Agency for International Development, and many other agencies, are working collectively to support climate resilience at home and through our international development work abroad. One important element of that work is through membership and support for the Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture (GACSA), launched at the UN Secretary General's Climate Summit in September 2014. The Global Alliance serves as a focal point for a multilateral and multi-sector approach to addressing the immediate threat of climate change to food production, including in the land/crops, fisheries, forestry, and livestock sectors. With a dedicated, collective effort from all sectors of agriculture, and from both public and private contributions, we can help farmers to improve their productivity, adapt to climate change, and where possible help ensure that agriculture has a positive role in net emission of greenhouse gases. It was clear in Abu Dhabi that there is a tremendous energy around ensuring global food security and improved nutrition outcomes, with a multitude of organizations and experts all committed to sustainable ways to address hunger and malnutrition. Pushing sustainable, innovative agriculture practices into the 21st century, while assisting poor and vulnerable farmers, especially women smallholder farmers in the developing world, is an imperative that clearly was a priority at GFIA.

Where do you see opportunities for the UAE, and Abu Dhabi in particular, to work with the US in addressing global food security challenges?

First, I wish to acknowledge the leadership and commitment from the government of the UAE, for not only hosting the GFIA conference in 2015, but also for hosting the Abu Dhabi Ascent meeting last April, 2014, which served as an important milestone for the eventual launch of the Global Alliance. We look forward to the UAE joining the Alliance, and to its continued leadership and support for innovative solutions to agricultural development, in the Middle East and further afield. In remarks I made during a panel session on climate-smart agriculture during the GFIA conference, I referenced the commitment by the UAE Minister of Environment and Water, Dr. Rashid bin Fahad, to identifying and adopting critical innovative ways to grow crops in a tough environmental location. The UAE understands, as well as any country, the tremendous challenges associated with climate change, limited water resources, and the criticality of an open, transparent international trading system to sustainable food security. As Dr. Rashid has said publicly, the international community cannot guarantee food security unless we curb the harmful impacts of climate change. The UAE continues to play a critical role in the Near East and East African regions, especially in regard to innovative agriculture and addressing climate change. We welcome their commitment to sustainable, responsible agricultural investment and development, and look forward to a continued fruitful partnership both in GACSA, and regionally.

As the UAE invests in agricultural land abroad, what role can the UAE play in leveraging innovative and smart solutions for the development of the agriculture and food production sectors worldwide?

The UAE has already had a profound impact and catalyzing effect on regional innovation and smart solutions to food security and agricultural development. The technical, financial, and policy-based understanding the UAE brings to agricultural land abroad has been instrumental in countries, such as Algeria. However, the ability to leverage regional capacity on a global scale and find mutually beneficial areas of focus is critical for moving UAE's agenda forward. Having access to climate smart agriculture experts, experienced local farmers groups, governments, civil society, businesses, and multilateral agencies will provide a space where innovation and smart solutions can be developed, adapted, and adopted. The GACSA offers a unified platform that encourages regional collaborations as climate change does not follow national borders. As I mentioned in my talk at Abu Dhabi, time is not on our side. The clock is ticking and people are suffering. GACSA will be critical for the international development agenda as we work together to end the scourge of hunger.

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