I2U2: Israel, UAE, US, and India launch joint food security, clean energy initiatives

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Israel, India, the US, and the United Arab Emirates held a meeting on Thursday to discusses joint cooperation in food security and clean energy initiatives, among other areas of mutual interest, at the inaugural I2U2 Group meeting, the nations’ heads of state said in a joint statement.

“This unique grouping of countries aims to harness the vibrancy of our societies and entrepreneurial spirit to tackle some of the greatest challenges confronting our world, with a particular focus on joint investments and new initiatives in water, energy, transportation, space, health, and food security,” the joint statement read.

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The I2U2 stands for India, Israel, the UAE and the US which was previously referred to by the UAE’s Ambassador to India Ahmed al-Banna as the ‘West Asian Quad.’

The leaders said they intended to mobilize private sector capital and expertise to bolster efforts in the carbon development space, improve public health and access to vaccines, modernize infrastructure, and advance connectivity between Middle Eastern countries.

They aim to achieve these objectives by devising new solutions for waste management, connecting startups from their respective countries to I2U2 investments, explore areas for joint financing and promote the development of critical emerging and green technologies, in addition to tackling the current global food and energy insecurity crisis.

At the inaugural meeting, the leaders focused on clean energy and the food security crisis, highlighting ways in which they could ensure “longer-term, more diversified food production and food delivery systems that can better manage global shocks.”

Tackling food security

Home to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and host of the 2023 climate change conference COP28, the UAE will invest $2 billion in developing a series of integrated food parks across India which will incorporate cutting-edge, climate-smart technologies to reduce food waste, conserve fresh water, and deploy renewable energy sources.

India will provide the land needed for the project and facilitate the integration of farmers into the food parks.

Companies operating in the US and Israeli private sectors will be invited to offer their expertise and solutions that can play a role in contributing to the overall sustainability of the project.

US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid participate in a bilateral meeting, in Jerusalem, July 14, 2022. (Reuters)
US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid participate in a bilateral meeting, in Jerusalem, July 14, 2022. (Reuters)

“These investments will help maximize crop yields and, in turn, help tackle food insecurity in South Asia and the Middle East,” the heads of state said.

Renewed push for clean energy

The I2U2 Group also intends to advance a hybrid renewable energy project – worth $330 million – in India’s Gujarat State, which will consist of 300 megawatts of wind and solar capacity complemented by a battery energy storage system. The feasibility study for the project was funded by the US Trade and Development Agency.

UAE-based companies are already exploring ways in which they can support the project with their expertise and investment partners.

Israel and the US will cooperate with India and the UAE to highlight private sector opportunities in the clean energy space.

Several companies in India have expressed their interest in participating in this project which is in line with India’s goal of achieving 500 gigawatts of non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030.

“Such projects have the potential to make India a global hub for alternate supply chains in the renewable energy sector,” they said.

“We reaffirm our support for the Abraham Accords and other peace and normalization arrangements with Israel,” the leaders said, adding that opportunities for economic cooperation in the Middle East and South Asia, especially those that “flow from these historic developments” and push for sustainable investment.

“We also welcome other new groupings of countries, such as the Negev Forum for regional cooperation, that recognize the unique contributions of each partner country, including Israel’s ability to serve as an innovation hub connecting new partners and hemispheres to strategically address challenges that are too great for any one country to manage alone,” the heads of state said.

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