The leaders of Israel, India, the United States and the United Arab Emirates announce a pair of massive collaborative projects in the fields of food security and clean energy as they meet virtually during US President Joe Biden’s visit to Jerusalem.
Biden, Prime Minister Yair Lapid, UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi make the announcement in a joint statement their offices issued during their virtual meeting — the highest level gathering to date of the new, US-formulated I2U2 forum.
The joint statement says the four countries would aim 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 I2U2 countries also will utilize their respective private sectors to advance low carbon development pathways, improve public health and access to vaccines, jointly create new solutions for waste treatment, and promote the development of green technologies, the communique says.
The countries stress their support for Israel’s integration in the region, drawing a connection between the Abraham Accords normalization agreements and the formation of forums such as the I2U2.
They also welcome other new regional groupings such as the Negev Forum, which consists of Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt and the US.
Notably, the joint statement makes no mention of the Palestinians. The US in the past has pressed for inclusion of a commitment to advance the two-state solution in such documents, though it might have been outnumbered by the three other countries whose leaders have expressed less interest in publicly promoting the issue.
The leaders “discussed innovative ways to ensure longer-term, more diversified food production and food delivery systems that can better manage global food shocks,” the communique says.
As for the two projects, the first will see the UAE invest $2 billion to develop a series of food parks across India that will incorporate green technologies to reduce food waste, conserve fresh water and employ renewable energy sources.
The collaboration will see India provide land and integrate its farmers into the project, and the US and Israel will encourage their respective private sectors to offer their expertise for the initiative, which will help address food insecurity in South Asia and the Middle East.
The second initiative will be the creation of a hybrid renewable energy project in “India’s Gujarat State of 300 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar capacity complemented by a battery energy storage system,” the joint statement says.
The US Trade and Development Agency footed a $330 million feasibility study for the project and Emirati companies are exploring investment opportunities, with the encouragement of the US and Israeli governments.
The project will help advance India’s goal of achieving 500 GW of non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030 and transform the country into a global hub for renewable energy.
The I2U2 leaders stress that the two projects were only the beginning of a “long-term strategic partnership that… improve the movement of people and goods across hemispheres and increase sustainability… [through] collaborative science and technology partnerships.”