By Lisa Barrington

DUBAI (Reuters) – The United States and the United Arab Emirates are seeking an additional $4 billion of global investment in an initiative launched last year to make agriculture resilient to climate change and reduce its emissions, a U.S. official said on Sunday.

The two countries launched the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) at COP26 climate talks in November, aiming for $4 billion investment from governments and non-government innovation partners between 2021-2025.

AIM now wants $8 billion in climate-smart investment commitments by the November COP27 climate talks in Egypt, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack told Reuters ahead of AIM’s first ministerial meeting in Dubai on Monday.

“We believe we actually need to set a higher goal. President Biden believes we should get $8 billion by COP27,” Vilsack said.

The initiative is supported by 140 partners who have agreed to increase public and private investment in climate-smart agriculture research and practices.

The initial $4 billion target comprised $1 billion each from the U.S. and UAE governments, $1.8 billion from other governments and $200 million from non-government partners.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently said it would invest $1 billion in pilot projects for climate-smart commodities, promoting farming, ranching and forestry practices that cut emissions.

Vilsack said that initiative could qualify as part of U.S. AIM for Climate targets. “There are a number of different ways those resources could be identified.”

The U.S. farming industry is already battling the effects of climate change, including increased drought and flooding.

The UAE, a Gulf oil producer that imports the majority of its food and desalinates seawater for potable water is investing heavily in agricultural and water technologies, and clean energy.

The UAE hosts COP28 climate talks in 2023.

“Agriculture and food systems offer immense opportunities for global climate action,” UAE Climate Change Minister Mariam al-Mheiri said in a statement.

IBM’s pro-bono Sustainability Accelerator will become one of AIM’s partners and will start in India assisting smallholding farms to adopt climate-smart practices, Vilsack said.

Washington will host an AIM for Climate summit in spring 2023.

“We don’t have time to waste,” Vilsack said.

(Reporting by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)