British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said Monday that the U.K. is setting up a new science initiative to help develop flood-tolerant rice, disease-resistant wheat and other crops that are more resilient to climate change.
Sunak was joined by ministers, diplomats and philanthropists from about 20 countries at a one-day Global Food Security Summit in London, where he urged world leaders to harness artificial intelligence and other cutting-edge technology to end malnutrition around the globe.
Sunak told delegates that a “fundamental shift” is needed to confront a food-security crisis that is being worsened by climate change.
He focused on the role of science and said the U.K. would set up a “virtual science hub” linking international researchers working on more resilient crops. The U.K. hub will be part of a global research partnership known as CGIAR.
“Climate change, conflict and population rise mean ever greater challenges to food supplies,” Sunak said. “So we need a fundamental shift in the way we approach food security, with a focus on long-term solutions to stop food crises before they start. And we need to harness the full power of science and technology to ensure supplies are resilient to threats like conflict, drought and floods.”
The event was co-hosted by Somalia and the United Arab Emirates alongside the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The summit coincided with publication of a “re-energized” U.K. development strategy aimed at ending extreme poverty and tackling climate change and biodiversity loss. The document sets out the U.K.’s aid plans through 2030, and confirms Britain will not restore development aid to 0.7% of gross national income.