The Saudi Ministry of Economy and Planning (MEP) and UpLink, the World Economic Forum's (WEF) open innovation platform, launched an innovation challenge designed to crowdsource transformative solutions to enhance food security in countries impacted by low rainfall, drought, and desertification.
The Food Ecosystems and Arid Climates Challenge is a global call for food entrepreneurs, start-ups, social ventures, and small-medium-sized enterprises to submit solutions incorporating low or high technologies.
The announcement was made at the Forum's 2023 Annual Meeting in Davos as part of Saudi Arabia's efforts to develop innovative solutions to the world's most critical challenges through cooperation and collaboration.
The winning cohort would be eligible to access CHF100,000 to scale and implement their venture in regions with arid climates while enhancing their visibility and access to networking opportunities.
“Our world faces a wide range of major socioeconomic challenges, and food security is at the top of the list,” Saudi Minister of Economy and planning Faisal al-Ibrahim said.
Ibrahim noted that the Kingdom was fully committed to being a significant innovation accelerator and dedicating resources to empower and support entrepreneurs who are determined to tackle the challenge of food security, in this case, in regions with arid climates.
Around 828 million people today are hungry, while 2.3 billion are food insecure. Furthermore, 3.1 billion people globally cannot afford a healthy diet, and it is estimated that 700 million will be displaced by drought by 2030.
The challenge aimed to strengthen food security and improve the supply of healthy and nutritious foods in arid regions by supporting solutions with a substantial socioeconomic, environmental, and educational impact to enhance local food value chains.
MEP established the Sustainable Development Steering Committee, which coordinates government efforts across the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Agenda.
Since establishing the Sustainable Development Steering Committee (SDSC), a governance structure has been operationalized and chaired by Ibrahim and includes 20 senior stakeholders from various government entities to oversee Saudi Arabia's SDG Agenda.
Saudi Arabia participated in the Annual Meeting 2023 (AM23) of the World Economic Forum in Davos between 16-20 January to bridge global divides and facilitate near-term stability while driving multilateral reform and long-term transformation.