I2U2 FOOD PARK
India will provide appropriate land for food parks across the county that will be built in collaboration with Israel, the United States of America, and the United Arab Emirates.
- The United Arab Emirates (home to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and host of COP28 in 2023 ) announced an investment of USD 2 billion to develop a series of integrated food parks in India with the help of the I2U2 grouping to address food security in South Asia and the Middle East. The decision was announced during the virtual summit held by the leaders of the grouping this week.
- The I2U2 group also proposed hybrid renewable energy projects in Gujarat consisting of 300 megawatts of wind and solar capacity, along with a battery energy storage system.
Advantages of Such Investments for India
- It will also help to facilitate farmer integration into the food parks, more diversified food production, and develop robust food delivery systems that can better manage global food shocks.
- It will develop a series of integrated food parks across India that will incorporate state-of-the-art climate-smart technologies to reduce food waste and spoilage, conserve fresh water, and employ renewable energy sources.
- India’s interest in joining the US, The UAE, and Israel in Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate Initiative (AIM for Climate), will help India to achieve its goal of 500 GW of non–fossil fuel capacity by 2030 and has the potential to make India a global hub for alternate supply chains in the renewable energy sector.
About Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate Initiative (AIM for Climate)
- On 2nd November 2021, at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), the United States, and the United Arab Emirates officially launched AIM for Climate, along with 31 countries and 48 non-government partners.
- It intends to mobilize a $1 billion investment in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation over five years (2021- 2025).
- It will boost investment, joint financing opportunities and mobilize private sector capital and expertise in critical emerging green technologies, food security, wastewater treatment, etc in India.
- I2u2 stands for India, Israel, UAE, and the USA and is referred to as the West Asian Quad. It was also given the name “International Forum for Economic Cooperation”.
- It mainly focused on expanding economic and political cooperation in the middle east and Asia in the area of trade, combating climate change, energy cooperation, and also coordinating on mutual interests.
- As the QUAD has become a central pillar in the Indo-Pacific in the same way I2U2 can become the pillar of the broader middle east region.
- The first virtual summit of I2U2 focused heavily on the global food and energy crisis mainly resulting from the conflict in Ukraine.
Background of I2U2 grouping
- Israel, UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco signed the Abraham Accord in 2020 which was brokered by the United States meant to normalize the relationship between Israel and Arab Gulf countries.
- In October 2021 I2U2 was formed, initially to deal with issues concerning maritime security, infrastructure, and transport.
Aim of I2U2 grouping
- It aims to discuss the common area of mutual interest and to strengthen the economic partnership in trade and investment in the respective regions.
- Mainly the six areas of cooperation have been identified which are water, energy, transportation, space, health, and food security.
- With the help of the private sector the countries will look to modernize infrastructure, improve the health system of the country and promote the development of critical emerging green technologies.
- India’s move to join the US, the UAE, and Israel in the new grouping reflected its keenness to take advantage of the Abraham Accords to deepen engagement with Israel, without risking its relations with the Arab nations of the Persian Gulf.
Significance of I2U2 for India
The grouping of this four-country becomes crucial to address the issue of food security and safety.
The report by the State of Food Security and Nutrition (2020) quotes that around 14% of India’s total population is undernourished.
It will help the countries to explore security cooperation among the four nations. Even India already has robust bilateral security cooperation with all the major countries in these grouping.
Grouping will boost India’s project to build a connectivity corridor that runs from India to the Arabian gulf across the Arabian Peninsula to Israel, Jordon, and from there to the European Union.
It will also help India to cut the cost of moving containers significantly.
As the UAE is the second largest export destination of India after the USA, so it will help to re-energize the system of trade and commerce among the four countries.
Geopolitical Significance of I2U2 for India
- Until now India has always kept a separate policy for West Asia but this is the first step to bring those relationships with UAE and Israel together and merge them.
- India will get an advantage from the Abraham accords to deepen engagement with Israel without risking its tie with the UAE and the other Arab states.
- This grouping will boost India’s geopolitical presence, especially in West Asia, and will lead to strengthen India’s Look West Policy.
- Investment in India can increase as these Arab countries are great sources of investment and even increase the prospects of defense cooperation.
- Though the Abraham accord is a breakthrough in the Arab-Israeli problem, the other states in the region are still reluctant to maintain friendly bilateral relations with Israel due to the Israel-Palestine conflict as a major area of concern.
- There is also internal conflict in the Arab world like the Shia-Sunni conflict between Iran and Saudi Arabia is also one of serious concern.
- Internal conflict in the Arab world will possibly lead to the development of two groups one including China, Pakistan, Russia, Iran, and Turkey while the other including India, Israel, the USA, and UAE. India though would potentially gain partners in the West but also may find it difficult to balance its bilateral relations with Iran.
- Threat due to China’s expanding role in the middle east. By investing more than one and half billion dollars in Israel’s Haifa port and also building Ashdod port which is the only port Israel has in the Mediterranean Sea. China has also given Huawei assistance to the UAE for its 5G project.
India needs to balance the rival countries diplomatically and strategically to maintain friendly relations with each other in the region. India has to reassure other partners in West Asia, especially Iran which is important in relation to the present context of Afghanistan, energy security, and connectivity between North-South.