The I2U2 Summit meeting convened for the first time in October 2021 virtually. The member countries are India, Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the United States. The main aim of the group is to cooperate on areas of joint economic investments and new initiatives in water, energy, transportation, space, health, and food security.
The group is deemed as the ‘Middle Eastern QUAD’. It has shown great potential as a regional endeavour. The group foundation was initiated by P.M Yair Lapid in 2021 in a meeting in Washington. The attempt was to gain control over the post-pandemic economic situation challenges.
To quote him, “In the 21st century, challenges are local, but the solutions are global.” The first formal I2U2 Summit meeting was held on 14 July 2022.
Focus Areas and Aims
There are six main areas of cooperation selected by the member countries. They are energy, water, transportation, space, and health and food security. These aims will be fulfilled by focusing on joint investments and new scientific initiatives. The main element of the summit is the above set of pilot projects under the wider global aspect of economic stability, energy crisis, food security and climate change. The target geographical area is the Global South where the disparity among the above parameters is the widest.
According to the joint statement, the group will also focus on mobilizing capital in the private sector, and the modernisation of infrastructure. Other areas are low carbon emission, public health and access to vaccines, and advanced physical connectivity in the region. They will also jointly create solutions for waste treatment, explore joint financing opportunities, and promote green technologies.
Decisions and Outcomes – India’s Takeaway
India is argued to gain benefits from the I2U2 as it will enable New Delhi to play a crucial geopolitical role in the Middle East. The region is a major supplier of energy and has heavy economic interests in India.
The UAE promised $2 billion on food parks in India to ensure waste reduction, freshwater conservation and employ renewable energy sources. India in exchange will provide appropriate land, including farmers’ participation. US and Israel will lend their expertise and innovative solutions to ensure the sustainability of the project. These will aid in greater crop yields to tackle food insecurity in South Asia and the Middle East.
The UAE will set up a hybrid renewable energy project in the India’s state of Gujarat with 300 MWs of wind and solar capacity. The UAE-based companies are exploring opportunities to serve as investment partners. Israel and the United States intend to work to highlight private sector opportunities. Indian companies agreed to participate in this endeavour to achieve the goal of 500 GW of clean fuel capacity by 2030. Such projects can potentially make India a global hub for alternate supply chains in the renewable energy sector.
Amidst several criticisms and doubts, the I2U2 leaders have announced their target sets in food security and sustainable food systems. The leaders welcomed India’s interest in joining the grouping as it is a major food producer. The massive market has warm relations with the countries in the region and is a major buyer of energy from the region. As such this ‘mini-lateral’ initiative can prove to be a strong geopolitical partnership through investments, movement of people and goods, and increased sustainability and resilience through partnerships.