President of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Gilbert F. Houngbo, is currently busy harping on how the world can prevent conflict and mass migration in 2021.
According to him, ‘’it is essential to work together to transform our food systems and increase the prosperity and well-being of the world’s most vulnerable rural people, so that we can prevent mass migration and conflict, building a stable, peaceful world for all.”
There is meaning in what Houngbo is saying. As leaders globally battle the impacts of COVID-19 and a rapidly changing climate, inter-dependence of humanity has never been clearer.
Despite the economic consequences of the rampaging COVID-19, a growing number of countries around the world are already stepping up their investments in long-term development, signaling a greater awareness of the links between hunger, inequality and instability which often ignite humanitarian crises.
By pledging new funds to the UN’s IFAD, they are committing to ensure hundreds of millions of rural people in some of the poorest countries can sustainably access nutritious food and earn decent incomes.
Encouraging announcements were made at the first formal pledging session in support of IFAD’s Twelfth Replenishment – a process whereby member states commit funds to the organisation for its work in 2022-2024.
Some of the world’s poorest countries are among the first to announce their commitments. Ahead of the pledging session, Pope Francis also indicated his support to IFAD through an unprecedented contribution from the Holy See.
“The pledges made not only show the commitment of these nations to eradicate poverty and hunger, but are also a demonstration of their confidence in the impact of IFAD’s work”, the IFAD big boss said.
These sentiments were echoed by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State of His Holiness the Pope, in a statement. “We simply cannot keep silent in the face of so much suffering and adversity”, he said.
“Today more than ever the international community must join forces to prepare for and achieve a future that is sustainable, inclusive and just for all. This is what we must do and it is within our reach: help the poorest and most vulnerable people of our world.”
Sweden announced a pledge today that is 60 per cent higher than their last contribution. Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation, Peter Eriksson, says “Sweden remains firmly supportive of the important work that IFAD is undertaking to eradicate poverty and to strengthen sustainable food systems.”
Describing themselves as “proud to support IFAD,” the Netherlands also announced their significant pledge.
Director-General of International Cooperation at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kitty van der Heijden, says “the Netherlands strongly values its partnership with IFAD in making a difference for rural people and food security and remains a dedicated donor in agricultural development to tackle poverty and hunger.”
IFAD is one of the world’s largest multilateral financiers of agriculture and rural development, active in remote, rural areas in almost 100 countries.
For over 40 years, its work has shown that investing in rural areas promotes prosperity, food security and resilience to weather changes, natural disasters, price hikes and other shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic that can later lead to humanitarian crises.
Research also shows that economic growth in agriculture is two to three times more effective at reducing poverty than growth in other sectors.
Many other member states announced their intention to step up their contributions in this first pledging session. Finland raised its contribution by more than 40 per cent. Japan also made a significant pledge. Greece, Luxembourg, and São Tomé and Príncipe increased their contributions.
Cabo Verde and other countries also pledged, joining those who announced contributions to IFAD earlier in the year including Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, and Mali who pledged to at least double their most recent contributions to IFAD, with large increases also coming from The Gambia, Sierra Leone and Uganda.
Many other countries have confirmed their intention to announce increased contributions at the main pledging session in February 2021.
IFAD has called for donors to significantly increase their contributions to deliver an overall programme of work of at least $11 billion from 2022 to 2024, including through a new private sector financing programme and an expansion of its pioneering climate change adaptation programme (ASAP+).
This will help approximately 140 million rural people increase their production and raise their incomes through better market access, contributing to creating jobs and improving food security and nutrition for the world’s most vulnerable people.
IFAD is unique among international organisations in that far more of its member states contribute to its core funding, including some of the world’s poorest countries, highlighting the value they place on the support they receive from the Fund.
IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, it has provided $22.4 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached an estimated 512 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a United Nations specialised agency based in Rome – the United Nations food and agriculture hub.