International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has given some worrisome reasons why ongoing struggles to eradicate hunger and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be met.
IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, it has provided $23.2 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached an estimated 518 million people.
IFAD which is an international financial institution and a United Nations specialised agency based in Rome – the United Nations food and agriculture hub, however argues, ‘’if we do not invest more in protecting biodiversity, development cannot be sustainable and we will not eradicate hunger or achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.’’\
IFAD’s President, Gilbert F. Houngbo, was speaking ahead of his participation in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress in Marseille.
According to the IFAD chief, “biodiversity is a cornerstone of healthy and sustainable food systems. From protecting pollinators, to improving soil fertility and building resilience to the effects of climate change, biodiversity is fundamental to addressing global hunger. But the clock is ticking. We need to increase our investments to protect biodiversity before it is too late. Our future depends on it.”
As part of its own increase in biodiversity investments, IFAD has announced a commitment to focus 30 percent of its climate finance to support nature-based solutions in rural small-scale agriculture by 2030.
Nature-based solutions promote the proactive conservation, management and restoration of natural ecosystems and biodiversity to contribute to addressing the challenges of climate change, food and water security, and human health.
“Rural communities and small-scale farmers have a vital role to play. They are dependent on biodiversity, but are also important custodians of it, growing a wider range of species and varieties than large-scale farms”, said Houngbo.
IFAD’s investments in nature-based solutions aim to promote a healthy biosphere, increasing productivity and improving food security, nutrition and resilience to climate change. Improving agricultural biodiversity on small-scale farms results in healthy, productive soils which sequester more carbon. This therefore can also make an important cumulative contribution to carbon storage.
The IUCN World Conservation Congress brings together governments, civil society, Indigenous Peoples, scientists and business to promote initiatives on the most urgent environmental and sustainability challenges, such as the biodiversity and climate crises in the context of the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Houngbo will announce IFAD’s investment commitment at the high-level roundtable on ‘Financing for Biodiversity’ where he is a keynote speaker along with the Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank.
Eight out of 10 of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas, and most depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Ironically, they are the ones most likely to go hungry. There was a dramatic increase in global hunger in 2020, with up to 811 million hungry people.