Rome, 7 July 2015 – In six days world leaders will come together in Ethiopia at the Third International Conference on Financing for Development (FfD) to discuss how to pay for the elimination of global poverty and hunger. The United Nation’s only international financing institution, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), will play a lead role, highlighting that the world’s poorest people, the majority of whom live in rural areas, are also a tremendous resource and must be included in the new vision for a sustainable future.
"We are standing at a point of fateful decision. But between discussions around funding and goals, lie billions of rural people who are trying to feed themselves," said IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze, who will travel to Addis Ababa next week with the message that we must to look beyond financial resources and traditional aid.
“It’s not just about the money. The key to a sustainable future free of poverty and hunger is people. Those gathering in Addis need look no further than the continent where they are meeting to see this. Given the right support, rural people can transform their own communities while helping to secure the world’s most essential public goods, including clean air and fresh water.”
Three key summit meetings this year will mark important milestones in developing a new vision for the world’s people, and put in place the resources necessary to make it a reality. The first is FfD, which will attempt to answer the question of how – and by whom – future development plans will be funded over the next 15 years. The second global meeting will mark the finalization of the post-2015 development agenda and sustainable development goals (SDGs) in September, while the third hopes to reach a new global agreement on climate change in December.
Three quarters of the world’s poor and chronically hungry people live in rural areas. They are also mainly dependent on agriculture for their livelihoods. While investments in smallholder farmers and rural development have grown in recent years, increases have been insufficient and rural poverty has persisted, even in countries experiencing economic growth and rising per capita incomes. In fact, inequality has widened. According to a 2014 UN report, income inequality has increased by 11 per cent in developing countries over the two decades between 1990 and 2010. According to Nwanze, increased policy attention and investment in the rural sector is essential to delivering a host of development objectives, including adequate food, clean air, fresh water and biodiversity. And growth in the agricultural sector has been estimated to be at least three times more effective in reducing poverty as growth in any other area. In sub-Saharan Africa, the figure is 11 times.
In the draft FfD agreement – known as the Addis Ababa Accord – it is expected governments will agree to strengthen international cooperation to support investment in sustainable agriculture, with a focus on smallholder and family farmers. The contribution of domestic public resources is recognized as paramount, especially financing public goods such as infrastructure, markets, agricultural research and development, effective governance institutions, climate mitigation and adaptation.
“There are things that money can’t buy,” Nwanze said. “Leadership, good governance, commitment to the rule of law, and an enabling environment to attract investment..”
Nwanze added that IFAD is uniquely positioned as both an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency that mobilizes and invests funds in the rural sector and rural people, and that it is committed to supporting the implementation of the Addis Ababa Accord and helping to realize the SDGs. IFAD will continue to support developing countries to achieve inclusive and sustainable rural transformation, drawing on increasingly diversified sources of funding, and leveraging tools and partnerships. More importantly, IFAD will continue to ensure investments are of a high quality by responding to the needs of rural people in their own local context.
During the four-day FfD summit, IFAD will be engaged in various activities and co-hosting several high-level events including a meeting that will gather Ministers from Ireland, the Netherlands, and Rwanda to discuss emerging strategies in improving investments in the rural sector.