Rome, 11 December 2020 – Despite the economic consequences of COVID-19, a growing number of countries around the world today stepped up their investments in long-term development, signalling a greater awareness of the links between hunger, inequality and instability which often spark humanitarian crises. By pledging new funds to the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), they committed to ensure hundreds of millions of rural people in some of the poorest countries can sustainably access nutritious food and earn decent incomes.
These 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 organization for its work in 2022-2024. Some of the world’s poorest countries were 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.
“As we globally battle the impacts of COVID-19 and a rapidly changing climate, our inter-dependence has never been clearer. 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,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD. “The pledges made today 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.”
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 remains firmly supportive of the important work that IFAD is undertaking to eradicate poverty and to strengthen sustainable food systems,” said Peter Eriksson, Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation.
Describing themselves as “proud to support IFAD,” the Netherlands also announced their significant pledge. “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,” said Kitty van der Heijden, Director-General of International Cooperation at the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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. Meanwhile 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 US$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 would 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 organizations 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.