IFAD President announces renewed emphasis on nutrition, gender equality, climate change and youth
Heads-of-state, ministers and government representatives gathered for the opening of the 41st session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to discuss how investing in rural people in developing countries is central to building peace and stability around the world.
Opening the event was a message from the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres who urged high-level government ministers and delegates to build on IFAD's work. "Through its investments in smallholder farming and rural development, IFAD has been fundamental in moving communities out of fragility,” he said. “The Fund's work also creates opportunities for young people. Our shared challenge is to build on these achievements and to do everything we can to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development."
During her keynote address, Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, highlighted how the country plans to overcome an onslaught of challenges including a growing population (the country is one of the most densely populated in the world) and rising sea levels due to climate change by investing in sustainable rural transformation. “The challenge of leaving no one behind is most significant in rural areas,” Hasina said. “A comprehensive sustainable rural economy requires investment in the development of rural social fabric and climate resilience.” The Bangladesh Prime Minister praised IFAD for its inclusive "model of mutual help and partnership," which distinguished it from other organizations and called for development partners to be “more generous in order to eliminate poverty and hunger.”
In his keynote address,IFAD President Gilbert F. Houngbo pledged to strengthen the Fund’s role as a catalyst for attracting development financing to make more resources available for rural transformation and announced the mainstreaming of nutrition, gender equality, climate and youth into all areas of programmes and projects.
“We must be ambitious, but we also need to be mindful of fragile situations,” Houngbo said, adding that fragility can “unravel” decades of development. “IFAD has an essential role to play here. Sustainable and inclusive investment in rural development will build people’s resilience over the long term and prepare them to deal with these fragile situations.”
This year’s theme for the event held annually is From fragility to long-term resilience: investing in sustainable rural economies. Globally, increasing numbers of people are living in fragile situations. The incidence of violent conflict is at an all-time high, which is multiplying the numbers of internally displaced persons and refugees.
Fragility was also the focus of the 2018 IFAD Lecture, delivered by J.J. Messner, Executive Director of the Fund for Peace. In her introduction to the lecture, IFAD’s new Vice-President Cornelia Richter pointed out that, “fragility is at the heart of IFAD’s work, because we aim to reach those people who are the most marginalized, who live in extreme poverty and hunger.”
During his lecture, Messner told delegates that fragility goes beyond geographical borders. “Though we often talk about fragility and resilience in terms of the nation-state, the reality is that issues of fragility and resilience often know no borders and can frequently be transnational or regional in nature.”
He added that data collection on the underlining drivers of fragility and the measurement of resilience to handle challenges needs to be improved in order to better inform policy. “Every country – developed or developing alike – experiences fragility to different degrees. What sets countries apart is their resilience, or their ability to withstand shocks and capacity to respond effectively to those pressures.”