- The other UN food agencies and close allies of IFAD’s mission – the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) – echoed the message of collaboration in their addresses to the Governing Council, IFAD’s highest decision-making body
- Today, the Governing Council events continue with the launch of an impact fund targeting rural entrepreneurs with Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development and a presentation by Gunhild Stordalen, Executive Chair of the EAT Foundation, who will talk about feeding a growing population on a planet with finite resources
Pope Francis set the tone for the 42nd session of the annual Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) by saying that hunger can be made a part of the world’s past’
He said institutions and people should work together with efforts being owned locally and driven by those who are suffering most, as architects of their own development.
The Pope told the government leaders attending IFAD’s annual Member State meeting on Thursday in Rome that IFAD’s contribution is essential for “eradication of poverty, the fight against hunger and the promotion of food sovereignty.”
“We have to see to it that each person, each community can utilize their own capacities to live a full life with dignity.”
In a press release on Thursday, IFAD President Gilbert F. Houngbo said that the Pope’s message to the UN agency served as a reminder of the importance of IFAD’s mission.
“Our investment in rural youth and the operations that our teams carry out every day in the field are based on a deep conviction. We cannot and shall not return to a world where hunger increases every year,” Houngbo said.
Citing the strong collaboration between IFAD and its host country, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said that “our common goal must be to strive and contribute to the development of a mature and sustainable African entrepreneurship, and to support young people and women.”
“Women have always been the fulcrum of the rural economy as well as custodians of the earth and the first responsible for the care of new generations.”
“On our continent the inequalities are deep, if we talk about opportunities they are not the same for those who are born male or female … to be born in the capital or to be born in a rural area,” said Danilo Medina Sánchez, President of the Dominican Republic, who reaffirmed his commitment to closing the inequality gap and continuing to build “hope” in rural areas.
Throughout the day, the need to expand economic opportunity to the poorest people was voiced by many including Ms Geraldine Mukeshimana, Rwanda Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources who delivered an address on behalf of President Paul Kagame. She said that rural women still face many challenges such as access to land, education and finance, even if they work longer hours than their male counterparts.
FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said: “Let me stress FAO’s commitment to deepen the collaboration with IFAD and WFP to deliver on our common goal of a world free from hunger and all forms of malnutrition.”
David Beasley, the Executive Director of WFP, highlighted the important role of smallholder farmers. “If we all work together to fix the structural problems that exist in global food systems, which mean so many food producers are also food insecure, we have a real shot at achieving zero hunger by 2030,” he said.
“This is why the Rome-based agencies are collaborating to support innovation and entrepreneurship among smallholder farmers.”