CAIRO – 19 February 2021: Donors have pledged US$3.8 billion to the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to invest in the world’s rural poor, in light of addressing the devastating socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 and climate change.
The unprecedented record-high financing target set by governments from 177 countries at IFAD’s annual Governing Council will reach approximately 140 million people in the world’s most fragile and remote areas over three years.
IFAD aims to deliver at least $11 billion from 2022-2024 throughout its pioneering climate change adaptation program (ASAP+), a new private sector financing program, and co-financing by national and international partners.
IFAD’s largest donor, the United States, committed $129 million which represents a 43 per cent increase on its previous level of funding. Germany has pledge US$101 million, in addition to the US$19 million contribution to the climate-financing program ASAP+.
Also, France announced $106 million – an additional 50 per cent, while, Italy pledged $96 million – an additional 45 per cent. Sweden will give $87.3 million, equivalent to an additional 60 per cent in Swedish krona. Ireland pledged $14.3 million – an additional 66 per cent), amongst others.
Finland and Norway also increased their core pledges by 40 per cent in national currency, China, the Netherlands, Japan and Canada pledged $85 million, $82.9 million, $57.3 million, and $55.5 million respectively.
“Today our Member States made it clear that the fate of the poor and hungry matters. All of us are united in our battle against the impacts of COVID-19 and a rapidly changing climate – but none feel the impacts more profoundly than rural people in the world’s poorest countries,” said President of IFAD Gilbert F. Houngbo, who was re-appointed for the fund presidency for a second four-year term at the 44th session of the IFAD Governing Council, which comes under the name “Rural development: a prerequisite for global resilience.”
In a question asked by Egypt Today during a virtual meeting with Dr. Houngbo on the lessons that IFAD had learned from the CIVID-19 crisis, he said the crisis made the IFAD to be ready to change the activities in order to overcome its repercussions, especially on the rural poor. He emphasized on the importance of the domestic productions and the digital agriculture to mitigate the COVID-19 impact as many countries went on lockdown. However, he revealed that the COVID-19 crisis showed the lack of a strong resilience.
“It costs less to invest in sustainability and building long-term resilience to shocks than it does to respond to repeated humanitarian emergencies. That is why the Sustainable Development Goals exist, and this increased commitment to IFAD is an important step to delivering on them. The contributions pledged so far show our Member States are determined to eradicate poverty and hunger, and are confident in the impact of IFAD’s work,” Houngbo said.
From 2022, IFAD will implement a strengthened business model which embeds the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that IFAD’s investments help rural people to sustain progress achieved, and build back stronger and more resilient livelihoods from this and other future shocks.
“COVID-19 has been hugely tested for each one of us. Last year was truly difficult, but certainly our particular community has today come through it,” said UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy Agnes Kalibata in the conference.
It has been agreed that at least half of the funding received will support rural development projects in sub-Saharan Africa, and more than a quarter will be channelled to countries facing conflict or other fragile situations.
At least 40 per cent will be invested in addressing climate challenges, contributing to achieving the Paris Agreement and ensuring more climate finance reaches small-scale farmers. Investing in youth and rural job creation will also be a key priority.