IFAD 42nd Governing Council meeting

Innovation, Finance, Partnerships: IFAD’s Member State event closes with a push for progress and greater impact

Pope Francis addresses the opening ceremony of the 42nd annual Governing Council meeting of the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Rome, 15 February 2019 – The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) ended its 42nd Governing Council meeting today by highlighting the need for more innovative approaches to financing development – particularly in rural areas of developing countries where the majority of the world’s poorest people live.

“The demand for financing from smallholder farmers is immense − estimated at US$200 billion in sub-Saharan Africa, South and South-East Asia, and Latin America,” IFAD President Gilbert F. Houngbo said in his remarks at the launch of an impact fund aimed at attracting much-needed capital to the rural areas of developing countries.

The Agri-Business Capital (ABC) Fund was launched with partners including the European Union, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), the government of Luxembourg and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

The launch fit well into this year’s Governing Council theme – “Rural Innovation and Entrepreneurship” – which explored how investing in technology, innovation and small enterprise development can address the challenges of poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries.

In his opening remarks during the first day of the annual meeting, Houngbo said that while IFAD’s mission “remains a guiding light in a rapidly changing world,” there must be adjustment if we are to meet the needs of the most marginalized people. “Innovation remains essential for IFAD to continue to invest in rural people and their communities, and to do its part to end poverty and hunger,” he added.

Over the course of the two-day meeting, world leaders, celebrities, international policymakers, representatives of indigenous peoples and government ministers, discussed innovative approaches and how to galvanize access to finance and technology for rural people in developing countries.

In her presentation about the recently launched EAT-Lancet Commission report, Gunhild Stordalen, Executive Chair of the EAT Foundation, spoke about a need for innovation in partnerships.

“Everyone needs to be invited to the table,” Stordalen said. “We need new ways to ensure rural people are included and empowered, and allow them to share their knowledge and to take part in new business opportunities such as giving them access to finance and capital as well as to fair markets. I am happy to see how IFAD is taking the lead to address this agenda and bringing forward solutions to make this happen.”

In addition to lively and interactive discussions and presentations, the Governing Council welcomed Poland as its newest member. The membership takes effect immediately, bringing the total number of IFAD Member States to 177.

IFAD President Houngbo concluded the day by reminding the audience that “IFAD’s goal is to invest in poor rural women and men to end poverty and hunger. We will not waver in our mission, though we must have the same courage to innovate that our many panellists and speakers have shown.”

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