To transform our food systems we must reimagine how they are financed, says IFAD President

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Rome, 24 September 2021 – To transform our food systems to end global hunger and be sustainable in a changing world, we must first reimagine how they are financed, said the President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to world leaders attending the UN Food Systems Summit, which ends today.

“The Secretary-General called for this summit two years ago in recognition of how far the world was from achieving zero hunger, and amid rising climate change impacts and worsening food insecurity,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD. “Moving forward, success will depend on many things, and resources and bridging financing gaps is a major one.”

About 3 billion people worldwide cannot afford healthy diets and the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed up to 115 million people into extreme poverty. The most vulnerable of these are rural people in developing countries, who are also critical contributors to our food systems. Achieving the global commitment to eradicate hunger under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development requires a radical rethinking of how they are supported.

“Success will depend on making these transformations inclusive, especially for those who grow, process and distribute our food. Food systems have to work for the people who work in them,” said Houngbo. “We need to put forward new financing mechanisms to scale up resources at country level to support the national pathways.”

Houngbo called on governments and public and private financial organizations to break out of their silos and innovate to increase the resources available to countries to support their national development pathways.

Countries must develop plans to support rural producers and build sustainable food systems within their individual contexts, linking local needs to national development pathways and international coordination, while fearlessly developing financing systems that accommodate changing global realities.

While most rural people in developing countries earn their incomes from agriculture, they are generally cut off from affordable financing that would help them to introduce new crops and innovative techniques to build their livelihoods and adapt to a changing world. An IFAD-supported study in four African countries found that even when loan products are available, in reality these tend to be inaccessible to small-scale farmers.

Following the Summit, IFAD will co-lead the Decent Wages and Living Income coalition with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the support of CARE, to advance this important element of food systems transformation.

IFAD is also leading an initiative to unlock the potential of public development banks across the world to address the lack of access to finance for rural producers, while helping to shift investments to fairer and more environmentally sustainable systems. This will be a key focus of the Second Edition of the Finance in Common Summit to be held in Rome on 19–20 October, hosted by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), the Italian National Promotional Institution and Financial Institution for Development Cooperation, in partnership with IFAD.

Press release No.: IFAD/60/2021

IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$23.2 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached an estimated 518 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a United Nations specialized agency based in Rome – the United Nations food and agriculture hub.

A wide range of photographs of IFAD’s work in rural communities are available for download from its Image Bank.

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