After being appointed for his second 4-year term, Houngbo assured that IFAD will continue to tackle hunger and poverty, and address the devastating impact of climate change, youth unemployment and Covid-19

Gilbert F Houngbo, president of International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) since 2017, has been reappointed in the capacity by member states for the next four years .

The announcement was made virtually, due to the global pandemic, at the 44th IFAD annual Governing Council meeting at Rome of Italy on Wednesday.

After being appointed for his second 4-year term, Houngbo presented his ambitious agenda with a particular focus on technological solutions, innovative financing models and new private sector partnerships.

The 44th session of the Governing Council was a two-day meeting with the theme: “Rural development – a prerequisite for global resilience.”

At the session, Houngbo assured that IFAD will continue to tackle hunger and poverty, and will address the devastating impact of climate change, youth unemployment and most recently Covid-19, leading on the ground to ensure no one is left behind.

“IFAD has to grow. We have to transform IFAD to transform rural areas. With the pandemic still devastating rural areas and increased projections in poverty and hunger, the need for IFAD to scale up is more urgent than ever,” he said.

The IFAD president also urged international organizations and government partners to rethink the nature of food systems that often lead to greater inequalities, poverty and hunger.

“My conviction remains intact. We can achieve a more fair and equitable world, a world without abject poverty, a world without hunger. But the pandemic and the effects of climate change are forcing us to radically rethink the way we produce [food] and eat,” he added.

“Today it is Covid, yesterday it was a tsunami, and we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. The threat from climate change and extreme weather will not diminish, and we should prepare. No rural woman or man should ever be in a position of having to sell his or her meagre assets – or be forced to migrate – in order to survive,” he told the world leaders.

Meanwhile, world leaders called for greater international cooperation to tackle hunger and poverty and increased private investment from the 44th session of the Governing Council at IFAD.

Highlighting the long-term and profound economic damage the pandemic is now having in low-income countries, they added that fighting growing global hunger and poverty needs to be addressed for the rural people who grow so much of the world’s food, but often are the poorest and hungriest.

Announcing a significantly increased financial commitment to IFAD of €84 million for its work over the next three years, Italy’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Luigi Di Maio said: “guaranteeing the right to food is a moral imperative.”

“We need adequate and sufficient resources to intervene on the ground, to invest in rural economies, food security, access to food and sustainable production cycles,” he added.

Angola President João Lourenço told the session that reducing food imports and securing a sustainable, locally-produced food supply for a country like oil-dependent Angola is critical, and can only be done by revitalizing and developing local agricultural production. This includes rehabilitating access to roads and ensuring water supply in rural areas. 

One in 10 people in the world are hungry. An additional 132 million people may also go hungry due to the socio-economic impacts of the pandemic. As many as 150 million people could fall into extreme poverty by 2021, and it is likely to increase for the first time in decades. The huge financing gap threatens the world’s ability to deliver on the sustainable development goal of zero hunger by 2030, informed Houngbao.

In this regard, he called on the new private sector to invest and donors to contribute significantly more to IFAD, to deliver an overall program worth at least US$11 billion from 2022 to 2024.

Under Houngbo’s continued leadership, IFAD aims to double its impact by 2030 and offer a life outside of poverty and hunger to millions. The goal is to ensure that 40 million people increase their incomes by at least 20% every year by 2030, which is double what IFAD currently achieves. 

IFAD expanded its program of work to reach 36% more poor and vulnerable people. At the end of 2019, 132 million people in more than 90 countries benefited from IFAD’s investments.

Another significant goal addressed in the session goal is to rectify the major challenges young people face in finding decent employment in rural areas, which in turn have an enormous impact on instability and migration.

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