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President's Hearing to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Italian Parliament

18 November 2020

Rome, 18 November 2020 - As part of a fact-finding survey on Italy's international action to implement the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development and its effectiveness of the national regulatory framework and the Italian cooperation system, Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD was invited to hold a hearing to the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Italian Parliament on 18 November.

“Italy has been a special partner for IFAD since our foundation. It has been a generous host, but more than that, Italy and IFAD recognize the importance of small-scale farming and share a commitment to fighting poverty and hunger through sustainable, inclusive and fair rural and agricultural development”, said Houngbo in his opening remarks.

The President of the Commission, Mr Fassino, gave particular emphasis on the synergies between the Fund’s core mandate and Italy’s priorities in the international development cooperation arena, who commended IFAD’s key strategic role “in addressing the two main action pillars of the next decade around fighting hunger and climate change”.

Building resilience to climate impacts is one of IFAD’s top priorities. In fact, the introduction of The Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP+) is key to take the current climate approach further by increasing the focus on mitigation and resilience, and addressing the interlinkages between climate, fragility, nutrition and social inclusion.

Climate change is not the only challenging that humanity is facing. Various parliamentarians also raised the concern that the COVID-19 crisis is being put forward as a “challenge in the fight against food security”, said Ms Quartapelle. The Fund has also been a leader in supporting investments to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic. On this regard, President Houngbo highlighted that IFAD has “launched a Rural Poor Stimulus Facility, a multi-donor facility as an immediate response to the current crisis that feeds into IFAD’s long-term development objectives and financing instruments”. In its first two months, IFAD approved $30 million for 41 projects that respond directly to the COVID emergency. The proposals approved so far are expected to reach around 1.5 million beneficiaries. Half of this financing has gone to Lower Income Countries and just under half has gone to countries in fragile situations.

Unlike FAO or WFP, IFAD is a financial institution, which provides concessional sovereign loans to borrowing countries that benefit rural communities. Very recently, IFAD was recognized as the first fund in the United Nations system to receive a  AA+ public credit rating, by Fitch Ratings.

The Commission recognized full support to IFAD’s strategic mandate. In his closing remarks, President Houngbo expressed his gratitude to the Committee and signalled that “IFAD stands ready to support Italy’s on its G20 presidency and COP26 to improve food systems and create a world where no one is left behind”.

Watch the Hearing | Read the President's statement

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