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Putting the Environment at the Heart of Farming – Episode 20

©IFAD/Joanne Levitan

In this month’s episode, we celebrate World Environment Day. Marie Haga, AVP for IFAD, and Jo Puri, Director of IFAD’s ECG Division, talk about how IFAD balances supporting development with protecting the environment. Then, with Africa Climate Week coming up, we have the latest on innovations from East and Southern Africa. We’ll also hear the latest on a new report on nature-based solutions in agriculture.

After that, we’ll talk to Kehkashan Basu, a UN Human Rights Champion, about how the environment inspired her during her childhood. We also check in on changes to environmental policies in Afghanistan and organic farming in China, and we hear from a new group called Chefs 4 the Planet. Finally, we look at the International Day of Family Remittances, a day celebrating a vital source of funding for people living in rural communities in the developing world.

Table of Contents


Marie Haga on how the environment intersects with agricultural resilience

Marie Haga, Associate Vice-President for IFAD

This year’s World Environment Day will see the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a chance for us to refocus and reset our relationship with nature.

We spoke with Marie Haga, Associate Vice-President for IFAD, about how our efforts to restore the natural environment intersect with agriculture – especially when it comes to building resilience.


Jo Puri on working with nature

Jo Puri, Director of IFAD’s ECG Division

Ecosystem restoration can take many forms: from growing trees to greening cities, rewilding gardens, cleaning up rivers and coasts, and even changing diets. This means there’s plenty of opportunities for innovative restoration projects – but at the same time, it can be difficult, especially for groups like farmers, to work with nature instead of against it.

Our reporter Keyla Carvalho sat down with Jo Puri, Director of IFAD’s Environment, Climate, Gender and Social Inclusion Division, to discuss how IFAD is helping farmers work with nature while also improving their livelihoods.


Climate risk analyses in East and Southern Africa with Paxina Chileshe

Paxina Chileshe, Regional Climate and Environment Specialist

This month also sees the UNFCCC Africa Climate Week.

We already know that small-scale farmers and poor rural people all over the world bear the brunt of climate change and its effects. This is especially true in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, where crop failures and livestock deaths are causing economic losses and undermining food security with ever-greater frequency.

How, then, can we empower small-scale farmers to build their resilience to these circumstances?

Our reporter Linda Odhiambo spoke with Paxina Chileshe, IFAD’s Regional Climate and Environment Specialist for East and Southern Africa, to find out how IFAD-supported projects in Malawi, Mozambique and Rwanda are empowering farmers with the necessary skills and tools to undertake climate risk analysis and determine appropriate solutions for the challenges they face.


Freddie Harvey Williams on IFAD’s latest ecosystems restoration report

Ecosystems Restoration Conducted by Nature-based Solutions

As efforts like the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration pick up steam, nature-based solutions for restoring the environment and combating climate change are garnering greater attention worldwide.

In the first of a new technical report series, IFAD is sharing experiences from its Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture (ASAP) programme, including lessons from projects in Niger and Sudan. The report will be released on 2 June, in conjunction with the Global Landscapes Forum on Restoring Africa’s Drylands.

Our reporter Freddie Harvey Williams has the latest on this new publication.


The next generation of climate activism with Kehkashan Basu

Kehkashan Basu, a United Nations Human Rights Champion

All across the world, young people are speaking up about the environment and social issues – and creating their own organizations and initiatives to fight for the future they want.

Kehkashan Basu has been an environmental activist since age 8. In 2016, she was recognized as a United Nations Human Rights Champion for her continuing leadership in the fight for environmental justice and gender equality.

Our reporter Keyla Carvalho spoke with Kehkashan about what drew her to activism and what she’s been doing ever since.

Candra Samekto on managing water resources in Afghanistan


Candra Samekto, IFAD’s Country Programme Officer for Afghanistan

Efficiently managing water resources is a vital part of changing environmental policy, especially in areas that have already been significantly affected by climate change.

In southern Afghanistan, for example, a new IFAD-supported project plans to increase the capacity of the already existing Dahla Dam. These efforts are expected to improve local management of water resources and expand residents’ access to water and irrigation, all while supporting the area’s new regulations.

Candra Samekto, IFAD’s Country Programme Manager for Afghanistan, updated our reporter Keyla Carvalho on the project’s latest developments and the impacts it’s expected to have.

Chefs 4 the Planet with founder Anne Le More


Anne Le More

Chefs 4 the Planet is an international community of chefs that promotes healthy eating and climate action.

Anne Le More, one of the founders of the organization, spoke with our reporter Keyla Carvalho about the project’s main goals.

And don’t miss Recipes for Change, IFAD’s own initiative bringing together world-class chefs, sustainability, and great food.


The Beijing Farmers’ Market: A big win for organic produce

Chang Tianle of the Beijing Farmers’ Market

In 2010, organic farmers in Beijing were having a difficult time selling their products. But then the Beijing Farmers’ Market came along.

It moves from place to place, since it’s not government-supported. But the farmers who participate see the constant relocation as an opportunity to find new customers and spread the word. It’s also a great way for consumers to meet organic farmers and learn more about where their food comes from.

Our reporter Keyla Carvalho spoke with Chang Tianle, one of the market’s founding members. She reports on the positive effects the market has had for China’s small-scale farmers.


The International Day of Family Remittances with Pedro De Vasconcelos

Pedro De Vasconcelos, Coordinator for IFAD’s Financing Facility for Remittances

The International Day of Family Remittances (IDFR), observed on 16 June, recognizes the contributions of the more than 200 million migrant workers around the world.

The money they send home to their families helps as many as 800 million people in developing countries put food on the table, pay their bills, and send kids to school. At least one quarter of this money is saved or invested, too.

We spoke with IFAD’s Pedro de Vasconcelos to learn more about this year’s IDFR.


Summing Up

Thanks to our producer Francesco Manetti; our reporters Rosie Gonzalez, Keyla Carvalho, Linda Odhiambo and Freddie Williams; and everyone else who’s worked on this programme.

Remember, we want to hear from you – what you think about our stories and the issues discussed, and who you want us to be talking to – so please get in touch with us at [email protected].

Send us your voice or text messages to that address and we’ll be happy to play you out in the next show.

Also, don’t forget to subscribe to this podcast via your favourite podcast platform – and please rate us.

We’ll be back at the end of June with more news fresh from the farm. We’ll be talking all about the UN’s Food System Pre-Summit.

And once again, we’ll be trying to be Good for You, Good for the Planet and Good for the Farmers.

From Brian Thomson and the team here at IFAD – thanks for listening.