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Financing for nutrition: Leveraging the pivotal role of Public Development Banks, Nutrition for Growth Side event - Welcoming Remarks by Gilbert Houngbo, President of IFAD

17 December 2021

Excellencies, Dear Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Let me start by expressing my sincere thanks to the Honourable Minister Harjit S. Sajjan for his announcement of Canada’s decision to increase its contribution to IFAD. This generosity will make a tangible difference to the lives of rural women and men by helping IFAD double its impact in rural areas and bring the world a step closer to ending extreme poverty and hunger. Canada has long been a partner in development with IFAD and a strong ally in our work to end malnutrition.

Today’s topic for discussion is critical to meeting our second Sustainable Development Goal commitment of reaching zero hunger by 2030.

As you may all know, the world is not on track to achieve targets for any nutrition indicators by 2030. One in every nine people in the world is hungry and that almost a quarter of all children under age 5 are stunted while, at the same time, the rate of overweight and obesity is rapidly increasing around the world.

Why does this situation persist?  Let me try to answer in one word: it is simply inequality.  New analysis shows that global the most vulnerable groups are most affected – and that a full three-billion adults and children remain locked out of healthy diets, largely because they cannot afford to eat well.

To solve the global nutrition conundrum, we must look to the rural areas which are home to three quarters of the world’s poorest and most of the under-nourished people. Most depend on small-scale agriculture and related activities for their food and livelihoods. Investment in nutrition-sensitive agriculture and in food systems that include and respond to the needs of smallholder producers is critical.

At IFAD, we have renewed our Nutrition for Growth (N4G) commitments to integrate nutrition in our investments. And we are committed to stepping up our impact by 2025. But we are just one part of the global solution. An estimated $39 to $50 billion a year in nutrition-sensitive financing is needed until 2030 so to meet SDG 2 targets.

Public Development Banks can help make this happen. They have the resource base, the right business model and the financial power to be a game changer. With their development mandate and proximity to public policy and governance institutions, PDBs are well positioned to catalyse change across financial ecosystems.

The newly established Public Development Bank Platform - established with the Agence Française de Développement, Cassa Depositi e Prestiti and IFAD – that platform can play a role in accelerating learning and innovation, while also mobilizing capital for small-scale agriculture and small rural enterprises. At IFAD, we are ready.

Ladies and gentlemen, we can and we must create a world where no human being suffers the indignity of inadequate nutrition. Working together, I know we can make this a reality.