IFAD Asset Request Portlet

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Statement by Gilbert F. Houngbo President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) at the ACP Special Committee for Ambassadors

Location: Brussels, Belgium

05 March 2018

Mister Secretary General,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to begin by thanking you for this opportunity to speak with members of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States. The last time that we met was prior to my election as IFAD President, and I appreciate the support that I received from ACP members at that time.

Since I assumed office last April, IFAD has embarked on a range of strategic measures to expand its operations, increase impact, improve efficiency and explore new modes of resource mobilization. The development landscape is changing, and challenging times demand a bold vision backed by pragmatic, evidence-based decision-making.

To achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda and to pursue development that leaves no one behind, business-as-usual will not suffice. In 2016 the number of hungry people in the world grew after consecutive years of decline—and it grew not only in low-income countries, but in 17 upper middle-income countries, in large-population countries and small island developing states. Recent studies have shown that climate change is advancing far more rapidly than was thought. And today, 21 per cent of the world’s population lives in situations of fragility.

The rural areas of developing countries where IFAD invests are hardest hit by these crises, and least able to cope with economic and environmental shocks. Hunger and poverty are predominantly rural, and IFAD has a comparative advantage in working in these remote and under-resourced areas.  

The countries of the ACP are also IFAD Member States. We share common development priorities, and there is also an alignment between the strategic approaches that we have adopted.

We are now working directly together to create an impact investment fund for smallholder farmers and rural small and medium enterprises, now known as the SIF fund[b.murphy1] , which will provide a channel for partners to direct financing toward priority target groups, including rural youth.

We appreciate the EU-ACP interest in contributing to this initiative, and look forward to the decision of the ACP Subcommittee on Private Investment in mid-March and the review by the EU on 23 March.  If approved we would be launching the SIF towards  the end of 2018.  

Last month, IFAD successfully concluded the consultation process for its Eleventh Replenishment period, IFAD11. Members agreed to a 10 per cent increase that will allow us to pursue a programme of loans and grants of $3.5 billion during the period 2019-2021. We received strong support from countries of the European Union, many of which maintained or increased their level of support to IFAD. Some 24 ACP member countries have already pledged for IFAD11. We encourage all 79 ACP members to contribute to IFAD, which would be a strong signal of support.

During IFAD11 we will prioritize the poorest countries and the poorest people, with 90 per cent of core resources going to low-income and lower-middle income countries. Half of our resources will be devoted to Africa. And 25 to 30 per cent of our investments will be in fragile situations.

We are also expanding decentralization in order to improve delivery by shortening the time needed for design and implementation of projects and accelerating disbursements. Already, in 2017 disbursements rose by 14.5 per cent over 2016.

Moving closer to borrowing countries will also enable us to enhance policy dialogue and non-lending support, including through South-South and triangular cooperation.

Our support for SSTC encompasses both knowledge and finance. We are working with the Government of China to establish an SSTC funding facility, and will also open three SSTC and knowledge centres in the regions where we work. A new Rural Solutions Portal will facilitate sharing of successful innovations.

Our new business model stresses not only doing more, but doing it better. We will be mainstreaming the four key areas of gender, climate change, nutrition, and youth employment, but with an integrated approach. We will focus on developing transformative approaches that capitalize on the interrelations among these four areas.

Youth employment is a particular challenge, especially in Africa, where 10 to 12 million young people enter the job market every year. Faced with lack of jobs, they often migrate to urban areas or abroad, where they face an uncertain future. The SIF will have a particular focus on youth, and will include a Technical Assistance Facility to help them build skills and succeed as entrepreneurs.

We will also be extending our Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) into a second phase. Already the world’s largest climate change adaptation programme that focuses on smallholder farmers, ASAP2, will help leverage IFAD investments to incentivize greater cofinancing for climate change adaptation. As you are aware – especially in the Pacific  and Caribbean  regions - the impact of climate change  is a major threat to the survival and future livelihoods of your people.

In this context, IFAD is sharpening its focus on Small Island Development States. We have a long experience working in these countries. IFAD has financed 90 projects in 24 SIDS for over US$582 million. These have aimed to improve smallholders’ livelihoods and access to markets and financial services, create jobs and increase resilience to climate change. IFAD has five ongoing investment projects in the Pacific Islands, and six in the Caribbean, as well as regional grants.

Overall, the IFAD portfolio supports 106 ongoing projects in ACP countries, with 93 in Africa.

The work of IFAD and of the ACP in supporting sustainable development, including for some of the most marginalized areas and vulnerable communities of the world, shows that multilateral partnerships are key to solving some of the world’s most urgent problems.

With the Cotonou Agreement expiring in 2020, and negotiations due to begin on the shape of post-Cotonou, this is a particularly important moment. I would be interested in hearing from you how you see the partnership of IFAD and the ACP going forward, and how we can achieve synergies that maximize the impact of our development efforts. 

IFAD is committed to enhancing its support to Member countries to deliver on the Agenda 2030 and the SDGs. We are also fully in line with the UN reform agenda, and are taking the necessary steps to ensure that IFAD is fit for purpose and can deliver bigger, better and smarter.

Once again, let me say that I appreciate this opportunity and I look forward to discussing how we can deepen our partnership in order to successfully meet the development challenges that lie ahead.

Thank you.