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Sustainable Development Forum 2021 (China) People-centred Sustainable Development

26 September 2021

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Nowhere is the challenge of leaving no one behind more salient than in rural areas: This is where about three-quarters of the world’s poorest and most food-insecure people live. Extreme poverty rates in rural areas are three times higher than those in urban settings.

Yet, these are the very people who produce more than 30 per cent of all food calories we consume on only 11 per cent of all farm land, and thus they remain key actors in our food system[1].

But our food systems – the way we produce, harvest, process, transport and consume food – are not sustainable with nearly 30 per cent of the world’s agricultural land producing food that is ultimately never consumed, while food systems are responsible for over 30% of greenhouse gas emissions[2].

Additionally, small-scale farmers and poor rural people bear the brunt of climate change and the degradation of natural resources. Extreme weather events, such as droughts, storms and floods, are putting pressure on the ecosystems that farmers depend on.

Crop failures and livestock deaths are causing economic losses and undermining the food security of rural people. At the same time, the rapidly growing global population demands higher levels of food production. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the situation.

More than ever, inclusive and sustainable rural transformation and investing in small scale farmers and their communities, should remain central to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

That is why through its investments and policy engagements, IFAD focuses on the most vulnerable populations, and on the most environmentally sustainable solutions, fostering inclusive, diversified and productive rural economies that create opportunities for decent work and higher incomes. We put rural people at the centre of all we do.

China has been at the forefront of efforts to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. China was the first developing country to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of a 50 per cent reduction in extreme poverty and hunger.

Last year marked the 40th anniversary of IFAD’s partnership with China. IFAD projects in China are empowering rural people focusing on rural farmers and revitalizing rural areas will remain crucial to the success of the 2030 Agenda and in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

My call is for all of us to keep the small-scale farmers at the centre of national pathways.

Thank you.


[1] RDR 2021

[2] FAO March 2021