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Thank you and Vision for Second Term - Statement by Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD

17 February 2021

Mister Sastrosuwito SUMINTO, Chairperson of the Governing Council,

Distinguished Governors,

Ladies and gentlemen,

  1. I would like to sincerely thank you for the confidence you have shown by electing me for a second term as IFAD’s president.
  2. I am humbled and conscious of the task ahead that you have entrusted to me and it is an honour that I do not take lightly.
  3. Looking back, I think it is fair to say a lot has been achieved. I have also spent time reflecting on what still needs to be improved and reached, and the challenges ahead.
  4. Looking forward, my first priority will be the consolidation of the reforms made over the past four years so that IFAD’s trajectory toward doubling its impact by 2030 becomes irreversible.
  5. This consolidation will focus on three mutually reinforcing areas.
  6. First is decentralizing, including the further delegation of decision-making authority. My goal is to reach 45 per cent of staff based in the field by 2025.
  7. Secondly, we will continue with our financial reforms and innovations, which will help maximize the leveraging of core contributions. In turn, this will enable us to continue broadening our resource base and fill the existing financing gap. This shall be IFAD’s contribution to the wider development challenge to deliver on Agenda 2030.
  8. Lastly, complementing our replenishment funds, are the two dedicated investment programs – ASAP+ and Private Sector Financing programs. Taken together, these will channel additional financing to the most vulnerable countries to address two of the world’s biggest development challenges, namely: adapting to the climate crisis as well as provide much-needed entrepreneurial opportunities for youth on and off-farm to bring about a new and more sustainable, socially-responsible global food system. 
  9. These three areas of focus shall be taken alongside ongoing efforts to improve:
    1. the quality of our projects (drawing on recommendations from the Independent Office of Evaluation),
    2. the focus of our four mainstreaming thematic areas, and include work on biodiversity, indigenous peoples, and persons with disabilities,
    3. Building better resilience at both the farm and systemic level, including through innovative digital agriculture solutions.

Distinguished Governors,

  1. With the pandemic still raging, and the projections for increased poverty and hunger, the need for IFAD to scale up is even more urgent.
  2. Today it is COVID, but the threat from climate change and extreme weather has not diminished. No rural woman or man should ever be in a position of having to sell his or her meagre assets – or migrate -- to survive.
  3. Finally, let me stress the importance for us to continue to work on managerial excellence, namely:
    1. addressing workload and improving work-life balance, particularly in this pandemic context;
    2. enhancing measures to incentivise strong performers, and continue to aim for gender parity and geographic balance at all levels;
    3. continuing to enforce ethical behaviour of all staff, here at HQ as well as in the field offices. This includes doing more to prevent and address all forms of discrimination, and a zero tolerance for sexual harassment and sexual exploitation.

Ladies and gentlemen,

  1. IFAD is evolving in the right direction. Our mission is not limited to fighting against food insecurity and poverty; it calls for a fundamental and structural transformation of rural economies for a fairer, more equitable and just world – for the benefit of all humanity.
  2. Unavoidably, the issue of the financing gap will remain an important point of discussion. I will be engaging with you individually and collectively to deeply reflect on the best ways to leverage our core resources, tapping increasingly on private capital while remaining focused on the poorest.  
  3. Once again, I am very humbled by this gesture of your trust in me to lead this institution.
  4. Thank you.

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