40 Years of IFAD-China Cooperation: Celebrating the past, envisioning the future, remarks by Gilbert Houngbo, President of IFAD
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40 Years of IFAD-China Cooperation: Celebrating the past, envisioning the future - Remarks by Gilbert Houngbo, President of IFAD14 junio 2022
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We are here today to celebrate an important milestone in the cooperation between the International Fund for Agricultural Development, or IFAD, and the People’s Republic of China.
On 15 January 1980, China joined IFAD. One year later, IFAD was the first International Financial Institution to lend to China, with a US$35 million loan to finance the Northern Pasture and Livestock Development Project in three northern provinces.
Forty years later, we are here today to celebrate four decades of cooperation.
During these years, IFAD has accompanied China on its journey to address food insecurity, eliminate extreme rural poverty, and develop rural areas. IFAD has not only provided financial resources and expertise, but also introduced innovations and best practices.
IFAD is often referred as one of the agencies that introduced a more participatory processes to rural development in the 1990s. With the Rural Finance Sector Program, it contributed to the Rural Credit Cooperatives reform in early 2000. In partnership with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and the World Food Program, it introduced the first weather index-based insurance product in China in 2011.
And recently, through the latest generation of projects, it improved the chanyie fupin models, strengthening the capacity of cooperatives to include poor rural households and smallholder farmers into the agriculture industrialization process.
Many technical innovations introduced by IFAD through its projects in China have been adopted by other countries. For example, successful biogas digester technology for rural households introduced in partnership with the government in China’s Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in early 2000 were later replicated in several African countries through IFAD-funded projects.
For forty years, we have worked together in the most poor and remote areas of the country. Our projects contributed to building new roads to connect remote villages, to rehabilitating irrigation systems, and improving land management. They supported greater agriculture productivity by introducing more efficient agricultural technologies and improving the Government’s extension services.
Together, we have helped poor smallholders have greater access to finance and better links to markets. We are ensuring that modern food value chains do not exclude poor rural farmers, and have established ‘pro-poor’ public-private partnerships. And our work promotes more environmentally sustainable agricultural practices and increased resilience to climate change.
Our partnership with China has resulted in the improvement of the lives and livelihoods of more than 20 million men and women in poor and remote areas of China. Rigorous impact assessments have confirmed that these projects had a positive impact on development, including household income and assets, agriculture productivity and food security, and the empowerment of women and other vulnerable groups.
IFAD has greatly benefited from its partnership with China. China is not only one of largest recipients of IFAD resources: China has progressively become one of the largest contributors to IFAD replenishments. Today, China is one of the most active members of our Executive Board; a strong supporter of IFAD’s ambitious reform agenda – including decentralization and the possibility for IFAD to borrow resources; and a champion of South-South Cooperation.
China was instrumental in the establishment of the first Facility to support South-South and Triangular Cooperation in IFAD. With the generous contribution of the China government, the Facility seeks to mobilize expertise, knowledge and resources from the Global South – including China – to reduce poverty and enhance the livelihoods of poor people in other developing countries.
However, as we look back to celebrate the achievements of 40 years, we must take this opportunity to also look at the future of our partnership.
Ending extreme rural poverty is a remarkable achievement, but – as President Xi Jinping has said – this is just one step towards China’s long-term goal of building a modern society by the middle of the 21st century. Some of the challenges China will face in the coming years include preventing those lifted out of poverty from falling back into poverty; safeguarding the most vulnerable; addressing inequalities – especially between rural and urban areas; revitalizing rural areas and achieving carbon neutrality.
IFAD stands ready to partner with China in addressing these challenges, as well as contributing to accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals globally – just as it has done in China’s fight against rural poverty over the past 40 years.
The forms and modalities of cooperation will evolve and adapt to the changing context, but IFAD’s commitment to China holds firm.
In the years ahead, the focus of our cooperation will increasingly be around strategic engagement, dialogue, partnerships, global advocacy, knowledge sharing and south-south cooperation, and contributing to the global development agenda.
Let us celebrate 40 years of successful cooperation and look forward what the next four decades of partnership will bring.