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World Food Forum 2023 - Hand in Hand Investment Forum

Statements by IFAD President Alvaro Lario

Où: FAO HQ, Rome, Italy

17 octobre 2023

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Excellencies, distinguished representatives, ladies and gentlemen,

I’m eager to take part in this second Hand-in-Hand Investment Forum.

As the world’s second largest multilateral investor in food and agriculture after the World Bank, at IFAD we know how critical the situation is for the world’s small-scale farmers and other rural people.

And if it’s critical for them, it’s critical for all of us. Because small farms of 5 hectares or less produce almost half the world’s food. If they fail, we all fail, with consequences for future generations.

Rural people are also disproportionately affected by poverty and hunger. In 2022, 900 million people in the world suffered extreme food insecurity. One-third of the world’s rural people suffered moderate or severe food insecurity during the year, compared to around one quarter in urban areas.

And remember that 80 per cent of those living in extreme poverty are in rural areas.

IFAD’s mission is to address the root causes of poverty and food insecurity. We invest in improving food production, food systems, and nutritional levels in the poorest communities.

We know that we can leverage the power of smallholders and other rural people to contribute to global food security because this is what we have seen over the past five decades. But they have an equally critical role in protecting the environment and building global resilience.

Rural people are custodians of vast natural resources, not to mention possessors of indigenous knowledge. Investing in  them can both feed rural and urban populations and safeguard the natural environment.

Small farms, on average, have higher yields and harbour greater crop and non-crop biodiversity than larger farms. They offer solutions for sustainably producing enough food to feed the world.

They also support healthy ecosystems, which can help address global issues ranging from protecting against the effects of climate change to sequestering carbon.

That’s why we need to invest more in small farms -- and in the rural businesses they work with to produce, process and distribute food.

Since 1978, we have invested over US$24 billion to fund projects in developing countries. But we can’t do it alone. This is why we also support large-scale investment platforms to assemble investment from others.

These include blended finance structures. And we use our AA+ credit rating to implement innovative funding models, bringing in the private sector and untapped sources of finance.

In IFAD13 — our latest replenishment — we are aiming to deliver a programme of work of US$ 10 billion. This will enable us to double our impact, and significantly improve the lives of 100 million rural people.

During IFAD13, we will intensify support to climate-resilient agriculture, environmental sustainability and biodiversity management. We will do even more to harness the clout of the private sector, including through several innovative green finance partnerships. And at least 30 per cent of our climate finance will be dedicated to nature-based solutions.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The work of rural people is central to feeding the world – today and tomorrow. We welcome discussions on how to mobilize greater financing and partnerships to address the nexus of food security and environmental sustainability, focusing on those most in need.

Thank you.