France’s President Emmanuel Macron announced that his government will increase the funds it sends to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) by 50% during the One Planet Summit on Biodiversity on Monday.
The pledge will help IFAD support smallholder farmers through the overlapping crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and economic recessions, while also setting them up for future prosperity and creating jobs for youth. IFAD provides farmers with grants and loans, technical assistance, equipment, and entrepreneurial guidance, while also improving market access, supply chains, and domestic food systems.
IFAD’s work has become increasingly urgent over the past year. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted economic sectors, deepened poverty, and shifted international funding priorities, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. IFAD focuses on the people most likely to be harmed by these impacts: those living in poverty. The vast majority of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas and work in agriculture. They produce 50% of the world’s calories on just 30% of agricultural land, yet millions struggled to feed themselves and their families even before the pandemic. IFAD launched a $200 million fund last year to help farmers overcome the crisis and emerge stronger in the aftermath.
France’s pledge will go toward IFAD’s replenishment, meaning it will help fund the organization’s next slate of projects in 2022. In recent months, 25 other countries including Japan, the Netherlands, and Sierra Leone have pledged to increase their contributions to IFAD’s replenishment. Following France's commitment, a 50% increase in funding could become the standard for other countries.
Climate change, biodiversity and food are all correlated. Agriculture is key. That’s why at the #OnePlanetSummit we have a series of initiatives. On @IFAD, we will increase our commitment by 50%. I have no doubt that our partners will follow. Sabrina and Idris, I am in! https://t.co/7SD0D1lt7r— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron) January 11, 2021
Macron’s announcement came after a meeting with Global Citizen and IFAD ambassadors Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre Elba, during which Macron outlined his plans to support youth across Africa in their fight to save biodiversity and take greater control of development projects, according to the Guardian.
Macron said that he plans to invite youth instead of heads of state to the annual Afrique-France summit in July.
“A lot of countries have this kind of summit … post-COVID we thought about how to completely change this summit, build something new,” Macron said in the meeting. “Maybe it will fail, we decided to build a new summit. There will be absolutely no African leader invited, we will just invite young people from everywhere in Africa involved in agriculture, civil society, business, culture, sports ... coming from Africa and saying what they want for Africa.
“They will decide what they want,” he added.
The Elbas became IFAD ambassadors in April 2020, a few months after going on a fact-finding mission with IFAD and Global Citizen to Sierra Leone. Since then, the Elbas have called on countries to increase their commitments to IFAD.
“We are delighted that President Macron has joined many countries, including those from Africa, who have increased their pledges to IFAD, and we hope other leaders and countries will follow their lead,” the Elbas said following the announcement. “At a time when every country is experiencing hardship from the pandemic, we need more than ever the political vision to tackle our interlinked climate, health and economic emergencies. Investing in sustainable agriculture and rural areas not only creates economic opportunities for a better and more equal future, but can also help safeguard our planet.“
The One Planet Summit on Biodiversity featured major sustainability wins as world leaders mapped out post-COVID-19 recovery plans.
“Pandemic recovery is our chance to change course,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres said at the event. “With smart policies and the right investments, we can chart a path that brings health to all, revives economies and builds resilience and rescues biodiversity.”
IFAD, along with the Green Climate Fund, announced the Great Green Wall Accelerator to support the world’s largest reforestation and ecosystem restoration project known as the Great Green Wall. The accelerator will mobilize $10 billion for local and regional projects supporting the Great Green Wall, but it’s currently unclear where these funds will come from and how they will be used. It’s crucial in the months and years ahead that the accelerator document and share with the public relevant financial information.
Prince Charles unveiled the Terra Carta, a charter to conserve planet Earth that aims to raise $10 billion from the private sector over the next 10 years.
“Today, I am making an urgent appeal to leaders, from all sectors and from around the world, to join us in this endeavor, and to give their support to this ‘Terra Carta’ — to bring prosperity into harmony with nature, people, and planet over the coming decade,” Prince Charles said.
France, alongside the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, announced PREZODE, a new, intersectional collaboration between scientific researchers and health researchers to stop future pandemics by preventing the emergence of new zoonotic diseases.
Fifty countries, meanwhile, pledged to protect 30% of the land and sea from human activities by 2030, which would double the land areas under protection and more than quadruple the marine spaces under protection, according to the United Nations.
The countries that committed to this conservation target will seek to get other countries on board during environmental conferences over the course of the year.
“Protecting 30% of the planet will undoubtedly improve the quality of life of our citizens, and help us achieve a fair, decarbonised and resilient society. Healing and restoring nature is a key step towards human wellbeing, creating millions of quality green and blue jobs and fulfilling the 2030 agenda, particularly as part of our sustainable recovery efforts,” said Andrea Meza, Costa Rican minister of environment and energy, according to the Guardian.
“We have a moral and pragmatic imperative to come together, to take strong decisions that will get us one step closer to halting biodiversity loss and achieving the Paris agreement goals,” she added.