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Together, public and private funding can end poverty and hunger

By Nibal Zgheib

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Together, public and private funding can end poverty and hunger

Public funding alone is not enough to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and development and international financing institutions must collaborate more strategically to leverage private investments. That is the message from today’s Global Forum that has brought together over 200 investors, business leaders, representatives from multilateral development institutions, and policy-makers and government officials from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.

The Forum is supported by the European Union and organised by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

FAO estimates that incremental resources of up to US$ 265 billion a year are needed to end poverty and hunger by 2030. This is 0.3 percent of the average projected world income for the period.

“With the 2030 deadline approaching fast, development and international financial institutions must work together with the private sector to find durable solutions to major development challenges such as poverty, climate change and migration. That means creating environments where innovation can flourish and where private investors have incentives to contribute to inclusive economic growth and environmental sustainability,” said EBRD’s President Sir Suma Chakrabarti.

Food and agriculture systems face daunting challenges – from having to produce more with less to feed a growing planet, to shrinking the sector’s carbon footprint, to creating decent employment opportunities, especially for youth in developing countries.

“FAO is custodian of 21 of the SDG’s indicators, and can play a key role in helping the private sector to shape and monitor their contributions to these sustainability goals. We are also committed to promoting more enabling environments for private investment in sustainable agrifood systems, while also making sure those finances reach where they are needed most,” FAO’s Deputy Director-General Daniel Gustafson said. 

“One encouraging trend – already visible in the agriculture sector – is impact investing, in which private investors are investing in initiatives that generate profits as well as social and environmental impacts,” Gustafson added.

"Investing in high-value value chains and quality improvement will further strengthen the competiveness of Moroccan agribusiness in global markets. The EU is happy being a partner in this endeavour. Today's event is an example of the EU's support to the Moroccan private sector, notably through investment facilities such as those implemented by the EBRD.  It equally provides opportunities for additional social and environmental benefits in the agribusiness ecosystem", said Claudia Wiedey, EU Ambassador to Morocco.

According to a survey by the Global Impact Investment Network, the world’s leading impact investors collectively manage over USD 228 billion in impact assets. That is more than the amount of public funding available in 2017 through official development assistance.

Digital transformation

The Forum also made a strong case for greater investment in innovation. Digital technologies, are transforming every sector of the global economy, including agriculture.
New technologies are improving agricultural productivity, lowering carbon emissions and making better use of the earth’s natural resources. They are also making information more accessible to small-scale producers across the globe.

While the private sector is largely driving the development of such technologies, the public sector can help facilitate their adoption and keep an eye on technologies that have the power to bring positive outcomes, especially to small-scale farmers and small-to-medium enterprises. That means understanding the different technologies – and obstacles hindering their uptake, especially by small-scale producers – and identifying the necessary policies, regulations, incentive frameworks and capacity development.

Other discussions at the Forum focused on the private sector’s views on investing in emerging markets and managing risks in value chain financing, and on the importance of making agrifood systems greener as well as more inclusive, especially for women and youth

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