Sir Suma Chakrabarti, EBRD President
Four Seasons Resort, Marrakech, Morocco
Thank you very much Minister Akhannouch for those warm opening remarks.
On behalf of the EBRD, let me welcome you all to this Global Forum in beautiful Marrakech.
Our focus here today is enabling sustainable and responsible investments by the private sector in the food and agriculture sector.
I will explain the context for this and the challenges we all face in a moment.
But first I want to stress the importance of leadership in this field.
We look to you, our guests today, to provide some of that leadership.
And, together with our partners, EBRD, aims to lead as well.
Let me also say a few words about our co-host, the Food and Agriculture Organisation ,FAO, and our relationship with them.
Together, we have made a major difference – and had major impact – in transforming the agribusiness sector in many countries, both through investment and work on policy reform.
We have been partners for more than 20 years and complement each other perfectly.
On the one hand we have in FAO a post-Second World War institution mandated to eradicate hunger, improve nutrition, boost agricultural productivity, raise the standard of living of rural populations and contribute to global economic growth.
On the other, there is the EBRD, set up at the end of the Cold War and dedicated to developing open and sustainable market economies and promoting private enterprise.
Let me also hail the European Union, which is also supporting today’s forum and is as well a very important partner of the EBRD’s, for its leadership in this area.
I also very much welcome the presence of IFAD and the other multilateral development banks. The first time we have brought all these institutions together with the private sector and policy makers in the food and agriculture sector.
Ladies and gentlemen, food and its cultivation are absolutely fundamental to who we are.
This is as true today as it was at the dawn of civilisation, over 10,000 years ago.
Not only does food provide nutrition for us all.
Its cultivation and production guarantee jobs and income for more than a billion people worldwide.
And yet, as you all know, the sector is facing increasing challenges.
Population growth and higher incomes are predicted to generate a 50 per cent rise in the demand for food by 2050.
Dietary and consumption patterns are changing.
Protein consumption is increasing.
And we will need to do a much better job of managing the stock of finite natural resources if we are to handle the sector’s impact on the environment, the climate and people who depend on it.
Part of our response to these challenges is our new Agribusiness Strategy, which will take effect next year and continue into 2023.
It acknowledges that the food production of the future requires an approach which is responsible, innovative and sustainable.
And it highlights the need for balance in order to meet three competing needs.
The first need is to close the food gap to provide everybody with the food they need - and doing so efficiently.
The second is to preserve natural resources.
And the third need is to work on improving the sector’s social and environmental impact.
We know from experience that EBRD finance, coupled with technical assistance, catalyses private sector investments to provide public goods.
And more public and private coordination – not least through policy reform – increases transparency and advances transition.
EBRD is the largest provider of finance to the agribusiness sector in the regions where we work.
So far, the total of our investments in agribusiness stands at well over €11 billion.
And, in the six years EBRD has been active here in Morocco we have signed eight agribusiness projects, all of them in the private sector.
Ladies and gentlemen, I mentioned the role of leadership earlier.
I believe that the EBRD, together with its partners, has displayed that quality in its work in this field in abundance.
But there is of course room to do still much more.
And together with many of you here today I know that we can achieve just that.
Thank you and please enjoy the rest of the day’s events.