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EBRD and FAO mark 25 years of cooperation with US$ 5.5 million initiative

By Lucia Sconosciuto

With the launch of a new technical assistance package for several southern and eastern Mediterranean countries today, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) marked 25 years of joint effort towards more sustainable agrifood systems. 

To celebrate the occasion, ERBD President Odile Renaud-Basso met with FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu at FAO headquarters in Rome, where they planted an olive tree as a symbol of the long-term cooperation between the organisations. 

An initiative focused on improving food security

The heads of the two institutions also launched a new US$ 5.5 million package of technical assistance to improve food security in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and the West Bank and Gaza

The joint initiative, which will launch in January, is a timely response to the crisis in grain markets, which has made global food security more precarious. 

The initiative will help governments revisit some of their agrifood policies, for example, by improving the long-term resilience of the grain value chain. 

The package supports public and private investment in upgrading national grain import systems, including the development of more efficient procurement and better storage infrastructure. 

Lastly, it will help countries re-assess their own food production potential, looking at climate and environmental constraints and maximising the value of local production, including through trade diversification.

The new technical assistance package complements the EBRD’s individual financing for these countries. Tunisia, for instance, has received a US$ 150.5 million loan to buy cereals in the face of the global markets’ crisis. 

Director-General QU Dongyu said: "Transforming agrifood systems calls for a range of technical solutions, enabling policies and investment. Together with the EBRD and other partners, FAO has been supporting Members to move forward on these three fronts simultaneously to ensure the Four Betters: better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all - leaving no one behind. FAO looks forward to stepping up its 25-year partnership with the EBRD for even stronger collaboration to achieve the SDGs."

EBRD President Renaud-Basso said: “We are proud of the work done together with the FAO over the past 25 years and we will continue to strengthen our cooperation in the foreseeable future. Boosting food security is one of the EBRD’s priorities and, together with the FAO, we are able to put our joint expertise in finance and technical solutions to the benefit of the regions where we both operate. The new technical assistance programme in the southern and eastern Mediterranean is the latest example”. 

Over two decades of cooperation

The FAO and the EBRD began cooperating in 1997, which has paved the way for 200 joint technical assistance projects worth US$ 60 million.  

The joint efforts have been focusing on supporting the development of sustainable agrifood value chains in eastern and central Europe, Central Asia and the southern and eastern Mediterranean, combining the FAO’s technical and policy facilitation skills with the EBRD’s investment capacity and expertise. 

The EBRD President and the FAO Director-General reaffirmed their commitment to their long-term cooperation efforts, noting that transforming agrifood systems typically requires a combination of financing and technical solutions, which their institutions can provide together, building on their comparative strengths.

The EBRD and the FAO have recently worked together to analyse and understand ongoing global food security challenges and their impact on specific countries and regions. The two institutions have also organised several events to promote global dialogue on food security, including a panel at the EBRD’s 2022 Annual Meeting, a joint event with the World Trade Organization and a panel at COP27 in Egypt.

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