US$3.8 billion, that’s how much the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will now be able to invest in the world’s rural poor. This, thanks to an unprecedented record-high financing target set by governments from 177 countries at IFAD’s annual Governing Council.

At a time when many nations are facing severe economic challenges, this move demonstrates the importance global leaders place on investing in effective long-term rural development as critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This strong vote of confidence significantly boosts IFAD’s capacity to address the devastating socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 and climate change. With this unprecedented funding, IFAD will reach approximately 140 million people in the world’s most fragile and remote areas over three years.

When combined with an expansion of IFAD’s pioneering climate change adaptation programme (ASAP+), a new private sector financing programme, and co-financing by national and international partners, IFAD aims to deliver a total programme of work of at least $11 billion from 2022-2024.

“Today our Member States made it clear that the fate of the poor and hungry matters. All of us are united in our battle against the impacts of COVID-19 and a rapidly changing climate – but none feel the impacts more profoundly than rural people in the world’s poorest countries,” said Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of IFAD. “It costs less to invest in sustainability and building long-term resilience to shocks than it does to respond to repeated humanitarian emergencies,” he added. “That is why the Sustainable Development Goals exist, and this increased commitment to IFAD is an important step to delivering on them. The contributions pledged so far show our Member States are determined to eradicate poverty and hunger, and are confident in the impact of IFAD’s work.”

Already, 67 countries have announced new pledges totalling more than $1.1 billion in support of IFAD’s Twelfth Replenishment (IFAD12), a process whereby Member States define strategic priorities and commit funds to the organization for its work in 2022-2024. More pledges are expected throughout 2021.

In a strong show of support, the governments of Germany and France issued a joint statement that said; ‘As IFAD12 is both ambitious and necessary to address rural poverty at this critical time, the German government and the French government have both decided to significantly increase their financial support to IFAD to an all-time-high. We urge all Member States to join us in making an ambitious contribution.’

IFAD is unique among international financial institutions in the high number of Member States - usually more than 100 – that contribute voluntarily to its core funding. This includes some of the world’s poorest countries, who were among the first to announce significantly increased pledges last year, highlighting the value they place on their partnership with IFAD, and putting pressure on traditional donors to step up.