Climate change and security focus of meeting with Pachauri

IFAD President in India – Day Two
At their meeting in New Delhi, IFAD’s President and Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), got straight down to business.

Along with other high-level personalities, Pachauri has been invited to take part in a Plenary Panel, to be moderated by CNN’s Jim Clancy, with the network’s agreement, at IFAD’s Governing Council (GC) in February. Pachauri, a 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winner on behalf of the IPCC, told the IFAD delegation that he was under pressure to fulfil a conflicting commitment. IFAD’s President, however, presented a compelling argument that Pachauri’s presence would add value to the GC and so draw greater attention to the issues facing poor rural people.

In their discussions, Pachauri credited Europe with taking the lead in international efforts to combat climate change by reducing emissions, with Japan also being ambitious and North America ‘still to come on board’ but noted it is a pity we are not making headway on this,” he said.

He recognised it was important that IFAD was focusing on these issues at a meeting which gathers 165 countries, because at least a dozen countries are on the brink of becoming failed states.

‘The implications of this are that there will be many more problems of governance and in some areas where governments will collapse there will be more illegal activity, more arms more drugs, more terrorists. These societies must be helped and not just with the eradication of poverty’ he said.

IFAD’s President noted that investment in rural communities is fundamental to shape societies and stem migration. He noted that from the Sahel to the mountains of Latin America climate change will exacerbate all the issues that Pachauri had raised, pointing to the Horn of Africa as evidence of how things can spiral out of control.

Pachauri proudly treated his guests to cups of special herbal tea with the support of TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute) of which he is Director-General.

“They have created over 3 hectares of farm where they are growing herbal plant seedlings, which are then given to farmers in Uttarkhand, along with training in organic cultivation using bio-fertilisers and post harvest processes” he said.

The President said he was keen for closer IFAD collaboration with TERI – on adaptation related to agriculture at community level and downscaling. “I shall be at your door step when ever you want. I have the highest regard for you and your organisation and what it is doing” was Pachauri’s reply.

The two development leaders also shared views on research related to rural poverty. Pachauri suggested that what was needed was more effective research to reach the doors of the poor and noted that the CGIAR system should embrace this further.
Regarding Maharashtra - the location of the most recent IFAD-funded project - and an area heavily dependent on rain fed agriculture, Pachauri noted that downscaling was needed, communities must be involved.

Pachauri has asked oil rich countries to convert oil wealth to soil wealth and Nwanze said, as a scientist himself he relates to soil health improvement vis a vis investment in healthy soils.

The President drew Pachauri’s attention to the work of the Global Environment and Climate Change unit of IFAD, (GECC) saying we would like to learn and work together on climate change-related issues. Pachauri warned that whatever happens in Copenhagen, international organisations must move on.

Meetings with ministers

India’s Minister of Agriculture Sharad Pawar, impressed on the President that it was important that farmers’ incomes be increased – particularly in the current scenario which saw them grappling with climate change. He noted that IFAD’s biggest strength is innovative financing but also raised the need for greater investment to grow the dairy sector, saying he would like to see IFAD stepping in where interests converge.

The Minister encouraged IFAD to coordinate ongoing and future work also through NABARD – the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development – on the following sectors: fisheries, dairy and animal husbandry.

Thomas Elhaut, Director of the Asia and Pacific Division, pointed out that IFAD is already focusing much more on these sectors given increased incomes and consumption and the President pointed out that IFAD’s India portfolio for the period 2010-2012 will increase to $140 million.

Referring to IFAD’s highly successful project in the North East project – which is to be scaled up by the Government with support from the World Bank - the Agriculture Minister praised IFAD for the emphasis it places on institution-building to ensure the sustainability of its programmes and projects.

In his call on Krishna Tirath, Minister of Women’s and Child Development, the President drew her attention to the emphasis IFAD places on women and youth, and his desire to increase collaboration on the empowerment of landless and tribal peoples.

“Our experience shows that women-headed households are four times more productive and communities with women headed households advance faster because they invest in women and kids – they invest in the future” he told her.

The President also noted that is India is an example of best practice from a performance point of view. A round table in New Delhi bringing together project managers and partners to help formulate strategies that will be presented to IFAD’s Executive Board to set a Road Map for investment in India over the next 5 years.

Empowerment of women is a priority of the Indian Government and the President was told that a new directorate is being set up under the Prime Minister’s office. The President noted ‘we are looking to new era of dynamic partnership with an increased portfolio in the country’.

Farhana Haque-Rahman and Mattia Prayer-Galetti with the President.