IFAD’s Rural Development Report offers governments targeted policies to eradicate poverty

By Michele Pentorieri

The Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Paolo Gentiloni welcomes IFAD's President Kanayo F. Nwanze for the launched of the Rural Development Report 2016.
15 September 2016 - IFAD officially launched the Rural Development Report 2016 at an event hosted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Rome, Italy.

The report, Rural Development Report 2016: Fostering inclusive rural transformation, is a rallying call to policymakers and development practitioners to focus on rural transformation as a crucial element to eliminate hunger, poverty and to build a sustainable society for all.

The report is set in the context of a rapidly changing world, with growing demand for food, increased migration to cities and the impact of climate change and environmental degradation.

It provides insight into regional and country-specific challenges and historical legacies and how factors like employment, youth populations, rights to land, access to finance, gender equality and social protection influence successful interventions.

Rural development is also thought to be one of the most effective ways to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals set out in Agenda 2030. The report analyses global, regional and national pathways of rural transformation, starting from evidence collected by experts in over sixty countries.

The Italian Mister of Foreign Affairs Paolo Gentiloni, in opening the event, stressed the importance of Italy's cooperation in development stating: "Italy’s role is not only confined to development cooperation, but has the full potential to place the country at the center stage for the active participation of its entire economic system."
A copy of IFAD's Rural Development Report 2016.

In his opening statement, IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze said the report was an extremely important tool for evidence-based decision-making processes in the global fight to eradicate poverty and hunger.

Pointing to lessons from the report, Nwanze said that inclusive rural transformation is essential to sustainable development but will depend on the choices made by governments, the private sector and institutions like IFAD.

“Inclusive rural transformation can lift people out of poverty, revitalise communities and offer opportunities to all, including youth, who are the future of any nation,” Nwanze said.

Nwanze added that the report is "a vital resource to help policy-makers to make the right decision and investments to bring about inclusive rural transformation".

Paul Winters, Director of Research and Impact Assessment, and Officer-in-Charge of the Strategy and Knowledge Department at IFAD, presented key findings from the report.

Winters noted that "75 per cent of extreme poverty is still in rural areas" and, as a consequence, "if we want to address poverty, we have to address poverty in rural areas."
Paul Winters, Director of Research and Impact Assessment, and Officer-in-Charge of the Strategy and Knowledge Department at IFAD, presented key findings from the report.

Presenting his three key messages, he said, "Rural transformation happens as part of a broader process of structural transformation and the role of agriculture changes in that."

He added that "inclusive transformation will not happen automatically, it must be made to happen." And lastly that "fostering inclusive transformation is about making the right strategic choices for the country". 

Paul Winter's contribution was followed by a high-level panel discussion moderated by Zeinab Badawi, an award-winning broadcast journalist.

A number of international researchers, policy experts, government leaders and civil society representatives were on hand including Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of OXFAM International. Byanyima asserted that: "Smallholder farmers must be at the centre of rural transformation."

She also stressed that we need "to tackle social norms that hold women and communities back", and that we need "better infrastructure, roads communication, technology, inclusive finance that would make poor people able to find decent work in the non-farm sector."

The launch of the report is just the starting point. Several regional events have been organised by IFAD aimed at engaging various stakeholders in regional and country level policy and investment dialogues.

To learn more, browse the report online here and follow the conversation online at #ruraltransformation.