Protecting biodiversity ‘crucial’ to fighting hunger: IFAD

By Katy Askew

- Last updated on GMT

Protect biodiversity in the fight against hunger and climate change, IFAD urges / Pic: Getty-bettapoggi
Protect biodiversity in the fight against hunger and climate change, IFAD urges / Pic: Getty-bettapoggi

Related tags Biodiversity

Increased investment in biodiversity is needed to eradicate hunger and achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Speaking ahead of the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, IFAD president Gilbert Houngbo highlighted the importance of biodiversity to sustainable food systems.

“Biodiversity is a cornerstone of healthy and sustainable food systems,”​ he stressed.

“From protecting pollinators, to improving soil fertility and building resilience to the effects of climate change, biodiversity is fundamental to addressing global hunger. But the clock is ticking. We need to increase our investments to protect biodiversity before it is too late. Our future depends on it.”

Since 1978, IFAD have provided US$23.2 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached an estimated 518 million rural people. The international financial institution and a United Nations specialized agency revealed that it will step up its own level of investment in biodiversity.

Supporting nature-based solutions and small scale farmers

IFAD committed to focus 30% of its climate finance to support nature-based solutions in rural small-scale agriculture by 2030.

The organisation defined nature-based solutions as initiatives that promote the ‘proactive conservation, management and restoration’ of natural ecosystems and biodiversity. This is a critical approach to address the challenges of climate change, food and water security, and human health, the organisation stressed.

“Rural communities and small-scale farmers have a vital role to play. They are dependent on biodiversity, but are also important custodians of it, growing a wider range of species and varieties than large-scale farms,”​ said Houngbo.

IFAD’s investments in nature-based solutions aim to promote a healthy biosphere, increasing productivity and improving food security, nutrition and resilience to climate change.

Improving agricultural biodiversity on small-scale farms results in healthy, productive soils which sequester more carbon, IFAD suggested. “This therefore can also make an important cumulative contribution to carbon storage.”

The IUCN World Conservation Congress brought together governments, civil society, Indigenous Peoples, scientists and business to promote initiatives on ‘the most urgent environmental and sustainability challenges’, such as the biodiversity and climate crises, in the context of the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Houngbo announced IFAD’s investment commitment at the high-level roundtable on ‘Financing for Biodiversity’.

Eight out of 10 of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas, and most depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. They are also the people most likely to face hunger. There was a dramatic increase in global hunger in 2020, with up to 811 million hungry people.

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