Pope Francis addresses the opening ceremony of the 42nd annual Governing Council meeting of the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
IFAD, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, is the United Nations Agency that works to eradicate poverty and hunger in remote areas of developing countries. Together with local governments, the Agency develops and finances projects aimed at helping rural people to help themselves.
Concrete and real solutions
Addressing IFAD’s 42nd annual Governing Council meeting in Rome, on Thursday, Pope Francis began by giving voice to “the longings and needs of the multitude of our brothers and sisters who suffer in the world”. The Pope described what he called the “precarious situations” in which they live: the result of polluted air and water, depleted natural resources, deficient sanitary infrastructures, and insufficient housing.
Pope Francis called for determination in the fight against poverty and hunger, encouraging the international community, and those who have the resources, not to shy away from their responsibilities, but to seek “concrete and real solutions”. He also confirmed the commitment of the Holy See to promoting similar initiatives.
Sustainable Development Goals
The Pope recalled the primary objectives of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: “the eradication of poverty, the fight against hunger and the promotion of food sovereignty”. These can only be achieved, he said, through local rural development: “It is paradoxical”, said the Pope, “that a good part of the more than 820 million people who suffer hunger and malnutrition in the world, live in rural areas, are dedicated to food production, and are farmers”.
“Today's challenges are so intricate and complex that we cannot continue to face them on an occasional basis, with emergency resolutions”, continued Pope Francis. More than ever, he said, “we must join forces, reach consensus and strengthen ties”. In this sense, the Pope praised the results IFAD has achieved in recent years “through greater decentralization, promoting south-south cooperation, diversifying funding sources and modes of action”.
Science with a conscience
Finally, Pope Francis referenced the theme of this year’s IFAD Governing Council session: "Innovations and entrepreneurial initiatives in the rural world". While it is important to invest in innovation, business models and production efficiency, he said, we must also promote "science with a conscience", putting technology at the service of the poor.
“New technologies should not be opposed to local cultures and traditional knowledge”, said the Pope, “but should complement them and act in synergy with them”.
Words of encouragement
The Pope’s last words were of encouragement for those who work regularly at the International Fund for Agricultural Development: “May your work, your sleepless nights and your deliberations be for the benefit of the discarded and victims of indifference and selfishness”, he said, “and may we see the total defeat of hunger and a bountiful harvest of justice and prosperity”.