Rome, 12 October 2020 – Governments need to make critical investments to halt the increase in poverty and hunger rates to ensure ongoing food supply for every one of us, said Meike van Ginneneken, who joins the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) today as the new Associate Vice President of the Strategy and Knowledge Department.
“COVID-19 is having the most dire impact on the world’s poorest people. They are the ones who work in the informal sector and are at most risk of being unemployed. They are the ones without social safety nets. But they are also the ones growing the food for urban and rural communities,” said van Ginneneken, who has dedicated her professional career to fighting poverty, most recently as Chief Executive Officer of the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation. “This is where we need to urgently invest.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there could be up to 132 million more hungry people in 2020 alone, and extreme poverty looks set to increase for the first time in two decades. The impact is greatest in rural areas, where the majority of the world’s poorest and hungriest people live – most of whom depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Rural small-scale farmers produce 50 percent of the world’s food calories.
“When building back from the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has an opportunity to get it right,” said van Ginneneken. “Getting it right has multiple dimensions. One is to create a world that is more sustainable and resilient to climate change. Another is to be more equitable. This time we canot leave anyone behind.”
In her previous role at SNV, van Ginneneken oversaw the growth of the organization which focuses on the development of agriculture, energy and water in 28 countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Prior to this, she held various leadership positions at the World Bank. In her new role, she will lead the team that provides expert guidance on IFAD’s strategic direction, thematic priorities and technical quality of the organization’s operations.
“As the leader of the Strategy and Knowledge Department, I will be in a unique position to ensure that IFAD’s technical knowledge to build more resilient and sustainable food systems will be deployed in every country where IFAD works,” she said.
IFAD is the only global development organization that works exclusively on eradicating poverty and hunger in rural areas. It is dedicated to transforming agriculture, rural economies and food systems by making them more inclusive, productive, resilient and sustainable.