Pope Francis has highlighted the importance of rural development and the essential role played by the United Nations’ International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in achieving the first two Sustainable Development Goals – ending global hunger and poverty.
“None of this will be possible without achieving rural development, a development that has been talked about for a long time but has not fully materialized,” the Pope said while addressing Member States gathered at IFAD’s 42nd Governing Council in Rome recently.
IFAD President Gilbert F. Houngbo, in his address, echoed the Pope’s message. “The rates of extreme poverty and food insecurity remain persistently high. The progress we once claimed in reducing hunger has stalled. Today, nearly 821 million people suffer chronic under-nourishment, 37 million more than in 2014,” said Houngbo.
Given this reality, Houngbo urged those present to invest more in rural development in order to prevent future crises of hunger, poverty and migration.
The Pope said the world had achieved great scientific and technical advances and now has the capacity to win “the battle against hunger and misery, if it is taken seriously.”
He called on government leaders to work together to make the slogan “hunger does not have a present or a future, only a past” a reality. Speaking of the world’s poor and hungry people, he said “I would like us to be able to look at their faces without blushing because their cries have been heard.”