H.E. Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo, Deputy Director General of the International Labor Organization ILO and former Prime Minister of Togo, has been appointed as the sixth President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), following the expiration of the mandate of Dr. Kanayo Nwanze.
Mr Houngbo was elected by IFAD Governing Council at its 40th session, which closed last 15 February. IFAD President’s mandate is due to last four years and it is renewable for one term.
“I have come from the rural world. I have first-hand knowledge of the harshness of this kind of life,” said Houngbo in his acceptance speech. He takes up the helm at a time when changing government priorities and the more immediate needs of global emergencies – like climate change, food and nutrition insecurity – are challenging the whole planet.
With growing global demand for food, increased migration to cities and the impact of climate change, investments in agriculture and rural development will be essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of ending poverty and hunger.
“We have to keep our ambition and at the same time be realistic and pragmatic,” he said. “We have to demonstrate that every dollar invested will have the highest value for money.”
Houngbo has more than 30 years of experience in political affairs, international development, diplomacy and financial management. Since 2013 he has served as Deputy Director General of the International Labour Organization, where he has been responsible for external programmes and partnerships. Prior to that, he was Assistant Secretary General, Africa Regional Director and Chief of Staff at the United Nations Development Programme. He is a member of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. His candidacy was unanimously endorsed by the governments of the African Union.
WFO has been following very closely the election of the new IFAD President, as he leads one of the organizations prioritizing farmers and agriculture in their core mandate. In the past two years, under the Presidency of Kanayo Nwanze, WFO managed to receive strong support from IFAD for our farmers’ especially in the climate related activities. Through his guidance WFO was also granted a seat in IFAD Farmers’ Forum.
We will now keep watching at the next developments following the appointment of Mr Houngbo, as well as, keeping even stronger the voice of farmers in IFAD projects and programme.