Conte at the 42nd Session of the IFAD Governing Council meeting

Dalla Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri:

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte attended the opening ceremony of the 42nd session of the meeting of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) at the FAO headquarters.

The text of the address follows.


Your Holiness, Honourable Heads of State, Madame Minister of Rwanda, Mister President of the 42nd session of the Governing Council, Mister President of the IFAD, Mister Director General of the FAO, Mister Executive Director of the World Food Programme, Honourable Ministers and Governors, Mesdames and Messrs delegates, It is truly a great honour for me to be able to take part in this important annual event of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development. I would like to thank President Houngbo for his invitation and Director General Graziano for his hospitality, which enabled me to visit the splendid headquarters of the FAO for the first time. I would especially like to thank the Holy Father on behalf of the Italian Government, for illustrating once again, with his presence, his warm solidarity and support for the work of the Rome-based Agencies and their daily commitment towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda “Zero Hunger” goal.

I would like to take this opportunity to convey to IFAD, FAO and the WFP, and to the thousands of men and women of all nationalities that work there throughout the world, often in very difficult and risky conditions, the support and gratitude of all the Italians. Italy is very proud to host the headquarters of these three UN bodies in Rome: with their coordinated action, they have now become the main global point of reference for the fight against hunger and the promotion of sustainable agricultural development. One person out of nine in the world is still malnourished and unfortunately, this tendency appears to be on the rise: it is a reality that challenges our consciences because we are all responsible and it has become increasingly urgent for the international community to take concerted, concrete action to finally put an end to hunger and extreme poverty.

Denying food means denying humanity, even before justice, equality and freedom. It is for this reason that we have to restore dignity to rural areas in the world where poverty is most concentrated, and include those who have been excluded in equitable and sustainable development processes. Adequate housing conditions, dignified work and access to natural resources – ‘techo, trabajo and tierra’ are the three Ts close to the heart of Your Holiness, and that you often bring up. These are essential conditions to accomplish this mission. The work carried out by the UN agencies in Rome is absolutely crucial in this sense. IFAD carries out an especially significant mission, linked to its two-fold nature as both financial institution and development agency. The financial instruments at the service of the poorest among the poor is truly the synthesis of the joint work that many stakeholders are asked to contribute to.

I welcomed the theme chosen for this Governing Council with great satisfaction, i.e. taking care that innovation be on a participatory basis, respecting cultures and traditions, and that it help enhance and strengthen local production systems and the rural economy as a whole. Providing credible and innovative answers to the challenges of food security is what gives life to Italy’s partnership and cooperation with developing countries, especially in Africa, where our Government  especially focusing its commitment. Our common goal must be to contribute to developing a mature and sustainable African entrepreneurship and to support young people and women, since women have always been the fulcrum of rural economies, the custodians of the land and the first responsible for the care of new generations.

The slavery of hunger and poverty can and must be vanquished, and human beings must be placed back at the centre of development processes. It is a moral duty; a moral, before political, imperative, involving leaders but also individual citizens. Italy, also in its position as the host country of the UN centre of food security and development of sustainable agriculture will continue to play its part, I assure you, with growing commitment and determination. I wish you a successful day of work in this important Governing Council meeting.

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