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FAO launches new learning programme to enhance responsible investment in agriculture

Image from the meeting

Today until March 29th over 30 policy makers from Guinea Conakry, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal will be gathered in Dakar to participate in the learning programme ”Creating an enabling environment for responsible investment in agriculture and food systems”. Organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in partnership with the Agricultural and Rural Prospective Initiative (IPAR in its French acronym), the programme aims at building the capacities of key political leaders to foster more and better investments in agriculture, as per the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (CFS-RAI).

Investing in agriculture and rural development is critical to the achievement of the first two Sustainable Development Goals – ending poverty and hunger. Yet, less than 10 per cent of government expenditure is dedicated to agriculture, which is insufficient to eliminate poverty and hunger, especially in rural areas. Likewise, in the past three decades the share of agriculture in total foreign direct investment and credits at global levels has been below 5%. With global hunger on the rise over the past three years, an increase in agricultural investments is urgently needed to reverse this trend and achieve the 2030 Agenda.

To support Governments in addressing this pressing matter, FAO has put together the Umbrella Programme Supporting Responsible Investments in Agriculture and Food Systems. This programme recognizes the importance of creating an environment conducive to responsible investment, including legal, institutional and investment incentive frameworks. While policy makers play a catalytic role in facilitating this process, consultations carried out by FAO have revealed that they often lack the necessary knowledge and skills to do so.

“FAO’s new learning programme aims to strengthen the capacities of policy makers to enhance responsible agricultural investments in their countries by applying key international instruments in their policy and regulatory frameworks, namely the Principles for Responsible Investment in Agriculture and Food Systems (CFS-RAI) and the Voluntary Guidelines for Responsible Governance of Tenure (VGGT),” said FAO Subregional Representative and FAO Representative in Senegal, Mr Gouantoueu Robert Guei.

The CFS-RAI and VGGT provide standards for promoting investments that foster sustainable development, respect existing legitimate land rights and cater for the needs of communities. Both have been endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

In addition to familiarizing the basic principles of an enabling environment for responsible agricultural investments, the learning programme enables participants to conduct a country-specific context analysis, exploring gaps in institutional and legal frameworks and identifying possible solutions.

“This learning programme follows an innovative approach that focuses on creating dialogue and sharing knowledge, experiences and lessons learnt among countries with similar challenges in order to identify actionable solutions to increase responsible investment in agriculture in our countries,” said IPAR’s Director, Mr Cheikh Oumar Ba.

This is the first time that this unique learning programme is being deployed, with funding from a multi-donor trust fund that is supported by France and Switzerland. The programme builds on previous work carried out by FAO and IPAR on the application of the VGGT in the countries mentioned.

The participants of the programme are directly involved in the development of legal, institutional and incentive frameworks affecting agricultural investments in their respective countries. These include senior policy makers and civil servants from key ministries and government agencies, such as ministries of economy, agriculture, finance, rural development, and investment promotion agencies. The participants were selected through a call for applications.

The learning programme has a blended approach composed of three consecutive phases. First, a three- week online workshop including interactive lessons, questionnaires and participatory activities on a collaborative digital platform. This took place between 18 February and 8 March 2019 and it allowed participants to conduct a first analysis of the specific context of their country.

The second phase is a face-to-face workshop starting today until March 29th. During these five days, the participants will deepen their analysis of the specific contexts of their countries. They will focus on identifying gaps in the legal, institutional and investment incentive frameworks in order to pinpoint possible solutions.

A central part of this phase is the sharing of knowledge and experiences at the regional level. This will allow for the analysis of successful strategies and will encourage networking among institutions as an important step to enhance regional cooperation.

The learning process will conclude with a one-month mentoring phase. During this phase, participants will have the opportunity to further interact and discuss with the subject matter experts and facilitators, as well as to share their progress and keep an open channel of communication.

The whole learning process is guided by facilitators from IPAR and FAO technical experts, with special guests invited to address specific issues. In the second half of the year, FAO and IPAR will launch the second phase of the learning programme to work in depth on specific priorities identified during this face-to-face workshop.

Later this year FAO will offer its new learning programme in Uganda, and in 2020 in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Lao PDR with support from Germany.

The e-learning programme “Creating an enabling environment for responsible investment in agriculture and food systems” will soon be available in the FAO e-learning centre: https://elearning.fao.org/course/index.php?categoryid=103

More information in http://www.fao.org/in-action/responsible-agricultural-investments


Photo credit IPAR