Director-General  QU Dongyu

FAO urges donors to see merits of flexible and longer-term funds


29 November 2019, Rome - FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu met today with resource partners and urged them to appreciate the merits of the Flexible Multi-Partner Mechanism (FMM), an innovative FAO funding tool that has harnessed longer-term funding pledges to catalyze significant innovation and impact since being set up nine years ago.

The Director-General also expressly thanked the pioneer contributors to the FMM, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as the region of Flanders, for their generous support, trust and vision. He welcomed France and Italy, two new partners that joined FMM this year, while Norway is in talks to join.

“I applaud your foresight and vision!” Qu said donor representatives at the meeting.

The FFM has been FAO’s main pooled funding mechanisms for partners willing to contribute flexible funds to the Organization. A key feature is that such resources are not earmarked, allowing for their strategic, sustained, creative and in particular cross-sectoral use in line with FAO’s Strategic Framework.

“The FMM has been one of the key funding sources to leverage innovative work, achieve value for money and address emerging challenges and underfunded priorities at country, regional and global levels,” the Director-General said. He noted that shorter-term resources can compound project delays and impede the achievement of tangible results, creating risk for FAO’s reputation and recruitment goals.

He pointed to FAO’s Voluntary Guidelines on Responsible Governance of Tenure, the Blue Growth Initiative and Climate-Smart Agriculture as signature programmes that benefited from the FFM.

Core and unearmarked funding, provided by donors in a flexible, multi-year and predictable manner, is especially valuable for FAO and other United Nations agencies to offer the type of cross-cutting, holistic development solutions that the 2030 Agenda requires.

However, core resources for the UN System have only increased by 23 percent since 2002, while Non-core resources – which means earmarked contributions tied to specific projects – have increased by 150 percent over the same period.

This “dramatic imbalance should be reversed” Qu said. 

The FMM in action

Since inception in 2010, the FMM has received more than $70 million and funded 32 projects implemented in over 70 countries, delivering tangible results both locally and globally.

Less earmarked funds help reduce transaction costs through simplified and harmonized processes, reduce fragmentation and help achieve multiplier effects by fostering cross-sectoral integration.

FAO recently adjusted the business model of the FFM, increasing the focus on programmatic aspects rather than specific projects, and streamlining monitoring reports to make them more forward-looking.

The FMM has enabled investments in new approaches and practices and the strengthening of capacities to help rural communities respond to pressing challenges.

FMM-aided projects include youth job programmes in Guatemala, marine economic development in Kenya, food loss and waste reduction efforts in Egypt, landscape restoration in Cambodia, tenure policy formulation in Mongolia, digital inclusion for smallholders in Rwanda and sustainable food and agriculture initiatives in Bangladesh, among others.

The FMM has also fostered the development and dissemination of global knowledge products such as the Food Insecurity Experience Scale, which has been selected as an indicator to measure progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal #2, to end hunger by 2030.

“Let us work together with trust towards a more sustainable and better world”, the Director-General said, pointing to FMM as a way to move the partnership between FAO and its Member states “to the next level of impact”.