Established at the 1974 World Food Conference, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) was founded on the principle that food scarcity is not always the driver of famines, but rather poverty and a lack of resilient agricultural infrastructure create the conditions necessary for a famine to break out. Therefore, world leaders developed a specialized financial institution that would be focused on investing in projects to strengthen agricultural infrastructure. Today, the IFAD has three strategic objectives: increasing the productive capacity of poor rural people, increasing their benefits from market participation, and strengthening the environmental sustainability and climate resilience of their economic activities. IFAD projects also seek to support countries that are working to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Topic A: Engaging Indigenous Systems of Knowledge Against Climate Change
For decades, the mistreatment of indigenous peoples has led to the relinquishing of resources and land possessions. However, the growing appreciation for traditional learning, knowledge, and cultural practices of indigenous peoples revealed many effective strategies for sustainable agriculture in the face of climate change. The International Fund of Agricultural Development (IFAD) has worked to bring policy originating from indigenous knowledge into action through the establishment of an Indigenous Peoples’ Forum. This forum provides a platform for collaboration between representatives of indigenous peoples and IFAD. In order to adopt new climate-resilient practices, it is necessary to promote knowledge from communities that engage in sustainable agricultural strategies. The various ecosystems of the territories that indigenous peoples live in make up a large part of the world’s biodiversity. Accordingly, knowledge in the conservation and sustainable management of resources is adapted to address the needs of each specific ecosystem. IFAD must determine a framework to facilitate the international community’s approach to indigenous systems of knowledge in order for global partners to address the impacts of climate change.
Topic B: Enhancing Rural Development to Promote the Sustainability of Agricultural Communities
As our world modernizes and develops, rural communities continue to be left behind. With an estimated 40 percent of the world’s population and 80 percent of the world’s extreme poor living in rural areas, the United Nations has recognized the development of rural areas as critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. However, one of the greatest barriers that these areas face is the unsustainability of agricultural communities, often exacerbated by a lack of infrastructure. Some of the reasons why rural communities struggle to grow is an inability to access financial systems, malnutrition and systems of generational poverty, and the migration of youth to urban areas that reduces the population of their communities. In order to properly address the breadth of this topic, the committee will need to be prepared to discuss issues of agricultural infrastructure investment as well as those of community-level development. While increasing development infrastructure and economic output will be important factors, the committee must also not lose sight of the fact that the goal of this development is to reduce poverty and inequality. The legal rights of women that pertain to land tenure are a key facet of gender equality in this realm, and the factors that contribute to youth migration are directly related to rural-community sustainability; both of these contribute directly to the sustenance of agricultural systems and communities. To that end, understandings of states’ positions towards gender equality and youth engagement are of critical importance. It will be the responsibility of the IFAD delegates to find a comprehensive solution to these issues and allocate the Fund’s resources to the areas where it is most needed.