Former Prime Minister of Togo, Gilbert Fossoun Houngbo has just been appointed as the sixth president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Houngbo, who was appointed by IFAD’s member states at the organization’s annual Governing Council meeting takes up the mantle at a time when humanitarian crises like natural disasters, conflict and refugees threaten to divert funding away from long-term development.
With growing demand for food, increased migration to cities and the impact of climate change, it is no secret that investments in agriculture and rural development will be essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals of ending poverty and hunger.
Born and raised in rural Togo, Houngbo believes that inequality in today’s world should never be accepted and recognized the role of IFAD in bringing opportunities to the poor and excluded.
In his words, “I have come from the rural world and I have first-hand knowledge of the harshness of this kind of life. We have to keep our ambition and at the same time be realistic and pragmatic. 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 was 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 also a member of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants. It follows therefore that his candidacy was unanimously endorsed by governments of the African Union.
Houngbo succeeds Kanayo Nwanze who was president for two terms and will officially resume office on April 1, 2017.
IFAD is a specialized United Nations agency and international financial institution that invests in eradicating rural poverty in developing countries around the world.