The 3rd annual International Seminar on Global Poverty Reduction Partnerships organized by three Rome-based UN agencies (RBAs) — The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Programme (WFP) — together with the International Poverty Reduction Center in China (IPRCC) and China Internet Information Center (CIIC), was held Wednesday in the margins of the Expo for International Cooperation (EXCO 2019) in Rome, Italy. It focused on the role of technological innovations and global partnerships in achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), accelerating poverty reduction and eradicating hunger.
This year’s seminar discussed how to better use technological innovations in rural areas to promote inclusive and sustainable development, promote food security, nutrition, sustainable agriculture, gender equality and reduce rural poverty. Partnerships, with a special focus in South-South and Triangular Cooperation, were highlighted as key to promoting the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Deputy Executive Director of WFP, Amir Abdulla, speaking on behalf of the RBAs, highlighted the role of partnerships to achieving the SDGs in several domains around the world, and how the use of technology improves the lives of the most disadvantaged communities in rural areas.
“I’m glad that this year’s seminar is focusing on technological innovations to help accelerate poverty reduction and achieve zero hunger. We need to continue working in a collaborative way to bridge the increasing gap of technology gains between developed/developing countries, rural/urban areas and disadvantaged communities,” Abdulla said.
He also noted that one initiative that is increasingly generating synergies between public and private actors is e-commerce to connect farmers with value chains and markets at a global scale. This has proven to reduce rural poverty, by increasing farmer’s incomes and productivity and creating jobs.
Xia Gengsheng, vice minister of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Reduction and Development, said that in the past six years, China has made decisive victories in the battle against poverty. Based on current standards, China has lifted 82.39 million rural poor out of poverty, with the rural poor population down from 98.99 million in 2012 to 16.6 million in 2018. The poverty rate has decreased from 10.2% to 1.7%.
He emphasized in light of the international experience and China’s practices in poverty reduction, the last miles of poverty reduction efforts are the hardest. “We need to continue to push forward with all efforts, fight against poverty with perseverance, consolidate current achievements and reduce poverty for more people. We will never give up during the battle,” he said.
Xia noted that the Chinese government is working on the post-2020 strategy for poverty reduction. “We will take into account China’s current context and learn from international successful experiences. We will promote cooperation with international agencies such as the FAO, IFAD and WFP, so that we can better explore measures to address relative poverty and promote China’s poverty alleviation cause in a sustainable manner.”
Tang Shengyao, director of the Office of South-South and Triangular Cooperation of FAO speaking on behalf of the RBAs, highlighted during his remarks the importance of this seminar for disseminating successful experiences on the use of technological innovations for rural development. He indicated that sharing these innovations is useful for all development actors. He also added that the seminar serves as a platform for raising awareness on the key role that global partnerships play in sustainable development, which is at the core of South-South and Triangular Cooperation, and pointed out that the engagement of new actors such as developing banks and private sector is key for sharing knowledge about technological innovations that contribute to meet the 2030 Agenda.
During the seminar, the result of the Global Solicitation and Challenge Prize on Best Poverty Reduction Practices was presented, with the list of the first compilation of 24 poverty reduction case studies released, out of all the 110 best case studies on the shortlist, announced by Xue Lisheng, vice editor-in-chief of CIIC.
Xue said, the campaign was jointly launched by seven organizations, including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, FAO, IFAD, WFP, IPRCC and CIIC, in May 2018 in Beijing. Among 820 case studies received in total, 645 Chinese ones were received, introducing various poverty reduction approaches, such as through tourism, financial poverty alleviation, poverty reduction for vulnerable groups and poverty reduction through employment and entrepreneurship.
International organizations and research institutions contributed 175 international case studies from over 30 countries, including Brazil, the Philippines, Colombia, Pakistan, Haiti, Ghana, Cambodia, Cameroon, Kenya, Nigeria, Laos, Malaysia, etc.
Some participants introduced their poverty reduction practices on the seminar. Ni Limin, the director of Alibaba Poverty Relief Fund said, the company fights against poverty in the aspects of education, health, women, ecology, and e-commerce, to help poverty-stricken regions eradicate poverty and to explore a sustainable and participatory “Internet + poverty relief” model.
“We will leverage more social resources so that more enterprises, institutions, and the public can join the fight against poverty,” Ni added.
He Zhiwei, county mayor of Horqin Zuoyi Rear Banner (County), Inner Mongolia of China, stressed that scientific and targeted measures should be adopted to reduce poverty in areas with frail ecological environment and severe land desertification. “It is important to improve the living environment and production conditions, foster leading ecological industries and increase income of people in poverty in a sustainable way,” he said.
Yao Li, the founder and chairperson of BN Vocational School said that efficient charitable vocational education can provide high-quality educational resources for poor and vulnerable young people, thereby improving their ability to get a job and increase income.
Ashwani K. Muthoo, director of Global Engagement and Multilateral Relations Division of IFAD, said, “This is a very commendable initiative, because it does give an opportunity for China and the global community to learn from the practices and experiences of people who are actually implementing activities on the grounds. We can identify best practices that can be replicated and scaled in other contexts. We can also explore, further deepen and understand what those innovations are and to see how they can be adopted in other countries and other context.”
Melanie Ullrich, external relations officer, European Representative Office of ADB said, “With unremitting efforts, the PRC has made remarkable achievement in the past 40 years. China’s successful experience in reducing poverty has also generated a bulk of knowledge to share with the rest of the developing world. It could be the immediate, tangible contribution that China can make to the global commitment to end poverty and achieve sustainable development by 2030. The Global Solicitation and Challenge Prize on Best Poverty Reduction Practices is very fruitful and allows more countries to learn from China’s experience.”
As the third seminar of its kind since 2017, this year’s seminar has received support from various parties, with a growing number of partners along the way. More than 200 people from governments, international organizations, private sector, civil society and academia attended the seminar.