Among the plethora of actors that can support SDG2, the RBAs have the potential to lead by recognizing their complementarity and building synergies. However, they have been reluctant to embrace this role.
The global institutional landscape for food and agriculture is made up of a broad range of actors including those at the global, regional and national levels as well as actors from multilateral agencies, bilateral donors, research, the private sector and civil society. Fragmentation in the space is both horizontal, between themes and sectors, and vertical, in terms of crossover between different levels. This creates overlapping mandates and competition for scarce resources.
There are seven global multilateral actors linked to agriculture and food that are critical to achieving SDG2. The three RBAs form the core of the multilateral actors in food and agriculture. The addition of the World Bank – more specifically the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA) – and the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) make up the ‘big five’. Meanwhile, the ‘big seven’ also includes the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Global Agricultural Food Security Program (GAFSP) – their inclusion emphasizes where progress towards SDG2 is most needed.
Within this global architecture, the RBAs are generally seen as the logical leaders due to their sole focus on the agricultural and food sector and the complementary nature of their mandates. FAO provides data and analysis as well as evidence-based policy and technical advice, it supports dialogue and partnership-building based on country needs, and develops treaties, standards and normative instruments in the food and agricultural space. IFAD is a specialized UN agency and an international financial institution (IFI) that provides investments in the form of loans and grants to governments dedicated to small-scale producers for inclusive rural transformation. WFP is a humanitarian organization dedicated to saving and changing lives, delivering food assistance in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience.
The RBAs have the potential to lead on achieving SDG2, even though they themselves have not definitively put SDG2 at the centre of their agendas.
Although covering multiple areas beyond food and agriculture, the World Bank and AfDB are key players because of the substantial finance they provide to the sector. For low- and middle-income countries, the World Bank (through the IDA) is the largest financial contributor to the food and agricultural sector ($1.8 billion disbursement in 2018), followed by IFAD ($642 million in 2018), and the AfDB ($231 million in 2018) through the African Development Fund. The CGIAR is also crucial, since, through its 15 international agricultural research centres and strong relationships with national agricultural research systems, it identifies and promotes agricultural innovations. Meanwhile, GAFSP is a financing vehicle in the food and agricultural space that has provided $1.9 billion since its inception in 2008. It provides grant financing, encourages strong ownership of projects by recipient countries and aligns with member states’ national priorities.
The RBAs have the potential to lead on achieving SDG2,even though they themselves have not definitively put SDG2 at the centre of their agendas and there is some overlap in their activities and concerns of mission creep across the agencies. Recognition of RBA complementarity and potential synergies between their activities has fostered interest in collaboration and led to regular attempts to integrate their activities through greater coordination and integration. However, no wholesale reforms have occurred to enhance leadership, governance and coordination. As found in the key research interviews for this paper, member states have generally focused on improving these elements incrementally by gradually introducing reforms over time.
Any proposed changes to facilitate leadership, strong governance and adequate coordination to achieve SDG2 requires consideration of the current factors that are preventing the RBAs from playing a central role.