IFAD is a United Nations specialized agency and an international financial institution active in 92 countries, with headquarters in Rome and 40 country offices. It is the only development organization exclusively focused on transforming rural areas and food systems to make them more inclusive, productive, resilient and sustainable. It works in rural areas of the world to address poverty and hunger through low-interest loans and grants. Since 1978, IFAD has provided US$22.4 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached an estimated 512 million people.
IFAD brings the point of view of smallholder farmers and rural entrepreneurs to bear on international policy decisions and supports their engagement in policy processes. In line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and particularly its pledge to “leave no one behind” IFAD prioritizes work with the most vulnerable groups in rural communities: youth, women, indigenous peoples and people with disabilities.
IFAD’s comparative advantage lies in its targeting of the poor, vulnerable peoples and those least likely to have access to assets and opportunities due to social exclusion and marginalization. Historically, and particularly in the last decade, IFAD has kept a close focus on mainstreaming environment and climate change, gender, youth and nutrition, thus delivering enhanced results with the aim of achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
In accordance with these principles, in 2009 IFAD begun to work with Slow Food, a collaboration that has continued to expand until the present day.
In 2017, IFAD approved a grant to Slow Food with the title “Empowering Indigenous Youth and their Communities to Defend and Promote their Food Heritage”. This project was implemented by Slow Food over three years in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico and Kenya and it is built on the leadership capacities of 325 indigenous youth. The grant has received IFAD internal awards for its people-centred approach of connecting and motivating people to bring about behavioural change.
Thus, IFAD and Slow Food have built a strong partnership based on trust with the shared vision of supporting small-scale, diversified production and consumption mechanisms that focus on improving the marketing of local products reflected on principles of quality, biodiversity and environmental conservation.