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Agriculture, Water and Investment

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Agriculture is on the frontlines of nearly all urgent global challenges, from hunger to climate change to rising inequality.

We provide high-quality advice to governments to help transform public and private investment into a vehicle for change: strengthening food security and livelihoods, while protecting land rights and responsibly managing natural resources.

Over 800 million people go to bed hungry every night, 70 per cent of whom live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Agriculture provides a livelihood for more people globally than any other sector, representing almost 50 per cent of total employment in poor countries. Investment in agriculture has a greater poverty reduction effect—especially amongst the poorest people—than investment in any other sector.

This is why increased investment in agriculture and food systems in low- and middle-income countries is desperately needed. When done right, increased investment can help boost production, generate employment, increase incomes and promote economic development. But when done badly, it can exacerbate existing inequalities, undermine the livelihoods of small farmers, particularly women, and significantly deplete land, water, soil and other natural resources.

Ensuring positive impacts from foreign investment requires robust policies, laws and practices. IISD works with governments and policy-makers to build the laws and policies needed to maximize the benefits—and minimize the risks—of foreign investment.

We also work to improve the flow of public investment to agriculture. We joined forces with the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) to measure the scale of public spending needed to end hunger. We found that it will cost an extra USD 11 billion per year from now until 2030 to largely eradicate hunger, a central part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Along with IFPRI and Cornell University we have now embarked on a new project, CERES 2030: Sustainable solutions to end hunger, which combines state-of-the-art modelling techniques with expert evidence to build consensus on the best way to end hunger sustainably, with costs and effective solutions.

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