Combating hunger: Switzerland makes renewed contribution to CGIAR

Bern, 13.09.2019 - Climate change, land degradation and water scarcity increasingly affect agricultural production and food supply. Around 820 million people around the world suffer from hunger and malnutrition. The Federal Council decided at its meeting on 13 September 2019 to contribute CHF 33.1 million for the period 2020–21 to the CGIAR, previously known as the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. Through this contribution, as well as through its strong scientific expertise and the work of its universities, Switzerland is playing its part in efforts to find innovative solutions for high-quality food and sustainable natural resource management.

Despite progress made in combating hunger and malnutrition, since 2015 the number of people suffering from malnutrition and undernutrition has risen again, reaching more than 820 million in 2018. In many countries, climate change, land degradation and water scarcity create problems for agricultural production, economic development, the provision of food and sustainable development. The same is true for Switzerland, which imports 52% of its food, including many products from developing countries, such as everyday foodstuffs like bananas, rice and coffee.

To meet these challenges, Switzerland is investing in agricultural research. Part of that investment involves providing support to the CGIAR, in order to contribute to food security and the 2030 Agenda goal of eradicating poverty and hunger by 2030.

The CGIAR's work contributes to enhanced agricultural yields, and thereby ensures that millions of people – mostly in low-income countries – have access to adequate food that meets their nutritional needs. As a board member of the CGIAR, Switzerland plays an important part in the organisation's institutional reforms and its strategic orientation. It is particularly committed to ensuring that the CGIAR's research enhances agricultural production through agro-ecological methods, thereby supporting diversified and sustainable farming systems that preserve the environment and offer dignified living conditions for farmers. This also improves prospects for the local population, which contributes to tackling the root causes of irregular and forced migration.

Building upon the partnership between Switzerland and the CGIAR, Swiss scientific institutions carry out joint research projects, and thereby boost their expertise and innovation in agricultural research. For example, researchers at ETH Zurich and the CGIAR are currently working on a circular economy system that links cities with rural communities. Farmers get access to organic fertilisers produced from urban waste, which enables them to increase their production for urban populations, while at the same time solving some of their sanitation issues.

The CGIAR is a global partnership for agricultural research working in more than 80 countries. In collaboration with local scientists, it develops hundreds of innovations each year with the aim of enhancing the livelihoods of poor farmers. The CGIAR also grants researchers from around the world access to its gene banks for the major food crops. The CGIAR is one of the 15 priority organisations for Switzerland's engagement in multilateral development cooperation. For 2020 and 2021, the Federal Council approved an overall contribution of CHF 16.55 million per year, i.e. CHF 33.1 million over two years.

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