Building capacity to help Africa trade better

Adesina addresses need to end rural poverty at One World conference in Berlin


Adesina addresses need to end rural poverty at One World conference in Berlin

Adesina addresses need to end rural poverty at One World conference in Berlin
Photo credit: UNICEF | Tremeau

The President of the African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has called for urgent action to end rural poverty in Africa at a conference on the future of the rural world in Berlin.

“We must pay particular attention to three factors: extreme rural poverty, high rates of unemployment among the youths and climate and environmental degradation – what I refer to as the ‘disaster triangle’,” Adesina told participants during a keynote speech delivered on Thursday, 27 April at the ‘One World, No Hunger: Future of the Rural World’ conference hosted by the German Development Ministry (BMZ).

Noting that conflicts and terrorism easily take root where these three factors exist, Adesina stressed the imperative of investing heavily in Africa's rural areas and reversing endemic misery to prosperity. “We must create jobs for the youths and disrupt terrorists’ recruitments that are taking root in these rural areas.... We must connect economic security, food security and climate security,” he said.

The AfDB President shared the Bank’s efforts in rural economies including the investment of US $24 billion in agriculture in the next 10 years and in several other domains through its ambitious multi-billion High 5 priorities – Light up and power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

He reiterated the Bank’s strong support for Germany’s Compact with Africa and its focus on food security, energy, jobs, infrastructure, peace and security, which are very much in line with the High 5s.

For his part, German Development Minister Gerd Müller noted that “Only strong rural areas will be able to prevent hunger crises in the future and offer truly good prospects to young people.”

He welcomed 150 young people from Germany, Africa and various G20 countries, who were invited to speak at the conference noting that “the future of humankind will be decided in the world's rural areas!”

Germany is using its current Presidency of the G20 to work towards the adoption of concrete agreements on fostering youth employment in rural areas. Participants will endorse the Berlin Charter on Creating Opportunities for the Young Generation in the Rural World at the end of the conference.

Key participants at the forum include Bangladeshi Nobel Peace Prize laureate Muhammad Yunus; Sudanese-British entrepreneur-philanthropist Mo Ibrahim; Nigerian entrepreneur-philanthropist Tony Elumelu; the Head of German Federal Chancellery, Peter Altmaier; and Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt.

Berlin Charter*

Creating Opportunities with the Young Generation in the Rural World

Call for Action

We, participants of the Berlin conference “ONE World No Hunger. Future of the Rural World”, coming from civil society, private and public sector and academia, express this call for action and encourage governments worldwide, the German Government and G20 as well as the United Nations to identify effective ways to monitor progress, facilitate implementation of these proposals and accept accountability. We underline that many actions require new partnerships between governments, civil society, private sector actors and development partners, and we structure this call for action accordingly. Aiming for transformative change, we call on the G20 governments to commit to significant, quantified and time-bound targets in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and in particular:

  1. to lift at least 600 million people out of hunger and undernutrition by 2025 with appropriate agricultural, nutrition and anti-poverty policies. At the same time the malnutrition of hidden hunger affecting about 2 billion people because of micronutrient deficiencies is to be significantly reduced, and the investment in capacity for sound monitoring of this malnutrition by the specialised organisations be accelerated. It is noted that G7 had already made a commitment in 2015 to lift 500 Million out hunger and malnutrition; and address rising rates of overweight and obesity

  2. to take concerted political and humanitarian actions to immediately end the food crises situations in East Africa, the Horn of Africa and other locations of acute suffering; support agriculture actions that address droughts and climate change and the agenda of the African Malabo declaration on agriculture;

  3. to facilitate access to innovative education and youth training for all by 2025 by increased investments in rural education, including vocational training for young entrepreneurs;

  4. to cut youth underemployment at least by half by 2025 through increased support of investment in rural infrastructure and services in rural areas combined with job creating active labour market policies at a large scale; as important measures to promote prosperity and reduce rural-urban inequality;

  5. to provide equitable and affordable access for all, especially youth in rural areas, to information and communication technologies (ICTs) and provide opportunity for peer to peer learning.

Some key issues need to be addressed jointly by all stakeholders. Therefore, we call on all national governments, development partners and finance institutions, the private sector, civil society and youth:

  1. to jointly draft development strategies with the participation of local stakeholders and communities, in particular youth and women, which implies an effective reinvestment in the knowledge base on changing rural livelihoods and statistical systems to inform evidence-based diagnoses, visions and objectives;

  2. to respect, protect and fulfil human rights, including the right to food, water and sanitation

  3. to undertake additional and scalable joint efforts for creating new rural opportunities with a special focus on decent and attractive jobs for the young generation, cutting under-employment of youth at least in half by 2025;

  4. to pursue a new long-term, enhanced development partnership between Europe and Africa at a large scale through a type of “Marshall Plan with Africa” as presented by the German Government;

  5. to realise the enormous potential of smallholders, family farms, pastoralists and small-scale fishers and the emerging processing and distribution sectors/small and medium enterprises through improvement of legal frameworks including land rights and rights to genetic resources, innovation, access to skills development, access to markets, infrastructure, services and finance, linkages to value adding processing in rural areas and risk reduction measures such as insurance systems; and acknowledge the transformative power of local organisation;

  6. to encourage education and media institutions to help improve the social image of farmers, pastoralist and fishers since both have been stamped with backwardness for a long time;

  7. to make smart and responsible use of appropriate ICTs to realise the potential of digitisation more systematically, without ignoring the challenges of unregulated digitisation. That includes ICT-based service platforms in rural areas for agricultural extension services, open source local innovation and knowledge databases, business connections and mobile banking;

  8. to reverse on-going trends concerning the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems, effectively implement the Paris Agreement with regard to climate change. Drought-affected areas need particular support to overcome food insecurity, irreversible deterioration of the natural resource base and the disintegration of rural communities. Sustainable management of water resources warrants particular attention.

We call on bilateral and multilateral development partners

  1. to honour the above-cited global commitments as guiding policies, and to monitor and implement plans in line with these commitments;

  2. to work towards fair trade and agricultural policies that do not undermine the role of small-scale farmers in providing local and global food security;

  3. to align their technical and financial support with country-led policies and programmes tailored to local diversified needs and risk-taking capacities;

  4. to increase investments in rural and inter-regional infrastructure, especially transportation, energy, irrigation, and ICTs; and to focus on high-impact investments for innovation and jobs by bilateral and multilateral partners in cooperation with local development organisations; to integrate development efforts and build on existing mechanisms to ensure coherence and sustainability;

  5. to allocate increased proportions of ODA to rural development, including the promotion of education and jobs and the improvement of rural life, and to develop a common reporting mechanism to track outcomes;

  6. to massively and immediately increase humanitarian aid and fulfil existing commitments in order to end the current hunger crises and food insecurity in emergency situations;

  7. to actively reach out to the private sector and non-governmental organisations to tap the innovation potential of the agricultural sector and to jointly work towards pro-poor growth in rural areas.

This call for action is based on our assessment of the challenges and opportunities that are outlined below in this Charter.

- - - - -

Opportunities and Challenges that Should Drive Action


Led by a consultative process culminating in the Berlin conference “ONE WORLD – No Hunger: Future of the Rural World” focusing on innovation, youth, and employment, this Charter was drafted by an international advisory committee composed of experts on rural development, civil society and the private sector. It builds upon the joint vision of shared responsibility across nations and societies for sustainable global development, as set out in the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

  • About 2 billion of the world’s population are under the age of 15. The 1.2 billion young people aged 15 to 24 living today constitute the largest young generation on the planet ever.

  • With high and growing global underemployment, young people are disproportionately hit by the lack of decent jobs. Youth unemployment rates are estimated to be 2 to 3 times higher than adult unemployment rates. 440 million young people will be entering the labour market between now and 2030 in Africa alone.

  • The youth as agents of change have an essential role to play in achieving the SDGs. Their great potential can improve scale, stability and impact of innovations for the development of the rural space. To unlock the potential of the young generations, their rights and different needs have to be recognised. Youth living in often neglected rural areas need to be linked to the opportunities of innovation and digitisation, and they need job opportunities.

Rural areas are changing as economic growth and broader structural transformation take place. Integrated development strategies that explicitly include smallholder farmers and particularly the young have the potential to offer great developmental prospects for current and future generations. There are no simple solutions: The rural challenges are divers and, therefore, the global agenda for action on rural change and innovation has to be equally diverse and complex, and adjusted to local circumstances.

This Charter shall:

  1. highlight ways to use the diversity, energy, creativity and innovative capacity of youth to seek local solutions to global challenges, foster inclusive rural transformation and ensure that no one is left behind;

  2. Stimulate a re-thinking of rural development in a globalising and urbanising world, recognising the costs of inaction in rural areas, including social tensions because of glaring inequalities;

  3. inspire and equip the young generation to take the initiative to contribute to overcoming the challenging situations created by past and current generations and contribute to more equity and development of the areas they live in – as individuals and collectively organised groups;

  4. contribute to realising basic human rights of children and youth in particular, and overcoming gender and social inequalities through the implementation and integration of the SDGs;

  5. remind policymakers and other stakeholders around the globe to live up to the expectations that the young populations naturally have, by investing in and fostering decent employment and other income-earning opportunities in rural areas, and offering the youth opportunities to pursue their dreams, get a fair share of developmental opportunities and to take advantage of entrepreneurial and innovative opportunities;

  6. stimulate coherent policies, incentives and investments that foster the sustainable use of natural resources, including water, soils, forests, fisheries and livestock, and protect the environment and agricultural biodiversity;

  7. reconfirm the significant past declarations and commitments, the goals of global regional and national policies and other multilateral agreements, especially fulfilling the promise of food security for all and implementing the commitments to address climate change. We emphasise that all these past commitments must be followed up upon more vigorously with implementation actions so that they do not just remain declarations;

  8. direct fresh attention to the forthcoming G20 processes towards bold, robust, and specific large scale solutions, advancing the global commitment set out in the 2030 Agenda to build dynamic, sustainable, innovative and people-centred economies, promoting youth employment and women’s economic empowerment.

* This is an extract only. Download the full Berlin Charter above.


Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Tel +27 21 880 2010