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Eight Questions & Answers for on Global Partnerships, China reforms, and Knowledge Sharing for poverty reduction

This is an extract of an interview of Mr Matteo Marchisio, Country Representative of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) in China, at on 2 May 2018.

I. The role of Global Partnerships to achieve global poverty reduction

1. Over the past 40 years, China has succeeded in lifting more than 700 million people out of poverty. How do you see China’s achievements in poverty reduction and its contribution to global poverty alleviation?

China's achievements in reducing poverty over the past 40 years are remarkable, if you think that 700 million people is roughly equivalent to the total population of Europe and the United States together.

If you consider that in 1990 there were about 1.8 billion people living in poverty, out of which 1.5 billion in Asia, and that today there are about 700 million people living in poverty, out of which about 300 million in Asia, you can clearly see China's contribution to poverty alleviation globally.

2. How can countries and the international organizations innovate partnerships in poverty reduction to eradicate poverty in the world?

Countries are ultimately responsible for pursuing the development (in broad sense) of their citizens: for defining the right set of development policies, identifying their development priorities, developing their development strategies, and allocating adequate resources to achieve their development objectives.

International organizations, and IFAD among them, can support countries in pursuing their development objectives in two ways.

First, because of their presence in several developing countries (IFAD for instance has 50 country offices and operations in more than 100 countries), they can facilitate the sharing of development experiences, lessons, best practices among developing countries, thus helping countries in learning from each other, capitalizing on development successes, and avoiding mistakes.

Second, international organizations can help the governments of developing countries in leveraging resources and partnerships (with other bilateral or multilateral development organizations, civil society, private sector, etc.) to support their development efforts.

II. The impact of China's "reform and opening-up" on China's poverty reduction

3. The 19th National Congress outlined China’s development blueprint for the coming decades. What do you make of the so-called “new era” that the country is trying to shift towards?

What China calls "new era" of development is a natural step in China's development.

For 40 years China successfully focused on lifting the population living in extreme poverty out of poverty.

Now that China is so close to achieve this goal (China is expected to eradicate rural poverty by 2020), it is moving to the next phase: ensuring not only that the poor segments of its society are finally out of extreme poverty, but that its entire population has decent standards of living; reducing the unbalances and inequalities between rural and urban areas, and between provinces; and sharing the successful experience of poverty reduction worldwide.

4. What are your comments on China's “reform and opening up” policy and its impact on the rest of the world over the last 40 years?

Certainly the land reform and the establishment of the Household Responsibility System, the gradual market liberalization, the opening-up to international trade and foreign investments – among other reforms, such as the fiscal and administrative decentralization, etc. (what is commonly known as "China's reform and opening-up") are at the basis of China's successful story in poverty reduction. China's impressive achievements in terms of poverty reduction significantly contributed to poverty reduction globally.

These reforms, if properly adjusted to each country' specific context, offer useful lessons on how China succeeded in reducing rural poverty that other developing countries can refer to in pursuing their developing goals.

5. China adheres to pursue development with its "door open wide". In your opinion, in what ways can IFAD strengthen cooperation with China? 

IFAD, as well as other international development organizations, through its extensive presence and experience in developing countries, can facilitate the dissemination of China' successful experiences on poverty reduction to other developing countries.

At the same time, as China develops, it does faces new and different development challenges: how to reduce inequalities, how to ensure environmental sustainability and food safety, how to balance rural and urban development, etc.

IFAD can share experiences and best practices from other countries, particularly upper-middle income countries (e.g. Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Turkey, the Balkans, etc.) that went through similar path of development and faced similar development challenges.

III. The role of knowledge sharing in poverty reduction

6. UN and its partners are working together to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and make sure no one is left behind. Since different countries are in different development stages, what remains to be done to ensure no country is left behind as the world progresses towards 2030?

Each country is responsible for attaining its development objectives, which are summarized by the Sustainable Development Goals. However, because each country is at a different stage of development, the path to achieve such development objectives would be different for each country, depending on the different stage of development and specific development challenges. The goal is the same, but the recipe to achieve the same goal is different for each country.

It is thus difficult to provide an answer that is valid for each country. Probably, a general message that could be applicable to each country is that eradicating poverty and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals is possible. China has demonstrated that it is possible to eradicate rural poverty. Such an achievement could set an example and inspire other countries.

7. How would you describe the role of knowledge sharing in poverty reduction? As part of the Global Poverty Reduction Online Knowledge Sharing Database project, what do you think of this platform?

The role of knowledge sharing in poverty reduction is often underestimated, but in fact it is paramount. There is no "hard" investment that can substitute the intangible value of knowing what works (or does not work), where, and why in pursuing development objectives.

In this regard, the Global Poverty Reduction Online Knowledge Sharing Database represents a useful tool to share information, approaches, experiences, lessons, best practices among developing countries on how to best achieve poverty reduction and sustainable development.

8. IFAD with six other organizations are launching the Global Solicitation and Challenge Prize on Best Practices campaign. What do you hope this event can achieve in terms of poverty reduction knowledge sharing?

We hope this event can contribute to draw attention from global partners and developing countries on the Platform and interest in sharing their knowledge through this Platform – and by doing this to contribute to achieve poverty reduction globally.

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