A conversation with Nikita Eriksen-Hamel/Canada, GDPRD member

Nikita provides an overview of Canada’s development priorities as well as concrete examples of donor coordination at global and national levels.

Nikita Eriksen-Hamel

Deputy Director, Agriculture and Food Systems
Global Affairs Canada

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Nikita Eriksen-Hamel is the Deputy Director of Agriculture and Food Systems for Global Affairs Canada, and a long-time member of the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development.

Secretariat/Michelle Tang: What could you tell us about Canada's development priorities in agriculture, rural development, and food systems?

Nikita Eriksen-Hamel: The Feminist International Assistance Policy (FIAP) is Canada's international development assistance policy framework, promoting gender equality and women's empowerment as our principal objective. Our programming in agriculture and food systems promotes the implementation of policies and approaches, supporting women's rights and empowerment in agrifood systems such as adopting climate, smart agriculture or access to productive resources and agricultural finance.

Canada embraces a food systems approach in its programming to improve how development assistance addresses women's empowerment, climate change, biodiversity loss, hunger, malnutrition, inclusive growth and above all, poverty reduction. This approach takes into consideration inclusion and equity objectives and has a particular focus on vulnerable groups.

Responding to the global food crisis remains a top priority for Canada and a consistent focus of our minister’s interventions, briefings, and announcements. We're very concerned about the recent shocks on vulnerable populations and where it exacerbates high food prices. We're working to strengthen the resilience of these populations and agree food systems need to be better prepared for future shocks.

Canada's priorities will be to work on climate smart agriculture, sustainable agrifood value chains, inclusive food system, governance, and productive safety nets.

Canada embraces a food systems approach in its programming to improve how development assistance addresses women's empowerment, climate change, biodiversity loss, hunger, malnutrition, inclusive growth and above all, poverty reduction.

Secretariat/Monique Amar: As we continue to confront multiple global crises, how is Canada working with other donors and partners to address both short-term humanitarian needs and building long term resilience for rural populations?

Nikita: In the last three years, Canada has invested more than CAD$1.5 billion in food security and agrifood system projects, supporting development partners from governments to farmers, civil society organizations and multilateral organizations.

In 2022, Canada provided a record CAD$650 million in humanitarian food and nutrition assistance to address the urgent food security needs of vulnerable populations, with a focus on ensuring women and girls, in areas of food crisis, have access to enough nutritious and affordable food.

In bilateral country programs, we engage in many agricultural government donor groups. We also join multi-donor efforts to advance country-level policy dialogue or joint programming.

When we see other donors doing a great job and supporting the successful development efforts of our government partners, we join in their efforts through “delegated cooperation”. Canada provides direct funding to another donor to manage these partnerships. We've had delegated cooperation projects with donors like Germany, the Netherlands, and the U.S. on irrigation, landscape management and capacity building.

For example, Canada provided CAD$75 million in delegated cooperation to GIZ and is working with Kfw Development Bank on a small-scale irrigation project in Mali to provide construction and rehabilitation of infrastructure. Working with Germany has strengthened our policy dialogue with the government.

Multilaterally, Canada values the partnerships with and the expertise of our donor partners. We work collaboratively in advancing key agrifood issues at the boards and governing councils of our multilateral partners. Examples include working with other donors on the reform of One CGIAR and on joint advocacy to advance policy issues of common interest. We've seen significant improvements in the policies of our agrifood multilateral institutions on gender equality, climate change and biodiversity.

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Nikita Eriksen-Hamel | Global Affairs Canada, GDPRD Member. This video is from a recording of the interview, conducted by the Secretariat of the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development in April 2023.

Michelle: What are the emerging challenges and opportunities that Canada is focusing on? How do we truly achieve a paradigm shift in how donors look at food systems, particularly in financing for development assistance?

Nikita: First is appreciating the dynamics of change. We need to embrace that most situations where we work will be affected by shocks. We need to build resilience in agrifood systems to climate, agronomic and economic shocks.

Second is appreciating the power of a food systems approach. We call for collaboration across sectors and among the development community and donors to develop and implement evidence-based and innovative solutions on issues related to climate change, biodiversity loss, environmental degradation, gender equality and governance. The Donor Platform has been instrumental in contributing to this policy dialogue.

We've seen significant progress of improved donor dialogue. The successful negotiation of the Kunming Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) is one of the most significant convergences of global policy since the SDGs in 2015 because the GBF exemplifies the use of a food systems approach. The targets and actions implicate a range of agrifood actors from farmers and foresters to agricultural businesses and policymakers responsible for agricultural subsidies, bringing them together with climate and biodiversity actors to achieve common development and environmental goals.

This paradigm shift will come once we fully embrace the food systems approach and build resilience to future shocks.rotect the planet.

Canada values the partnerships with and the expertise of our donor partners. We work collaboratively in advancing key agrifood issues at the boards and governing councils of our multilateral partners.

Monique: Through your ongoing engagement with the Donor Platform, what is the recipe to keeping the Platform useful for its members? What is its biggest value for the donor community?
Nikita: I've had the privilege of being engaged with the GDPRD for 15 years and the Platform has done a great job in offering services and knowledge of value to donors. Donors will always differ in interests and ability to engage but the core purpose of the Platform should remain improving the effectiveness of development assistance for donors.

An important consideration is supporting frank, open and genuine dialogue among donors. In-person events used to provide informal opportunities to raise questions, provide feedback, and share information. We hope the Platform will continue to provide these safe places for donors to learn from each other.

Michelle: What gives you hope for this year?
Nikita: I have hope we're seeing a convergence of global policy frameworks. Land degradation was the purview of the United Nations Convention on Combat Desertification (UNCCD) but is now central to biological diversity and within the new global biodiversity framework. The issue of soil carbon sequestration, central to carbon markets, is now an important tool for the Climate Change Convention, UNFCCC.

There's hope these actors will finally converge around common evidence-based high impact approaches so we can work together to protect the planet.

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