Catalysing change and harmonizing impact: 20 years of donor coordination

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2023 was a milestone year for the GDPRD as we celebrated our 20th anniversary.

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Tristan Armstrong

Former GDPRD Co-Chair, 2021-2023, Australia
20 years was that moment to reflect and ask what’s next, how the world has changed, and whether our strategies are fit for purpose and are addressing key issues."
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Conrad Rein Gdp

Conrad Rein

Former GDPRD Co-Chair, 2020–2023, European Commission
I hope GDPRD members will become even more involved and see the Donor Platform as an important tool for coordination, for better impact on the ground and for improving the livelihoods of millions of people.”
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Federica Degaetano Ar2023

Federica de Gaetano

Current GDPRD Co-Chair, Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (AICS)
I have been following the GDPRD since the beginning of my career in food security. Knowledge sharing and networking among members and stakeholders are very useful for my daily work in a donor agency and keep me up-to-date on current issues."
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The aid and development landscape has changed significantly over the past two decades.

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GDPRD milestones

The GDPRD’s 20th anniversary was an opportunity to reflect on these issues and consider the Platform’s role in supporting donors to respond more effectively. View our history.

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A specially commissioned background paper catalysed discussions on shifting donor approaches to food systems and rural development.

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The 2023 Annual General Assembly (AGA) discussed the evolution of the aid effectiveness agenda and emerging trends shaping official development assistance (ODA) in food systems and rural development.

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Bruce Campbell

Current GDPRD Co-Chair, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC)
GDPRD members have a common denominator in terms of values, views and objectives. This makes it possible to work productively on approaches in a more informal way than in the fora of multilateral mechanisms.”
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20 years of bringing donors together

  • 2003: GDPRD founded by the World Bank, Germany’s BMZ, FAO, the Canadian International Development Agency, the Netherlands and IFAD. BMZ and FAO served as Co-Chairs.
  • 2005: Adoption of the Platform Governance Charter and establishment of the Steering Committee.
  • 2006: First GDPRD AGA in Brussels.
  • 2007: Introduction of the Platform Charter, formation of the Board, and selection of the Steering Committee and Chairs.
  • 2009: L’Aquila Summit on Food Security, convened in Italy by the G8, leads to the initiation of a UN task force addressing food security challenges.
  • 2020: AGA shapes GDPRD’s contributions to the UNFSS. IFAD hosts the GDPRD Secretariat.
  • 2023: 20th anniversary of the GDPRD.

2023 was an action-packed
year for the Donor Platform

Platform highlights

Board Members

Australia, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the European Commission, Finland, France, Germany, International Fund for Agricultural Development, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States

Global Donor Working Group on Land meetings

Thematic Working Group on Rural Youth Employment meetings

Sustainable Development Goal Two Roadmap Working Group meetings

From strategy to action: Key events in 2023


In 2023, we continued to respond proactively to emerging issues through the activities of three new workstreams on sustainable and blended finance, donor coordination and data.

These areas are interconnected and improvements in all three are needed to move beyond reactive crisis response and build long-term resilience in the global food system. This approach reflects a more strategic and results-focused engagement with the food and rural development agenda.

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Sustainable and blended finance

Every dollar of donor investment can trigger four times that amount in commercial financing. By leveraging blended mechanisms and innovative funds, we can unleash the catalytic power of public resources to drive transformative change in food systems and rural development.

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Carin Smaller

Shamba Centre for Food & Climate
We need an extra US$330 billion to end hunger without harming the environment by 2030. This decade, our challenge is to use the catalytic power of governments and donors to unleash the financial power of capital markets for the benefit of everyone."
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Andrea Zinn

Aceli Americas, Aceli Africa
The private sector needs to step in, but it’s particularly challenging to invest in agriculture. We’ve seen success stories when donors step in to make financing more effective, realistic and affordable so that investors can cover the high transaction costs and risks in agriculture.”
Read the interview

This workstream explores ways in which donors, philanthropic organizations and public funds are:

  • leveraging their funding for greater impact
  • increasing allocations to food systems from thematic programmes on climate, nature, gender and SMEs
  • working with private capital to providers to increase investment in sustainable food systems
  • assessing the performance and “additionality” of blended capital funds.

In 2023, the GDPRD and the Shamba Centre for Food & Climate completed an enquiry into how donors, philanthropic organizations, public funds and blended capital funds can make their funding more effective to achieve SDG 2. (See full list of stakeholders engaged)

Our official side event at the UNFSS+2 Stocktaking Moment on 24 July 2023 explored how donors and public funds are working continuously to enhance the impact of their investments to achieve the SDGs and transform food systems.

The enquiry’s findings were presented and discussed at our 51st Session of the Committee on World Food Security side event on 23 October 2023 and a High-Level Session on Sustainable Finance: Making donor funding more catalytic at the AGA.

The final report, Unleashing the Catalytic Power of Donor Financing to Achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2, was released in March 2024. It presents a unique opportunity for donors, development finance institutions and their beneficiaries in developing countries to make widespread changes by implementing its recommendations.

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Donor coordination for food systems transformation

In the coming years, donors will need to balance short-term crisis response with investments that support longer-term development and resilience. Donor resources will need to be optimized through greater policy coherence and coordination, to create resilient and secure food systems for the future.


Juan Echanove

Food and Water Systems, CARE
Donors have their own agendas, and those agendas often are contradictory. We must create a space of mutual trust for donors to talk to each other, negotiate and, in principle, be able to join forces together. The most important thing to me is that the processes are driven by the governments of the recipient countries.”
Read the interview
Iris Krebber

Iris Krebber

Former GDPRD Co-Chair, UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office
We need to look at what is realistic and how we shift towards agriculture being part of the solution. The average person on the street needs to understand what this is about and what can be done, and then engage with political decision makers to get it done. Not in 50 years’ time, but from now."
Read the interview

Nadine Gbossa

International Fund for Agricultural Development, and United Nations Food Systems Coordination Hub
To improve donor coordination on food systems, we must work harder to ensure that donors and teams in country have a shared understanding of what a food systems approach means concretely and of its vital value for the people and the planet. Talking to people, I realize that one of the main challenges we still face is that, for too many people, food systems transformation remains an abstract concept.”
Read the interview

This workstream unpacks the challenges countries face in addressing the national pathways for food systems transformation, explores how donors and development partners can better coordinate their assistance at the country level, and identifies key areas such as data, finance and policy innovation where coordination is most needed.

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Better data for food systems and rural development

In 2022, the 50th session of the Committee on World Food Security called for better and more harmonized data and its widespread use in setting policies.

From the event “Assessing the Data ‘Quantum’ Leap in Agriculture and Food Systems”
Our thinking is based on past centralized data systems. What we’ve been working on will not solve the problems of the future. As we try to build a 747 or an A350 [a big jet], we should consider that the future is going to look something more like drones.”
From the event “Assessing the Data ‘Quantum’ Leap in Agriculture and Food Systems"
Bringing together data from governments, product traceability systems and environmental, social and governance analysis … introduces enormous integration challenges and requires clear and common rules for data formatting and entry.”

This workstream is working towards an action plan for the data community, focused on improving information sharing, convening dialogues and workshops to advocate data use in decision-making, and strengthening country capacity.

The event Assessing the Data “Quantum” Leap in Agriculture and Food Systems on 13 February 2023, together with the European Commission, IFAD and the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data, took stock of current data initiatives on agriculture and food security. 

Following the event, the GDPRD published a report, New Strategic Directions for Data in Agriculture and Food Systems, presenting the event’s deliberations and key findings.

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Annual General Assembly: 20 years of rural development and aid effectiveness


H.E. Jeanine M. Cooper

Minister of Agriculture, Republic of Liberia
Impact … is not felt at the level of beautiful documents that are shared, but in how you move the needle and shift the reality of the lives of rural people and all of the people in the food systems.”

Discussions explored the potential of food systems approaches to reinvigorate rural development, the importance of enhanced access to data and information for land governance and secure tenure, innovative strategies for donor funding in food systems, and the opportunities presented by mechanical and technical jobs for rural youth.

Setting the scene of the AGA discussions by Brian Baldwin, Senior Advisor to the GDPRD, Development and Agricultural Policy Advisor.

In the High-Level Session on Food Systems Approaches and Shifting Development Agendas, H.E. Jeanine M. Cooper, Minister of Agriculture, Republic of Liberia, emphasized the need for peace and stability for development. 

Breakout sessions examined key issues that will shape donors’ work in the coming decade: 

  • food security and nutrition
  • environment, climate change and biodiversity
  • aid effectiveness, coordination and alignment
  • conflict, resilience and fragility. 

Conclusions fed into a panel discussion that explored how and why donors need to rethink the way that they work. 

Mia Beers, Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Resilience, Environment, and Food Security (USAID) noted that multiple crises – conflict, climate change, COVID-19 pandemic compounded by inflation and rising interest rates – have pushed more communities into hunger and multiplied the challenges for those seeking to help them. She argued that to avoid further crises, which could reverse a decade of progress, more donor coordination and continuing commitment to systemic change is needed.

Special sessions at the AGA focused on sustainable financeland governance and rural youth employment, highlighting new and emerging strategies and approaches by donors. 

High-Level Session on Sustainable Finance: Carin Smaller and Oshani Perera presented the findings of a study by the Shamba Centre and the GDPRD, into ways to make donor funding more catalytic.

Reflecting on the discussions at the AGA and the implications for donors, Maximo Torero Cullen, Chief Economist at FAO, urged donors to focus their efforts on the places where need is greatest. 

Read the summary report.

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The discussions highlighted the continued relevance of the GDPRD as a space where donors can shape coordinated and harmonized approaches to emerging crises.

The GDPRD continues to provide a space for thematic working groups to improve donor coordination in three priority areas.

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The Global Donor Working Group on Land

Land governance and secure tenure are crucial preconditions for addressing a range of SDGs, including food and nutrition security, economic development, and peace and stability.


Gemma Betsema

Netherlands Enterprise Agency
Good land governance policies and practices positively contribute to and create an enabling environment for achieving a wide range of development objectives and most of the SDGs. Substantially scaling these efforts requires coordinated multi-stakeholder action and an integrated approach of land within food security and climate programming, as well as within rule of law and sustainable economic development approaches."

Karol Boudreaux

United States Agency for International Development
There remains an enormous implementation gap to close around land rights, to address discriminatory social norms and support the equal rights of women, youth, Indigenous people and migrants to access, use and benefit from land. We have the opportunity to work collaboratively for another 10 years of progress on good land governance.”


Gemma Betsema, Netherlands Enterprise Agency

Chantal Wieckardt, Netherlands Enterprise Agency

Land governance and secure tenure are crucial preconditions for addressing a range of SDGs, including food and nutrition security, economic development, and peace and stability. Highlights in 2023 include:

  • A special session on Land Governance Tools and Approaches in Support of Climate Action at the AGA on 26 October 2023, highlighting the role of land tenure and governance issues in realizing climate goals.
  • A special session on Land Governance Tools and Approaches in Support of Climate Action at the AGA on 26 October 2023, highlighting the role of land tenure and governance issues in realizing climate goals.
  • Involvement in the Global Land Agenda, towards more coordinated action for raising the importance of land globally, to mobilize new, concrete and visible political commitments.
  • Create a global forum on tenure security for dialogue and strategic direction; establish an accountability mechanism to track progress; and catalyse and increase funding for tenure security.
  • An updated Land Portal database, now with a data set of 3,871 projects that combine data from Land Portal’s projects database, the former GDWGL’s Land Governance Programme Map and the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI).
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The Thematic Working Group on Rural Youth Employment

Established in 2018, the group seeks to support youth in finding their rightful place in rural economies.


Frank Bertelmann

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
The promotion of green jobs for young people in agrifood systems can play a crucial role as a connecting element for linking with other global agendas like climate change and for a just transition.”

Elisenda Estruch Puertas

International Labour Organization
We are committed to translating the voices of youth into concrete action that responds to their needs and goals. This is key to boosting decent job creation for youth in rural areas and addressing the many decent work deficits they face. In this respect, I want to highlight the importance of social dialogue and a rights-based approach in promoting rural youth employment.”
Read the interview

Sven Braulik

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)
Young people are key actors for the future, for innovation, climate action and building more sustainable food systems; thus, investing in youth is a triple-win strategy.”


Elisenda Estruch Puertas, International Labour Organization

Frank Bertelmann, GIZ

Sven Braulik, GIZ

Creating decent employment and income opportunities for rural youth and engaging them in policy processes is key to making them agents of change in rural economies. In 2023, the group celebrated its fifth anniversary.

Highlights in 2023 include:

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SDG 2 Roadmap Working Group

An informal group of senior officials from different donor agencies that share a common vision for eliminating rural poverty, hunger and malnutrition through sustainable agriculture.


Ammad Bahalim

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
The 50×2030 initiative and Ceres2030 report made valuable contributions to the UN Food Systems Summit, highlighting the critical importance of data and evidence-based approaches to donor investments in food systems.”

Ron Hartman

International Fund for Agricultural Development
We need to find ways of building resilience because we can’t afford, as a global community, a continued sort of humanitarian and emergency support. We try and catalyse our investments to influence policy to have an even greater impact on promoting sustainable food system transformation.”
Read more


Ammad Bahalim, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Sung Lee, United States Agency for International Development

More than 600 million people will remain chronically hungry worldwide by 2030. Achieving the goal of zero hunger by 2030 will require sustained commitment, investment and collaboration by governments, donors, the private sector, civil society and other actors at global, regional and national levels. The group works towards developing consensus among donors on a road map for achieving SDG 2.

Highlights in 2023 include:

Outreach And Communications

We amplified our member engagement and outreach through a dynamic social media presence in 2023. Key highlights include a new Instagram page to connect with a wider audience, interviews with members, and the promotion of flagship reports and events across various platforms. Read more.

The Donor Platform website underwent significant improvements, with new knowledge hubs and microsites for workstreams. User engagement soared, with website visits and unique visitors increasing by over 55% and 81% respectively. An expanded Food Systems Recommendations Database now includes 55 reports and a dashboard spotlighting featured, trending and latest reports.

Looking Ahead to 2024

Key activities planned for the year include a review of donor funding modalities at the country level, coordination gatherings ahead of significant global events (such as the G7, G20, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change COP and others), the establishment of a multi-donor working group on sustainable and blended financing in agriculture and food systems, and the organization of seminars and roundtables on various development topics.

The 2024 AGA will focus on the theme of financing food systems transformation and rural revitalization.

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Conrad Rein Gdp

Conrad Rein

Former Co-Chair, European Commission, 2020–2023
The GDPRD has provided a pivotal platform for facilitating formal and informal dialogues between key global players, including European Union members, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and others. These interactions, often operating under the Chatham House rules, have fostered a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose, transcending geopolitical boundaries."
Tristan Armstrong Gdp

Tristan Armstrong

Former Co-Chair 2021-2023 Australia
The success and effectiveness of the Platform hinge on the energy and passion invested by its Members, Board and Co-Chairs. If we [the GDPRD] want to make it to 40 years, we need to keep thinking and challenging ourselves and each other."

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The 2023 Annual Report of the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development (GDPRD) was produced by the GDPRD Secretariat in accordance with IFAD’s Guidelines for Publishing. The report was drafted by Mandakini D. Surie and graphically designed and laid out by Andrea Wöhr (WOERDESIGN). The digital report was created by Marco Schiavone, Toni Guga and Caroline Almeida of Schiavone & Guga. Photo credits: Cover: ©IFAD/Nguyen Hoang Sanh. Panels: ©IFAD/Ueslei Marcelino | ©IFAD/Barbara Gravelli | ©IFAD/Imani Nsamila | ©IFAD/Jjumba Martin | ©IFAD/ Didor Sadulloev | ©IFAD/Ueslei Marcelino | ©IFAD/Roger Anis

© 2024 Secretariat of the Global Donor Platform for Rural Development, hosted by IFAD.