09 September 2021, Rome: More investments in innovations and knowledge are urgently needed to increase the ability of rural people to adapt to climate change and shocks, said Jyotsna Puri, a long-time advocate for climate change adaptation and evidence-based policy and big data, who today takes up the position of Associate Vice President of the Strategy and Knowledge Department at the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
“The world is at a crossroad. Current systems – whether food, health or others – are failing to deliver desired outcomes for the climate and the environment, for nutrition and human health, and for social welfare and decent livelihoods,” said Puri.
As an Indian national, Puri feels her background gives her an advantage: she is able to recognize the large potential in developing countries. “Although they are very varied, developing countries, such as India, are leaders in locally innovative solutions in development and the climate,” said Puri. “International organisations need to leverage the technical capacity and strong data systems in developing countries far better.”
Puri takes up her new position at a critical time, when erratic climate patterns are negatively impacting food production and rural livelihoods across the globe. Small-scale rural farmers are highly vulnerable to the impacts of changing weather, yet the world depends on them to produce about a third of its food. In 2020, there was an increase in global hunger as a result of climate change, conflict, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, with one in ten people not having enough to eat, particularly in rural areas.
To help respond to this, Puri brings to her new position more than 20 years of experience in strategic thinking, and rigorous evidence and development policy in agriculture, environment, health and infrastructure-related poverty alleviation. In 2019, the Global Landscapes Forum recognized her as one of 16 women global leaders leading the work on restoring the earth.
In her previous role as IFAD’s Director of the Environment, Climate, Gender and Social Inclusion Division, Puri was responsible for ensuring that IFAD’s programmes build in social, environmental and climate safeguards while guaranteeing its investments generate benefits in these areas. Prior to this, she held various leadership positions at the Green Climate Fund, the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), UNEP, the World Bank and UNDP. She is also adjunct associate professor at Columbia University, New York, where she was a research scientist.
In her new role, she will lead the team that provides expert guidance on IFAD’s strategic direction, thematic priorities and technical quality of the organization’s investments and operations.
“I will ensure that IFAD’s technical knowledge and strategies focus on how IFAD, working with partners, can deliver the greatest impact to increase rural communities’ ability to adapt to climate change and shocks, and develop innovative solutions to make them resilient, all the while insisting on credibility and measured results,” she said.