Institutional Event

Harvesting Hope: Ensuring a Food Secure, Climate Resilient Asia and the Pacific

Thursday, 2 May 2024, 9:00 am - 10:00 am (Asia/Tbilisi)
Radisson Blu Iveria, Ballroom 3



Abul Hassan Mahmood AliGovernor for Bangladesh, ADB; and Finance Minister, Bangladesh 

Abul Hassan Mahmood Ali has served as a parliamentarian and cabinet minister for Bangladesh, including as foreign minister from 2013 to 2019 and as minister of disaster management and relief from 2012 to 2013. Mr. Ali earned his BA with honors and an MA degree in economics from Dhaka University. His diplomatic career began when he joined the Pakistan Foreign Service (including Bangladesh) in 1966. Mr. Ali actively participated in the Bangladesh Liberation War, representing the provisional government in the US. He has held various diplomatic positions and contributed significantly to Bangladesh’s foreign relations.

Glenn DenningProfessor of Professional Practice, School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), Columbia University 

Glenn Denning joined SIPA in 2009 as founding director of the Master of Public Administration in Development Practice, a joint undertaking of SIPA with Columbia University’s Earth Institute. He held senior roles at the International Rice Research Institute, the World Agroforestry Centre, and the Earth Institute. He served on the UN Millennium Project Hunger Task Force and the Technical Advisory Committee of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program. He is the author of Universal Food Security: How to End Hunger While Protecting the Planet (Columbia University Press, 2023).

Garrett KilroyPrincipal Evaluation Specialist, Sector and Project Division, Independent Evaluation Department, ADB 

Garrett Kilroy has been with the ADB Independent Evaluation Department since 2015 and leads evaluations of ADB’s climate change, environment, agriculture, and water and urban development operations. He has been based in Asia since 2008, working with several development organizations. Prior to that he was with the Irish Environmental Protection Agency and holds an honors degree in environmental sciences and a PhD in hydrogeology from Trinity College Dublin.

Purnima MenonSenior Director for Food and Nutrition Policy, CGIAR and International Food Policy Research Institute

Purnima Menon co-leads the CGIAR Transforming Agrifood Systems in South Asia initiative. She has extensive research experience on nutrition policy, and evaluating large-scale programs in nutrition, agriculture, gender, technology, and health. Her contributions to the field are reflected in over 200 peer-reviewed publications and an impressive H-index of 62. Notably, she has played a pivotal role in major agenda-setting academic collaborations, including Lancet Series on Nutrition, Countdown to 2030, the Global Nutrition Report, and more. Ms. Menon has a PhD in international nutrition from Cornell University, an MSc in nutrition from University of Delhi, and has research experience in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Ethiopia, Haiti, and Vietnam.

Ramesh SubramaniamDirector General and Chief, Sectors Group, ADB

Ramesh Subramaniam has been with ADB for over 26 years. He oversees the work of the Sectors Group to deliver all lending and technical assistance operations in seven sectors across the Asia and Pacific region in coordination with all regional, private sector-related, and other support departments within ADB. Trained as an economist, his work at ADB has focused on economic policy reforms, infrastructure financing, and urban development. He established the ASEAN Policy Network and the Green Finance Hub, and oversaw ADB’s efforts to help Southeast Asian countries overcome the adverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. He is passionate about helping developing countries avoid and overcome economic crises as well as manage disasters caused by natural hazards. Mr. Subramaniam has served on various Global Future Councils of the World Economic Forum since 2012, including as co-chair of the its Sustainable Development Investment Partnership ASEAN Hub.

Bertrand WalkenaerDeputy CEO, Agence Française de Développement 

Bertrand Walckenaer is the deputy CEO of the Agence Française de Développement since February 2019. Prior to this role, he served as the chief of staff to France's state secretary for economy and finance. With a decade of experience at the French Treasury, Mr. Walckenaer has held various positions related to corporate restructuring, export finance in the aeronautics sector, and foreign investment control. He also served on the boards of Bpifrance, La Poste, and CNP Assurances. During this period he moved for 2 years to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, where he was deputy chief of staff of the state secretary for foreign trade.

Qingfeng ZhangSenior Director, Agriculture, Food, Nature, and Rural Development, Sectors Group, ADB 

Qingfeng Zhang leads and oversees ADB’s overall rural development, natural resources, food security, and agriculture operations. During his 20 years in ADB, he has worked on projects on like water resources management, green agricultural value chains, efficient use of natural resources, climate resilient agriculture, rural renewable biomass energy, healthy agriculture-ecosystems, food safety, and internet plus agriculture. He has authored numerous publications on these topics. Prior to joining ADB, he served as director at the State Environmental Protection Administration in Beijing, Senior Environment Specialist at the World Bank, and was a research fellow at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.


Emmanuel JimenezDirector General, Independent Evaluation Department, ADB 

Emmanuel Jimenez leads the Independent Evaluation Department’s efforts at assessing ADB’s development effectiveness and providing lessons to inform ADB operations. Before joining ADB, Mr. Jimenez was the executive director and CEO of the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation from 2015 to 2020, where he provided strategic direction, raised resources, and managed a global team. Prior to that, from 1984 to 2014 he held several senior management roles in the World Bank Group. Mr. Jimenez brings over 30 years of experience in evaluation, policy advice, and research in economic development.

This session discussed ways in which development partners can respond to the challenge of climate change and food security in the Asia and Pacific region. The session opened with short presentations from the Sectors Group and IED highlighting both the progress and strategic direction of ADB on food security and climate, as well as findings and lessons learned from a recent evaluation of ADB support for rural development and food security. There followed a panel discussion with representatives from government, the research community, development partners, and ADB senior Management.

The discussion delved into the critical issues of food security, nutrition, climate change, and agricultural innovation. The discussions highlighted the importance of addressing these challenges through innovative financing mechanisms, collaborative efforts, and a multi-sectoral approach.

Key points raised included the need for increased productivity and innovation in agriculture to feed growing populations, which must be done in a manner that mitigates the impacts of climate change through lower carbon and resilient food systems. Speakers emphasized the significance of technical solutions and implementing diverse strategies to enhance food security. Successful initiatives in the region in agricultural development, water resource management, and livestock production were also highlighted.

The session underscored the role of financing and research in driving agricultural innovation and climate resilience. Debt-for-nature swaps and cofinancing agreements were highlighted as effective tools to mobilize resources for sustainable agriculture. The role of the private sector was seen as critical to leverage financial resources, drive innovation, and link local farmers to the value chain through agribusiness firms and retailers. The public sector has a key role in getting the policies right and addressing bottlenecks.

The discussions also touched upon the necessity of social protection measures, and investment in nutrition to address short-term and medium-term challenges in food security. Calories on their own are not sufficient; the quality of these calories in delivering safe and nutritious food was also seen as critical. Innovative financing, technological advancements, and holistic strategies were also deemed essential to achieve sustainable agricultural development and ensure food security for communities in the region.