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SUSTAIN is an initiative of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to raise awareness and strengthen the capacities of national ministries engaged in rural development to meet environmental, social and climate standards (ESC) and contribute to equitable, socially inclusive, and environmentally sustainable rural transformation.


SUSTAIN goes beyond designing and delivering trainings: it is a participatory initiative that connects people to foster exchange, knowledge sharing, and learning.


There is growing recognition that the lack of integration of ESC standards in rural development programs has severe adverse impact on the environment and people’s lives and rights, creates risks for development partners, and jeopardizes achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


For IFAD, it is important to prevent risks that might arise from projects it supports. Therefore, governments need to ensure projects meet the standards and requirements set out in IFAD’s Social, Environmental and Climate Assessment Procedures (SECAP). These procedures are often perceived as complex and demanding, and many partners may face challenges to meet all SECAP requirements.

To address these challenges, SUSTAIN works across the following three components, ensuring local ownership at every step, by involving the different target audiences in the design of the training and the accompanying knowledge sharing activities:

Participatory development of Capacity Building Program on ESC standards 

Designing learning curricula in collaboration with members of project management units (PMUs) based on IFAD’s SECAP. 

Delivery of Capacity Building

 Implementing customized online and in-person trainings, alongside the creation of a network of trainers to train and support peers. 

Communities of Practice for knowledge sharing and engagement 

Exchanging ESC safeguarding knowledge, while also building a sustainable community of agents of change for sharing and joint learning.


SUSTAIN directly addresses 59 low-income and lower-middle-income countries, including fragile countries, in the Asia and Pacific, East and Southern Africa, and West and Central Africa regions. Additionally, the communities of practice and networks of SUSTAIN will have a global outreach.


SUSTAIN will provide training and certification to government staff from project management units, key sector ministries, and ESC regulatory bodies, as well as consultants, contractors, and Non-Sovereign Operations (NSOs). In addition to these planned 600 trained participants, the community of practice will include a range of additional experts and institutions and access to materials and online events will be given to a global community of interested stakeholders.

SUSTAIN is an IFAD initiative implemented by HELVETAS together with regional and national service providers around the world.


The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is an International Financial Institution and specialized United Nations agency that focusses on reducing poverty and food insecurity by investing in rural people for agricultural and rural development. 

HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation

A learning-oriented INGO focused on poverty reduction of Disadvantaged Groups through project implementation, capacity development and advocacy. Helvetas has offices in over 30 developing and transition countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.