Enabling poor rural people
to overcome poverty



Rome , 16 February 2005

Mr Chairperson,
Mr President,
Mr Executive Director,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure for me to be here today and to have the opportunity to address you on behalf of FAO. Unfortunately, prior commitments have prevented the Director-General from attending personally, but he has asked me to convey to you his greetings and to assure you of our strong commitment to working closely with IFAD, and with WFP, in the shared fight against hunger and poverty.

I am particularly pleased to note that since the Director-General’s address to the Council just one year ago, FAO and IFAD have continued to broaden and deepen their collaboration.

Mr Chairperson,

I note that your agenda this year includes an interactive panel discussion on “Achieving the Millennium Development Goals - Rural Investment and Enabling Policy”. This theme will certainly illustrate the complementary mandates of FAO, IFAD and WFP and the close cooperation of our organizations.

The launch of the Millennium Project Report here in Rome last month, in fact, gave the three Rome-based United Nations agencies (FAO, IFAD and WFP) the opportunity to reaffirm the value of working together to realize the goals of the Millennium Declaration. During that event, a joint statement was issued in which we reiterated our commitment to enhance partnership and re-energize collaboration.

Our respective mandates link us most closely to the first Millennium Development Goal, that of reducing hunger and poverty by half. While there has been progress in some countries, globally over 850 million people remain chronically hungry. This number is now increasing after a decade of improvement. Hunger is not diminishing, it is on the rise. Each year, more than five million children die of causes directly related to malnutrition. I submit that this is a manifestation of the world community’s collective failure to put in place policies and programmes with long-term vision. Greater investments are needed - greater investments to increase agriculture production and to develop rural financial, marketing and other essential services, backed by appropriate policy measures. I urge you to keep this in mind when considering IFAD’s replenishment later this week. Overcoming poverty and hunger is not about maintaining the status quo. We must all do more. I hope that you will dig deep into your pockets in order to give IFAD the means to do more.

The MDGs can be realized only when poor, food-insecure people are supported in their struggle to emerge from hunger and poverty. Among the worst-off are those affected by recent natural disasters, and in particular the people who suffered from the floods and hurricanes in the Caribbean and Asia, from the locusts which devastated North-West Africa and the Sahel, and especially from the horrific Tsunami which swept through the Indian Ocean. These are prominent cases where FAO and IFAD have demonstrated the benefits of close working relations.  

For the desert locust emergency, IFAD Technical Assistance Grants of US$3 million were allocated so that FAO could help reinforce the monitoring of control measures and the assessment of their impact on the environment, as well as help develop a preventive locust control strategy based on biological control agents. On the response to the Tsunami emergency, close collaboration has been established especially between the Asia Division of IFAD’s Programme Management Department, and the Fisheries Department of FAO to share information and to complement each other’s initiatives. Moreover, IFAD is undertaking a Tsunami Response Needs Assessment Mission in partnership with the FAO Investment Centre.

But we are not focussing only on emergencies, and we have not forgotten the millions of others in dire need. FAO’s Investment Centre, for example, continues to provide a wide range of technical support services to IFAD to promote investment in agriculture and rural development whenever it is needed, and there have been, in particular, some very interesting recent developments on the provision of FAO technical assistance in support of IFAD projects in Pakistan and in Kenya, as well as an increase in the various joint seminars and other events.

Implementation of the NEPAD-Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) also benefits from good collaboration between FAO and IFAD. The FAO Investment Centre, for example, supports the formulation of National Medium-Term Investment Programmes (NMTIPs) and Bankable Investment Project Profiles (BIPPs) which should soon be used by countries in their dialogue with bilateral and multilateral development partners, including IFAD.

There is also good collaboration between IFAD and FAO on African Trypanosomiasis, farmers’s field schools, and capacity-building in rural finance.

Mr Chairperson,

I could give other examples. But in the interest of time, let me conclude by assuring you that the collaboration between our two Organizations, and with WFP, is not only better than ever, it is also very very good. And, Lennart, much of this would not have been possible without your personal dedication and commitment to partnership. Congratulations, and many, many thanks.

On behalf of the Director-General, I wish the Council a most successful meeting.

Thank you, Mr Chairperson.