IFAD Asset Request Portlet

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Statement by the President of IFAD, Mr Lennart Båge, to the 29th Session of the Governing Council

Mr Chairman,
Mr Prime Minister,
Mr Under Secretary of State,
Distinguished Governors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I warmly welcome you to Rome and to this Twenty-ninth Session of the Governing Council.

I am particularly pleased to welcome His Excellency the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Bhutan. As Bhutan's Governor for IFAD, he knows us well. Excellency, you bring great experience in development and poverty reduction in your own country, and we have greatly benefited from your address.

We were also grateful to hear the message from our host country, Italy, conveyed to us by His Excellency Michele Vietti, Under Secretary of State of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. Italy has been a warm and generous host to all of us, and your country's message to us underlines Italy's long-standing support for IFAD.

Mr Chairman,

The past year brought an almost unprecedented focus on development issues, on the fact that we are not reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - in particular in sub-Saharan Africa - and that more resources are needed. In the run-up to the United Nations 2005 World Summit in September, substantial debt relief and increased official development assistance (ODA) were promised. According to the Development Assistance Committee of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), ODA will increase from USD 80 billion to USD 130 billion between 2004 and 2010. For debt relief and increased ODA to realize their full potentials, a successful outcome of the Doha Development Round is crucial, and here agriculture is a key negotiating issue.

Why is agriculture important? We know that about 800 million out of 1.1 billion people living on less than a dollar a day live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. We know that 850 million go to bed hungry every night. And we know that in most poor countries agriculture counts for 50 to 80% of employment. Poverty reduction without rural development is inconceivable. As can be witnessed in many countries in Asia, overall economic growth cannot deliver prosperity without the agricultural sector playing an important role.

It is thus not surprising that the 2005 World Summit emphasized that more rapid agricultural and rural development is crucial for achieving the MDGs. World leaders stressed, and I quote from the Summit Outcome Document: "We deem it necessary to increase productive investment in rural and agricultural development…. We commit ourselves to increasing support for agricultural development and trade capacity-building in the agricultural sector in developing countries."

 

Mr Chairman,

This new context poses an important challenge to the United Nations system. Development finance is growing, and United Nations organizations have to demonstrate that they are effective channels for these resources.

As part of the United Nations system, IFAD has a dual task before it. We must work to enhance the scale, the impact and the sustainability of the projects and programmes we fund. We must also harmonize and align these efforts, and make them fully complementary to those of our partners, other United Nations organizations, international financial institutions and bilateral development agencies, so that we as a system can enhance, indeed multiply, each other's impact all in a true partnership with the developing countries. What IFAD does is important. But what all of us do, as a well-coordinated and coherent system, is what ultimately will make a difference.

The 2005 World Summit has called for "tightly managed entities" in the fields of development, environment and humanitarian affairs. In response, the Secretary-General is setting up a high-level panel to review these issues. In IFAD, we are eager to contribute to the goal of One United Nations.

Here in Rome, Jacques Diouf, Jim Morris and I are well aware of the value of collaboration, and we are determined to intensify it. The publication Working together, brought out by our three agencies, provides many examples.

Mr Chairman,

During 2005 IFAD's programme of work rose by about 10%, continuing the upward trend of previous years. We also responded to the exceptional needs created by the tsunami and the South Asia earthquake by developing fast-track projects to restore livelihoods.
 
We anticipate that over the Sixth Replenishment period (2004-2006), IFAD's annual loans and grants will rise from USD 466 million in 2004 to about USD 550 million in 2006. With cofinancing, the total investment cost would surpass USD 1 billion in 2006.

Last year important initiatives launched during the Sixth Replenishment came to fruition. These included the Results and Impact Management System and the performance-based allocation system (PBAS). Learning from the experience of the first year of the PBAS, we are reviewing some of its parameters to ensure that it fully reflects the strategic orientations, priorities and mandate of the Fund. Equally significant was the completion of the first phase of the Strategic Change Programme. This first phase addressed our financial, human resource and information management systems. Now we have a strong platform for enhancing project impact further, building an effective knowledge management system and mainstreaming innovation.

The Independent External Evaluation of IFAD completed in 2005, perhaps the first such evaluation of any United Nations organization, recognized the Fund's strengths and provided valuable guidance regarding areas where change was required. We embraced these recommendations and formulated an Action Plan for improving IFAD's development effectiveness. The plan, approved by the Executive Board last December, focuses on our strategies for reaching the poorest rural people, promoting innovation and enhancing the impact and sustainability of IFAD projects.

Last year IFAD's Member States also completed the negotiations for the Seventh Replenishment of IFAD's Resources for the period 2007-2009. The key element underlying the good outcome of the Replenishment negotiations, I believe, is the strong support for the Fund by all parts of IFAD membership, both net contributing countries and borrowing countries. It is particularly encouraging that several List C countries that are themselves major borrowers demonstrate the value they place on IFAD by their willingness to make substantial contributions to the Fund's resources. And all indications point to an increase in the share provided by non-OECD countries to around 20% in the Seventh Replenishment. IFAD thus has a broader funding base than other international financial institutions.

The Seventh Replenishment negotiations reinforce IFAD's foundation as a partnership of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, other developing countries and the OECD, which are joined in a shared commitment to overcome poverty and hunger. Such a partnership, I believe, is more relevant in today's world than it was even when IFAD was established. I appeal to all members that have not yet announced their pledges to do so at this Governing Council or as soon as possible thereafter. Although all pledges have not yet been given, we can already state that the Seventh Replenishment will be the biggest since IFAD's First Replenishment in 1980.

The Seventh Replenishment Report gives guidance and funds to IFAD through 2009. Where will IFAD be in 2009?

In 2009, IFAD is reaching well over a hundred million very poor women, men and children. They are small farmers, herders, small entrepreneurs, fishers, pastoralists and landless agricultural workers. They are often members of marginalized and excluded ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples. Often they are poor women or woman-headed households. An overwhelming majority live on less than one dollar a day. They are threatened by hunger and food insecurity. Many live in some of the world's most remote, inaccessible and difficult environments; around a third live in areas of crisis and conflict. They are people who lack power, choice, security and material resources. They lack access to the most essential assets. They are vulnerable to droughts, floods, famines, earthquakes and locusts, and the spreading avian flu, to name but a few of the threats they face.

By 2009, the harmonization criteria specified in the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness have led to the clarification of institutional roles and comparative advantages within the overall international development architecture. IFAD has a reinforced role as a pro-poor community-based innovator in the agricultural sector.  We have a stronger focus on enhancing food security and reducing poverty through increased productivity, production and incomes for the rural poor. We add to synergies when working with others with complementary mandates, be it in infrastructure, technical advice or emergency response.
           
In 2009, we are also helping to catalyse development by acting as a knowledge broker, sharing lessons of what works and what does not. Our country programmes support national poverty reduction strategies. They are different in each country because they depend on each country's specific needs and circumstances. But our objective is the same everywhere, to ensure that our country programmes really work for the rural poor. We measure and report on this regularly.

Our role varies greatly from country to country. In countries such as Uganda, we are considered a leading donor in rural development and the agricultural sector. In others, such as India, we help develop innovative approaches that are then replicated and scaled up by government and others. No matter how big or small, we are always working within national initiatives and according to national leadership in order to strengthen local and national capacities.

In 2009, our in-country capacity is stronger, yet varied and country-specific, having drawn on lessons from the Field Presence Pilot Programme. Through highly qualified local staff, we have improved conditions for project implementation support, supervision, learning and knowledge management, and policy dialogue based on our concrete field-level experience. Staff are working closely with the organizations of the rural poor, taking on board their perspectives and concerns. They are also well coordinated with other development actors.

The new operating model has become the practice in 2009. Innovation has been mainstreamed, and results are systematically shared with others.

A significant part of our programmes address the concerns of indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities. In fact, IFAD may well be the largest international funder of indigenous peoples' development, and we have also built a strong partnership with the Indigenous Peoples Forum. The Farmers' Forum has been institutionalized. Collaboration and consultations are well established with farmers' organizations.

We are using the knowledge and experience derived from IFAD-funded projects and programmes to make evidence-based contributions to national policy processes. We are working with our partners to analyse and synthesize, and to inject this knowledge into selected regional and global policy discussions on issues where we have direct field-level experience. Knowledge can relate to markets and trade, rural finance, land tenure, water management, indigenous peoples and gender. A new means to share learning and knowledge that we have developed is the Rural Poverty Portal, an electronic network through which poor people, policy-makers, NGOs and development practitioners can share knowledge about rural poverty.

To achieve all this, the implementation of the Action Plan will be our central priority over the next years.

Mr Chairman,

Some have said that IFAD is now in an "overcrowded field". I wish this were true. In fact, in marginal rural areas, which are the focus of IFAD projects and programmes, there are few other development institutions that provide support for the productive activities of the poor. Yet the needs of the poor are as great as is their potential to contribute to growth and development. Far from believing that the field is overcrowded, we strongly welcome bilateral and multilateral development agencies to join us in our efforts to enable the poorest rural groups to raise their productivity and incomes.

Mr Chairman,

After a charged but fruitful 2005, we now have the possibility and means to take IFAD to a higher level of performance during the Seventh Replenishment period. The Fund is, and must be, an inclusive organization, both in terms of the partnership between developing and developed countries that provides its foundation, and through its commitment to respond to the needs of the rural poor in all regions. Fair geographic distribution of our resources to meet the needs of the poor, as called for in the Agreement Establishing IFAD, will remain a key goal of the institution as will equitable geographic and gender distribution of our staff.

Our goal is to have by 2009 an IFAD with substantially greater impact, with more sustainable projects and greater outreach to the rural poor. Beyond that, we look forward to an IFAD whose strategic role in terms of ideas, knowledge, innovation and resources, places it at the leading edge of the international effort to eliminate poverty and hunger.

Building such an institution will be a demanding task, but with your support it is a goal within our grasp, and one that we are determined to attain.

Thank you.
15 February 2006