38th session of IFADs Governing Council: Spotlight on rural transformation
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38th session of IFAD's Governing Council: Spotlight on rural transformation
16 - 17 February 2015
In his remarks at the meeting, IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze warned of "the price of inaction" in rural areas that are often invisible to the outside world. To transform themselves both economically and socially, he said, these areas must "provide employment, services and opportunities for the 3 billion people who live in them, and particularly for those whose lives depend on smallholder farms."
Held annually at IFAD headquarters in Rome, the Governing Council is the Fund's main decision-making body and is open to all Member States. This year's session featured a roster of distinguished guest speakers who offered their perspectives on making rural transformation a reality.
|Front row from left: IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana and His Majesty Tupou VI, King of Tonga. ©IFAD/Flavio Ianniello|
Empowerment, investment and aid
His Majesty Tupou VI, King of Tonga, said transformation would mean increasing the capacity of rural people to manage risk and build resilience in the context of climate change. He cited the IFAD-financed Tonga Rural Innovation Project as an example of community empowerment and private-sector partnerships improving and diversifying livelihoods.
His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana, noted that IFAD's programme in his country is aligned with the government's efforts to transform rural areas through more modern, diversified and better-integrated local economies. Mahama said the Ebola crisis in West Africa demonstrated the urgent need for targeted investment in rural communities that lack basic infrastructure and health services. "Neglect of the rural space can have dire consequences," he added.
His Excellency Pier Carlo Padoan, Minister for Economy and Finance of the Italian Republic, credited IFAD with helping to keep food security and nutrition high on the post-2015 agenda. He affirmed the responsibility of governments to keep providing development assistance despite economic stresses. For the sake of some 800 million chronically malnourished people worldwide, he also called for more robust private-sector involvement in the drive for rural transformation.
Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, attended the Governing Council to inaugurate the IFAD Lecture Series, launched to advance thinking on agricultural and rural development. Speaking about the future of aid, Byanyima challenged governments and other development partners to take a hard look at approaches that have worked and those that have not. Ultimately, she said, "we need aid to work itself out of a job" by realizing the transformative vision of a world marked by inclusive growth and greater equality, and free of poverty and hunger.
|Veteran activist Mirna Cunningham presents synthesis of deliberations from the Indigenous Peoples' Forum. ©IFAD/Giulio Napolitano|
Women and indigenous peoples
Beyond these featured speakers, the meeting also hosted panels of experts on issues critical to IFAD's mission. One panel focused on gender equality, discussing the road to full empowerment for rural women. The panellists agreed that rural transformation can occur – to everyone's benefit – when women are empowered to make economic decisions and have access to the resources and technologies they need to improve their livelihoods.
Another panel on the food systems of indigenous peoples underscored the need to ensure their fundamental rights in order to achieve global food and nutrition security. It was the first Governing Council panel ever dedicated to indigenous peoples' issues. Shortly after the panel concluded, representatives from last week's second global meeting of the Indigenous Peoples Forum at IFAD presented the Forum's synthesis of deliberations to the Council.
In addition, the meeting agenda included a high-level Governors' Roundtable on overcoming challenges to rural transformation through the post-2015 sustainable development goals. The roundtable's outcome document advocated an approach to poverty reduction that "is holistic, including not only economic but also social and cultural development."
|IFAD Governing Council participants at the meeting venue in Rome. ©IFAD/Giulio Napolitano|
A presentation of stories from the field highlighted innovations in financial inclusion for rural people in every region where IFAD operates. The presenters cited examples of projects designed to expand rural banking, credit risk management and community-based financial systems in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Sudan, among others.
The Governing Council also endorsed the establishment of 16 June 2015 as the International Day of Family Remittances. This observance aims to raise awareness about the role of migrant workers' earnings as a crucial means of financing for the well-being and improvement of their home communities in developing countries.
Such support – estimated at US$450 billion in 2013 alone – is one of many avenues of financing and investment that participants in the Governing Council explored this year. Their annual deliberations are the basis for IFAD's continuing efforts, along with its partners on the ground