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Address by the Alternate Governor for Austria to the 30th Session of IFAD's Governing Council

Governors, Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure and privilege for me to attend the 30th Session of the Governing Council of IFAD on behalf of Austria.

The Fund and its membership are to be congratulated on the entry into force almost two months ago, in December 2006, of the Seventh Replenishment agreement of IFAD's resources. This clears the way for IFAD to carry out its ambitious objectives for the Seventh Replenishment period.

The past replenishment negotiations started with the findings of the Independent External Evaluation which highlighted many deficiencies, but also confirmed the relevance of IFAD's mandate to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals and to the rural poor.

Austria is committed to the attainment of the MDGs and to the halving of the number of the absolute poor by 2015. IFAD is a development player with a mission that is of great relevance in the context of the Millennium Development Goals. We expect it to contribute significantly to this end.

Over the past 30 years IFAD has acquired special know how and knowledge in the field of rural poverty alleviation and food production which is a valuable basis to build on.

Today the Institution needs to be even more efficient and aim for measurable results. Tangible results are the best justification for an institution and its cause.

We acknowledge IFAD's efforts in this regard and expect that the approved Action Plan for Improving the Fund's Development Effectiveness will produce the expected positive results. The Fund must prove itself as a successful niche player that can significantly contribute to rural poverty alleviation and increase of food production.

That requires an even more efficient institution with a strong performance focus and a clear results orientation.

The relatively high replenishment level of the Seventh Replenishment will enable IFAD to raise its annual lending volume by 10 percent and should result in its increased impact. Careful planning and focussing on the core issue of a comprehensive empowerment of the rural poor will be determinant for the success of the Fund's mission.

A sharper focus on clients and issues will translate into enhanced sustainability of projects and programmes. There is a need to concentrate stronger on the core clientele which are the rural poor and to help them increase food production and attain incomes which enable them to be active and constructive members of their societies.

To be more precise, IFAD must concentrate on the empowerment of the rural poor by addressing vital issues such as land and water rights and access thereto, rural financial services, market access for rural products, dissemination of production and marketing techniques and strengthening of the organizations of the rural poor.

Let me also underline that we expect the Fund to pay special attention to the alleviation of the plight of poor rural women. It is them who carry the heaviest load in developing societies. Their empowerment, education, improvement of sanitary conditions is key to the successful development and modernisation of poor and developing societies and countries.

IFAD's projects must not be stand alone efforts carried out in its great number of client countries only every couple of years. Projects should be embedded into country processes; their performance should be monitored over longer periods in order to enable the Fund to gather lessons learned and to use these findings for useful innovations and replications.

I want to encourage the Fund again to take part, when possible, more visibly and constructively in the national Poverty Reduction Strategy Programmes (PRSP) of its recipient countries. IFAD's stronger field presence and corresponding organizational changes at headquarters should facilitate a more visible role in its countries of operation.

In this context may I give you a short overview of my country's development priorities.

Austria's top development cooperation goals are contributing to poverty reduction in line with the Millennium Development Goals, maintenance of peace and environmental protection.

My government explicitly aims at a stronger support and promotion of the female population in the developing countries in order to make women strong development partners. Women constitute over 50 percent of the human population. Their close involvement in the development process is therefore an absolute necessity for a successful development and for the attainment of the MDGs. By not fully integrating those into this process important social and democratic development potentials are lost.

My country also views significant economic growth as an essential precondition for fighting poverty efficiently. This depends on good and stable macro-economic indicators and dynamic economic development based on an enabling economic framework and a positive investment climate. However, economic growth alone will not suffice. It must of course be flanked by pro poor policies i.e. investments in the social sectors.

Other main thematic Austrian development cooperation objectives are water and settlement related hygiene, rural development, energy, private sector development, education and good governance.

Good governance is seen as a salient precondition for successful development. We understand it as an unequivocal commitment to civil, economic, social and cultural human rights with a special focus on children and handicapped persons. But also rule of law, democratisation, peacekeeping and conflict prevention.

This brief description of the Austrian development objectives shows that there is a high degree of congruence between our national development goals and that of IFAD which facilitates our continued support of the institution.

Let me refer to the Programme of Work for 2007. In light of the increase of funds for the Seventh Replenishment Period we support the proposed augmentation in annual financing to roughly USD 600 million. This constitutes a 10 percent increase over the previous year and should strengthen the Fund's impact on rural poverty alleviation and its contribution to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals.

In this context I wish to reiterate that the allocation of the scarce resources should in principle reward performance and good governance.

An appropriate form of performance based allocation shall be applied to encourage recipient countries to make the most effective use of the resources. We acknowledge however, that special regional needs like those of Sub-Saharan African countries and priorities of similar highly concessional borrowers should be taken into account.

We can approve the proposed Budget for 2007.

In conclusion I want thank you, Mr. President, for your excellent leadership and work done for the institution and wish you continued success.

My thanks also go to the excellent staff of the institution for its professional work and proven dedication.

And of course it is always a pleasure to come to Rome the host city of IFAD.

Mr. Klaus Oehler,
Alternate Governor for Austria