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Address of Finland on behalf of the Nordic Countries at the 39th session of the Governing Council of IFAD in Rome, 17–18 February 2016

Chair, Distinguished Governors, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I have the honor to speak on behalf of the five Nordic Countries; Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and my own country, Finland.

Last year was crucially important for development.  The 2030 Agenda and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda were adopted, and a groundbreaking agreement at COP 21 was reached.  The Nordic Countries wish to applaud IFAD and President Nwanze for their active engagement in the 2030 process and for highlighting the importance of smallholder agriculture and the rural poor for the entire SDG agenda.

Yet the hard work, implementation, lies ahead.  IFAD will play a key role in this endeavor.  IFAD's mandate is paramount for the second Sustainable Development Goal on hunger, nutrition and sustainable agriculture, but the Fund also plays a significant role on other SDGs.  In order to implement the 2030 Agenda, it must be embraced as an agenda and not as a list of individual goals. 

Development financing is one of the challenges in the Agenda 2030 implementation.  We wish to congratulate IFAD for reaching the target for making the Tenth Replenishment effective.  Moreover, we welcome IFAD's readiness to seek new, innovative solutions for financing.  We encourage you to continue on this path.

Mr Chair,

The theme for this year's Governing Council, "Inclusive Investment – Rural People, State and Business," is very relevant for the 2030 Agenda, given that majority of the world's poor live and work in rural areas.  Governments have the responsibility to provide an enabling environment for the business to thrive, and the private sector plays a key role in integrating rural smallholders into value chains.  Private sector is also an increasingly significant source for development financing.  We applaud IFAD's work on private sector development, which is crucially important for turning the 2030 Agenda into action. We stress the importance of complying with the UN Global Compact, which calls on businesses to align their operations with the ten universal principles in the areas of human rights, labor, the environment, and anti-corruption.

Women play a major role in food production in the developing world.  Gender equality leads to social progress and economic growth, and it is simply the right thing to do. We encourage you to allocate more financial resources to the gender team in order to ensure that the results match the ambitions. We also call on IFAD to redouble its efforts to improve gender balance within its own organization, including in the management.

The SDG agenda envisages "a world of universal respect for equality and non-discrimination" by reaffirming the responsibilities of all States to "respect, protect and promote human rights."  Smallholders, especially women, are often denied their legitimate human rights. The Nordic Countries would like to see IFAD take concrete steps towards applying human rights based approach to all its operations.

Mr Chair,

The Nordic Countries applaud IFAD's efforts to further improve its organizational efficiency. A strong strategic framework and an effective results-based management system with relevant indicators are key to ensure that IFAD will deliver on its mandate. 
In the context of the Strategic Framework, the Nordic Countries call on IFAD to find approaches that are better tailored to the needs and conditions of its partners.  While maintaining its primary focus on low income countries and fragile situations, IFAD should develop increasingly differentiated approaches for different types of countries and situations. One size does not fit all.

The need for efficiency also applies to governance.  We attach great importance to the discussions on reforming IFAD's list structure.  The new structure should reflect present-day realities and facilitate efficient decision-making. We must make sure that the Governance structure safeguards the future of IFAD and that it provides incentives for IFAD's contributors to continue or even to increase their funding.

Next year, the Governing Council will be electing IFAD's new President. We need to ensure a transparent and open selection process.  We trust that all Member Countries will contribute to this objective.

Finally, we would like to underscore the importance of the ongoing exercise of improving Rome-based agencies' cooperation, as well as collaboration with other UN agencies.  It is vital that the three agencies work efficiently together, complement each other and avoid any unnecessary overlapping.
Thank you.