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Statement by Austria to the 24th Session of IFAD's Governing Council

Governors, Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great pleasure and a privilege for me to attend the 24th Session of the Governing Council of IFAD. This meeting of the Governing Council is a special one as it marks the end Mr. Fawzi Al-Sultan's two terms as IFAD’s President. Mr. Al-Sultan did an excellent job at the helm of this institution over the past eight years. He was successful in bringing the Fund closer to its goal of being the knowledge organization in the field of fighting rural poverty. On behalf of the Austrian government, I would like, as others, to thank you Mr. President for your dedication and excellent work for IFAD.

The year 2000 was marked by the successful completion of the fifth replenishment negotiations of IFAD's resources where Austria has maintained her share in the contribution of List A-countries. We strongly agree with IFAD's main objective of poverty alleviation that we consider as the top priority of institutions involved in development cooperation. In the context of this replenishment effort, I would like to express, in particular with respect to the latest news of today, my appreciation that most donors have don their best in coming up with the necessary pledges in order to make the Replenishment Resolution effective and enable IFAD to continue its work without interruption.

I also want to emphasize that we fully subscribe to the agreed Consultation Report. However, I would like to reiterate that we consider it very important that IFAD is constantly working on its comparative advantage in the field of rural poverty alleviation and household food security. There are many players in the development field and IFAD with its special mission, in our view, must be leading the fight against rural poverty albeit it is a relatively small institution.

  • This cannot be done without close cooperation with the other development institutions and bilateral donors, and the governments and people of recipient countries;
  • Another important ingredient of success is the inclusion and participation of the prospective beneficiaries in project design and implementation.
  • The unique grass roots approach of IFAD should ensure best use of the scarce resources and that the needs of the rural poor are taken into account properly.
  • Appropriate consideration of the implementation performance of borrowers is important and is supposed to be used as one important allocation criterion. Special attention has to be paid to those criteria that have systemic implications such as institutional efficiency, combating corruption, accountability or transparency.

We positively take note that the Fund, in line with the Consultation Report, is starting the implementation of the Plan of Action that is reflected in the Program of Work for 2001. Knowledge management, impact management, partnerships, policy and institutional analysis and dialogue that constitute the four pillars of the Plan should make the Fund an even more efficient institution with an enhanced impact.

Another positive highlight of last year that I would like to mention is IFAD's Rural Poverty Report including a manual for rural poverty reduction that has been presented just recently. While I would not want to add anything more than has been described by President Al-Sultan in his address this morning regarding the importance and significance of this report, I would like to quote one sentence out of this report which, in my view, should be the key message of that report: "Poverty reduction is not something that governments, development institutions or NGOs can do for the poor. They can forge partnerships and help promote the conditions in which the poor can use their own skills and talents to work their way out of poverty. But the poor themselves have to seize responsibility, as agents, for their own development."

Now with regard to the future of IFAD, I would like to quickly turn to the Programme of Work for 2001. The volume of projects of around 400 million USD is significantly lower compared to last year. After the implementation phase of the Action Plan we expect the Fund to return to a volume of around 450 million USD which we consider appropriate and necessary for its impact and role. While we can support IFAD's endeavor to find additional resources by testing new donor independent market based financing mechanisms we remain skeptical to which extent this can produce significant additional resources on a sustainable basis. In any case, we take it that the Fund will proceed very prudently and avoid unnecessary risks given the public nature of its funding base.

The Budget for 2001 presented for adoption is another zero growth budget. Given the situation of a smaller institution with a significantly higher share of fixed costs as compared to larger institutions, this seems to reflect major efforts from management and staff. I would like to thank and congratulate the staff of IFAD for their professional work and dedication that has allowed IFAD to perform its objectives under continued budgetary pressures.

In conclusion, let me welcome the Republic of Iceland as a new member of IFAD. I take this also as a sign that an institution with a steadily growing membership must be healthy and should have a bright future.

Thank you for your attention.

Address by Mr. Walter Rill
Governor for Austria