IFAD Asset Request Portlet

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

Madame Chair, President, Distinguished Governors,

I should like to begin my statement by paying a warm tribute to President Fawzi Al-Sultan for his 8 years of fine service to IFAD, its members and the rural poor of the world.

In his address the President rightly highlighted the recent appearance of IFAD’s Rural Poverty Report 2001. We join others in welcoming this important publication. At the London launch last week the Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short, recognised the valuable contribution the report has made to the debate about rural poverty, and how vital to the achievement of the International Development Targets is the task of combating rural poverty. Unfortunately, the report was accompanied in my country by press coverage alleging that it stated that the IDTs are unattainable. We therefore strongly welcomed the clear statements by those present that the report should be seen as a beacon of hope. The targets are attainable, though to reach them in all parts of the world will require a massive and sustained effort by the whole of the international community. It is an effort in which the Department for International Development (DFID) is keen to work with IFAD in the coming years.

The world is changing rapidly. The integration of the global economy, combined with advances in technology and science, is creating unprecedented global prosperity. And this has helped to lift millions of people out of poverty. With the right policies, many millions more people can benefit in the years ahead. The White Paper "Eliminating Poverty: Making Globalisation Work for the World’s Poor", presented to Parliament at the end of last year, identifies the opportunities which globalisation provides for reducing rural poverty. Globalisation can provide poor people with better access to information, technologies, to finance and to markets. However, these benefits will only reach the poor if international trade is liberalised and Governments implement pro-poor policies. We need to improve on past performance and harness the opportunities presented by globalisation if world poverty is to be reduced by half by 2015.

I commend the White Paper to all delegates. It is available on the website of the Department for International Development. It makes clear the importance we attach to international agencies in the task of poverty reduction, and particularly to the coherence of the whole international system. In poor countries we see this co-ordination revolving around poverty reduction strategies which are based on the principles of country ownership, wide consultation and partnership with the international community. We welcome the prominence which the Rural Poverty Report gives to this process, and look to IFAD to make a strong contribution to it.

How can we, the international development community, improve our performance?

DFID responded to the International Development Target on poverty by consulting widely and reviewing its own ways of working. As a result we have adopted the sustainable livelihoods approach in many of our programmes. The approach represents an evolution of thinking rather than a revolution. It builds on the strengths of the poor, working to improve their opportunities for escaping from poverty.

We believe that the livelihoods approach is a sensible and practical way of thinking about, planning and implementing development. The approach comprises a set of principles, supported by an analytical framework based on our knowledge of what works. It puts people, not resources, at the very centre of development and recognises that poor people themselves must participate and identify their livelihood priorities.

For example, in India DFID has supported programmes in areas where the poor have been dependent on rain-fed agriculture. Livelihoods analyses have recognised the importance of migration and diversification within and out of agriculture. The programmes have built on these opportunities and are having an impact on the lives of more than half a million people. With the Governments of Orissa and Andrha Pradesh we have built on this experience to design major programmes using the livelihoods approach from the outset. I am delighted that IFAD and DFID may work together in Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa in this way.

Rural women, in particular, often have limited access to services and resources such as land. Yet they take responsibility for feeding the family. In Ethiopia we hope to collaborate with IFAD to improve access by the rural poor to financial services. We share your vision of the need to help poor people build up their asset base by diversifying their income earning opportunities. Indeed, increased levels of non-farm income can be a positive factor for encouraging investment in agriculture.

Madame Chair, Governors, I have tried to express in these brief remarks the close alignment between IFAD’s focus on the rural poor and the development objectives of DFID and IFAD. IFAD’s mandate is fully consistent with the sustainable livelihoods approach to which I have referred. Together I am convinced that we can build on the progress we have already made in creating better conditions for the world’s poorest people.

Address by the UK Governor, Mr Tony Faint