Statement by Kiribati on the occasion of the 39th session of the IFAD Governing Council
President of IFAD
Ladies & Gentlemen
I bring to you the warm greetings of the President and people of Kiribati. KAM NA MAURI.
Mr Chair, I extend to you my own and that of my delegation warmest congratulations for your election as Chairperson of the IFAD Governing Council.
I would also like to thank the government and people of this beautiful city and IFAD officials and staff for the warm hospitality and reception they have extended to me and my delegation.
The theme of this Governing Council Meeting “Inclusive Rural Investment: Rural people, State and Business in the post 2015 Agenda” has great significance and relevance to our situation as I am sure is the case for other member states as well. In small developing island states like Kiribati, pursuing poverty alleviation and food security programmes, achieving goals, and sustainable livelihood outcomes are often impeded by the geographic spread of the islands, lack of resources and technical capacity as well as lack of understanding of the livelihood issues of the rural poor and the marginalised groups. If their interests and issues are not captured and addressed then the rural poor and marginalised groups do not benefit from investments in rural development programmes.
It is therefore crucial that the strategies, policies and actions to achieve rural development targets should continue to be people-centred, inclusive and empowering. The implication of failed rural development policies is magnified by the increase in the number of rural households sliding into poverty that leads to rural urban migration, which in turn causes the depopulation of rural communities and makes it difficult to achieve social and economic development to support rural livelihoods. The rural-urban migration especially among youth means that urban poverty and socio-economic problems have their origin in rural areas. Creating an enabling environment in rural areas will reverse this trend by providing more on-farm and off-farm employment opportunities and income generation for the rural poor and the marginalised so that a viable populate structure is sustained in rural areas.
It is in view of the complexities and uniqueness of the issues that Kiribati faces as a small island developing state that I urge the IFAD to continue to provide technical and financial support and to work in collaboration with its partners such as FAO, the government, the private sector and the rural poor in identifying programmes and action so that inclusive investment is achieved.
Apart from the problem of capacity, Kiribati also suffers from the impact of climate and given its small size and fragility, the livelihoods of its rural population is already at risk. Climate is linked to agriculture and the changes in the weather pattern are not only affecting smallholders but the large population of fishers as well. Urban migration is not an effective strategy and many atoll dwellers have begun to realize that their lives and livelihoods depend on the traditional resources available in their rural communities.
The adverse impacts of climate change on the livelihoods of rural dwellers in Kiribati makes it a priority that investments are made that will not only eradicate poverty but also build the resilience of local rural communities.
The ability of our government to provide support is very limited and the private sector in Kiribati is still too small and disorganised to be effective partners in achieving the goal of eradicating rural poverty and empowering the rural poor and the marginalised. It is in that respect that I ask the IFAD to understand our special circumstances and note that there is no “one size fits all” in solving this problem.
The fact that we are here is an indication of our appreciation for the continued support that Kiribati has received and will continue to receive from IFAD. We are mindful of Kiribati remoteness and isolation and therefore we strongly believe that the decentralizing agenda that will be discussed in the plenary session is a key driver in enhancing and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of IFAD’s programme within our regions or countries. Putting IFAD closer to the beneficiaries has a lot of positive effects.
In this regards, Mr Chair, I wish to put on the record Kiribati interest and desire in hosting IFAD’s regional office for the Northern Pacific should there be a decision to establish one.
Chair, before I conclude, please allow me to congratulate the newly selected “Emoluments Committee” and wish them well.
Wishing you Te Mauri, Te Raoi ao Te Tabomoa – Peace, Health and Prosperity.