Statement by Canada on behalf of Australia, and New Zealand to IFADs 25th Session of the Governing Council
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Statement by Canada on behalf of Australia, and New Zealand to IFAD's 25th Session of the Governing Council
Mr. President, Distinguished Governors, Ladies and Gentlemen:
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to participate in my first meeting of the Governing Council and to speak today on behalf of Australia and New Zealand as well as Canada.
As IFAD starts its second 25 years, it was most useful to hear President Obasanjo outline so eloquently the importance of IFAD's mission of "Enabling the Rural Poor to Overcome their Poverty".
I would like to focus on the challenges facing IFAD as we look ahead, but first, I would like to highlight some of the achievements of the past year. I will mention three in particular.
The first was the election - one year ago - of our new President, Mr. Lennart Båge. I am sure you will agree that his efforts so far have shown that, collectively, we made a good choice. Just for this meeting, I would congratulate him and his colleagues on the interesting dialogue on Financing for Rural Development this afternoon, and in advance the six round tables tomorrow, which should make this gathering more effective and participatory.
The second was the fact that Mr. Båge's election strengthened the partnership among member countries rather than to disunity. This partnership can help us work together at the Governing Council and in the Executive Board to move the organization forward.
And third was the new and revamped 2001 Rural Poverty Report "The Challenge of Ending Rural Poverty". It was very well received and helped make IFAD better known around the world.
I would now like to turn to the challenges ahead. I will mention four, which are closely intertwined.
First, even as we start to discuss the sixth replenishment, we must ensure that the priorities we negotiated during the fifth replenishment - the IFAD V Plan of Action - are implemented. Here we emphasize increasing the effectiveness of the Fund's operations and building and deepening more strategic partnerships with multilateral and bilateral donors. Progress towards these two priorities will strengthen IFAD while better integrating it into the multilateral system, improving its coordination and leverage with bilateral donors, and raising its profile.
Second, IFAD - like other multilateral and bilateral development organizations - must improve its capacity to assess and report on results. In an environment of competitive demands for development funding, whether multilateral or bilateral, taxpayers from member countries are demanding - and rightfully so - that the resources provided are put to good use, that they will bring progress towards the Millenium Development Goals. We welcome the proposal for a rigorous, independent evaluation of IFAD in the context of the Sixth Replenishment negotiations. However, it will not eliminate the need for a strong results-based reporting capacity within the organization.
Third, we must acknowledge that, while IFAD has done some innovative work, the Fund must do more, as a recent Evaluation Committee report notes, to make the promotion of innovation a key part of its culture. In addition the Fund's limited resources make it vital for IFAD to work with other donors - bilateral and multilateral - in the area of innovation, building on its existing links. In this context, I am pleased to note that IFAD has now become a co-sponsor of the CGIAR. This will help make IFAD a knowledge institution working to innovate in terms of poverty eradication strategies and practice in the agricultural sector.
Fourth, in our view IFAD has had too low a profile internationally. As Ambassador Jacobi said, rural development is essential if we are to achieve the Millenium Development Goals. Many of us in this room know that IFAD has done some excellent work - but how many people outside this room know much about it. We believe that IFAD should take advantage of opportunities to raise awareness of its mandate, methods and achievements. This will help raise the profile of the issues of agriculture and rural poverty, which as President Båge and many others have noted today, has not received as much attention as it deserves, even in the context of a greater emphasis on poverty reduction. We are pleased that President Båge will be taking part in the Financing for Development Conference next month in Monterrey Mexico as well as in the World Food Summit here in Rome and in the Johannesburg Sustainable Development Summit later this year.
As you are aware, Canada is hosting the G8 Summit this June where our Prime Minister intends to play a lead role in building support for the New Partnership for Africa's Development -NEPAD. African ownership is critical for the achievement of the Millenium Development Goals. Now that African leaders have put forward an impressive plan to lift their continent out of poverty, their words must be heard and supported. Not just with debt relief and aid, important though these are, but with market access and Foreign Direct Investment, so that the environment of improved governance can allow for sustained economic development.
In Africa, the role of agriculture in fostering development and sustainable poverty reduction will be critical. And, as K.Y. Amoako, Head of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, said in Ottawa on February 4, when he kicked off International Development Week, in Africa, farming is a gender issue. As Catherine Bertini so forcefully indicated to us at this meeting, sustainable rural development requires and benefits from the empowerment of women.
Important though it is to help Africa make substantial progress, we cannot forget the other regions of the globe. IFAD must continue its efforts in Latin America and, especially, in Asia Pacific, where a majority of the world's poor still live - most of them in rural areas.
Mr. President, stronger agriculture in developing countries will not do as much for economic growth as it could with the restrictions and distortions that exist in today's world agricultural markets. We therefore welcome the commitment in Doha that the new World Trade Organization (WTO) round of negotiations would aim at substantial improvements in market access; reductions in and eventual elimination of all forms of agricultural export subsidies; and substantial reductions in trade-distorting domestic support. President Obasanjo reminded us of the importance of real progress in these areas.
In closing, I would like to reiterate that the (three) countries for whom I speak - Australia New Zealand and Canada give full support to IFAD and its mission of enabling the rural poor to build better lives. We pledge to work together with all member countries to help make IFAD a more effective organization.