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Statement by Sweden (on behalf of the Nordic Countries) to the Twenty-Eighth Session of the IFAD Governing Council

Nordic Statement
IFAD Governing Council 28th Session Rome

Mr. Chairman, Mr. President, Your Excellencies, Distinguished Governors, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is an honour for me to address the Governing Council of IFAD on behalf of the Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and my own country, Sweden.

It brings me great pleasure to congratulate IFAD and its re-elected President on the new mandate entrusted to him. We would like to thank all member states that have shown their confidence in Mr. Bage. We are also grateful for the endorsement provided by members of all lists. We are convinced that the coming four year period will prove to be fruitful for the organization and its efficiency in serving the needs of the rural poor worldwide.

Since our last meeting a year ago, the world has experienced some significant changes and shocks. The tsunami with its widespread destruction and loss of lives was a disaster of enormous proportions and citizens from all over the world, showed their strong solidarity with the victims by raising unprecedented levels of funding for the humanitarian and reconstruction efforts. However, additional financial resources will be required for long-term reconstruction not least in Sri Lanka and the Indonesian province of Aceh.

This kind of solidarity and dedicated action is crucial also in preparing for the follow-up to the Millennium Summit later this year, which takes place to review progress towards the development goals. The clear message of the recently launched Millennium Project Report is that the goals are well within our reach. But much more concerted efforts will be required both by the international system and at country level to combat widespread poverty everywhere – especially in rural areas. The next few years are decisive if we are to contribute to this concrete progress in reaching the goals.

Many actors are needed to face the challenges on our common route towards reaching the MGDs. It is particularly important that move in a coherent fashion towards this goal. Unless we do, much of our efforts will be wasted.

IFAD's target group is well defined, focusing on the rural poor. We know that some 75% of the world's poorest live in rural areas. Their livelihoods are vulnerable and are, to a great extent, affected by governments and international institutions. IFAD works in close cooperation with partner countries and focuses on country specific solutions. Moreover, IFAD has good working relations both with other UN organizations and the International Financing Institutions.

We are confident that IFAD's strong knowledge base provides significant support to the rural poor, aiming at empowering them. Empowerment means strengthening rural poor people to acquire the knowledge, skills and organizational capacity they need to access resources and services. It could be a matter of cooperating with the government in developing a national poverty reduction strategy that includes grassroots consultations like in Rwanda or include the special circumstances of the indigenous peoples in the Latin American and Caribbean Regions. In other circumstances, like in India, supporting rural finance services for women has had the positive side-effect of improving the quality of life for children, since women generally spend most of their earnings on the family.

The recent external evaluation of IFAD has looked closely at some critical issues concerning IFAD's past performance and future orientation. This process has been highly transparent and inclusive, giving member states and staff alike the opportunity to voice their concerns. This is unprecedented in the UN system and in our opinion shows the way ahead, in strengthening multilateral institutions by staying in tune with a changing world.

As could be expected, there are some aspects of IFAD's work that need improvement, for instance development of IFAD's knowledge management and effective use of feedback from exercises of monitoring and evaluation – in order to create a loop of lessons learnt. We are confident that they will be dealt with in an efficient and effective way.

There are also a number of impressive achievements. New initiatives have been launched and work is underway on a wide range of issues: IFAD's field presence has been increased, policy work is strengthened, the programme of work had increased almost by one third, whereas the last replenishment increased resources by 20%. These are quite considerable results in a relatively short space of time. It is our strong conviction that IFAD is on the right track. We need to pursue and consolidate the initiatives during the past 4 years. In this way IFAD will be able to contribute to a better life for the rural poor and thereby towards the achievement of the Millennium Goals.

All these efforts constitute a good stepping stone for the up-coming replenishment of IFADs financial resources and the organization's strategic way ahead. The Nordic countries are active on both these issues. We wish to continue to cooperate with other member states in supporting IFAD and the work initiated in the past four years: Further consolidation of these important measures under the competent leadership of Mr. Lennart Bage, will continue to strengthen IFAD in being a better, more efficient and financially stronger organization. It is in this way that IFAD can best serve the interests of its member states and have a maximum impact at field level, empowering the rural poor.

This is where IFAD makes a difference. In joining hands in IFAD we will do our best in achieving an even better future for the rural poor.