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Secretary-General's message to the 29th Session of IFAD's Governing Council

I am delighted to send my best wishes to this session of the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

You meet at a time when the UN is working to implement the outcome of last September's World Summit. Even though world leaders did not achieve everything we might have hoped for, they did agree on progress across a broad front. And they reached unity on a fundamental concept: that development, security and human rights are not only ends in themselves -- they reinforce and depend on each other. In our interconnected world, the human family cannot enjoy security without development, or development without security, or either without respect for human rights. To act on that understanding, we need a strong United Nations, and true solidarity among Governments and peoples.

IFAD will continue to play a key role in the work to reach the Millennium Development Goals -- agreed by all Governments as a blueprint for building a better world in the 21st century. Three quarters of the world's extreme poor -- 800 million out of 1.1 billion people -- live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods. As the World Summit Outcome Document recognizes, "rural and agricultural development must be adequately and urgently addressed…We are convinced that the eradication of poverty, hunger and malnutrition… is crucial for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals."

Your institution represents a unique partnership. It is encouraging to know that you are making progress on our collective mission to make the UN family as effective as possible, and that IFAD's President, Lennart Båge, continues to serve as the Chairman of the High-Level Committee on Programmes, mandated to promote coordination and collaboration among the funds, programmes, and specialized agencies of the United Nations system.

This week, I look to the deliberations of the IFAD Governing Council to give a further thrust to the process of reform and to our common commitment to achieve the MDGs. In that spirit, I wish you a most productive session.

Kofi A. Annan
15 February 2006