Luisa D Diogo

Keynote Address - Feb. 14, 2007

Luisa D Diogo
February 14, 2007— Rome, Italy
30th Session of IFAD's Governing Council
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Your Excellency Mr. Lennart Bage, President of IFAD,
Your Excellency James Harvey Chairperson of the Governing Council of IFAD,
Honourable Tommaso Schioppa, Minister for Economy and Finance of the Italian Republic,
Distinguished Representatives of Member States,
Distinguished Representative from the Holy See,
Dear Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen

Allow me at the outset to express my appreciation to the President of IFAD for the kind invitation extended to me to take part at the inaugural ceremony of the Thirtieth Session of IFAD´s Governing Council.

I would like to seize this opportunity to convey my profound gratitude to the Government of Italy and IFAD for the cordial hospitality accorded to me and to my delegation since our arrival in Rome.

It is a great privilege for me to share with this august gathering the views and expectation of the Government and People of Mozambique on its efforts to eradicate poverty and the contributions of IFAD and all United Nations entities to this endeavour. As requested by IFAD, I will put into perspective the proposed recommendations made by the High-level Panel on United Nations System-wide Coherence in the Areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance and the Environment.

I am glad to know that this session of the Governing Council will discuss important issues pertaining to empowerment of rural communities through employment and livelihood.

Mr. President,

The topic of this session could not be more timely scheduled as we reach the mid-term for the timeframe set for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Regrettably, so far a lot remains to be done to successfully half the number of people living in poverty by 2015.

Achieving Millennium Development Goals is still a considerable challenge for many countries. We strongly believe that an integrated approach that takes into considerations the major constraints, among which I would highlight: sustainable development centred in the human being, capacity building, diseases and a high degree of commitment, harmonization and complementarity of intervention of all stakeholders.

In this regard, Mozambique embarked on a five year plan (2005-2009) that aims at poverty reduction through a PRSP nationally known as PARPA that reflects this integrated approach. As a result, the Mozambican economy has been growing at a rate slightly higher than 7% a year with significant impact on the population well-being.

The proportion of poor people in total population reduced from 69.4% in 1997 to 54.1% in 2003. Notwithstanding this result and the positive projections that indicate that rate of growth will be maintained up to 2014, the demographic data does not follow the same trend.

We managed to achieve these positive results due to the determination and commitment of all Mozambicans to fight poverty. Our efforts benefited from the continued support of our bilateral and multilateral partners. As an example, IFAD supported projects targeting poverty reduction in rural areas, combat and reduce hunger, malnutrition, and to raise the productivity and incomes of our people living in absolute poverty. With all the efforts we expect to achieve the goals of social and economic development of our nation.

Mr. President,

Environment problems and natural disasters have direct impact in the development process and people’s livelihoods, therefore require an appropriate response in order not to avert the gains made so far in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Soils quality loss and irregular rainfall due to global warming have negative effects on agricultural production and increase the risk of natural disasters, thus increasing nation’s vulnerability. Our country is prone to cyclical natural disasters and at this moment, our people in the central provinces of Tete, Sofala and Zambézia are facing floods. In this context, the vulnerability of Mozambique to natural disasters we deemed necessary for PARPA to include activities for disaster preparedness and prevention, mitigation and support in order to overtake the challenges posed by the Mother Nature.

The appropriate and optimum exploitation and harnessing of natural resource capital for the poor, within a framework of national enabling policies, coupled with the drive for good governance, have been a fertile ground on which the seeds of our joint efforts will grow to bear the goals we pursue.

In this regard, the IFAD nine programs and projects in the country covering development support in the sectors of rural finance services, market linkages, infrastructure development, artisan fisheries, as well as agriculture and food security have contributed significantly to this end. We are determined to ensure the elevation of standards of life for the poor through these interventions.

More importantly, through its support programs, the rural finance services have begun to sensitize and stimulate the development of diverse and cross-cutting social and economic programmes in the country. It is interesting to share with you that the rural finance program is a special one for us in Mozambique because it results from a combination of efforts between IFAD and African Development Bank – two of the most supportive multilateral financial agencies helping Africa. The approaches adopted have been encouraging the focus on rural poverty alleviation. As a result, IFAD’s support programs emphasize its role in the design of rural based sector development initiatives. The implementation of programmes in various sectors is beginning to create jobs and opportunities for small to medium entrepreneurship particularly appropriate for smallholder rural households.

I wish to acknowledge that through IFAD’s support, a culture of pro-active management has prevailed and is marked with a process of delivery that ensures impact. Our country programmes are evolving into improved systems of management for impact, enabled by a strengthened culture of prudent financial management, as well as comprehensive monitoring and evaluation systems.

Many of the project implementers have customised the much-advocated participation of women and youth who comprise a large proportion of our targeted rural poor. The most catalytic ways in which all this proves to be possible is a continuous dialogue between beneficiary countries on one hand and IFAD on the other; in the way our programmes are run to ensure that the interest of the poor is the driving force. This should be complemented by a strong coordination at the National level between the Government and the external partners involved in financing our programs as we positively learnt in the case of Mozambique.

At the same time, we are of the view, that the stronghold of policy dialogue between the national governments and IFAD must be upheld. We urge that the strategy and framework of our work continue to be built upon the cumulative experience and lessons learnt from real field experiences. In the case of Mozambique, the achievements teach us that leadership and ownership at the National level as well as an improved coordination with the donor community are key factors for the success in reducing poverty. The earned value of such experiences can hardly be argued against, and thus should not be discarded, especially where it relates to issues affecting the rural poor.

The guiding lighthouse of the millennium goals is a powerful signal that reminds us that the time when the developing world must continue to accept to have some of its citizens living in appalling conditions unworthy of human beings should be declared, over.

Mr. President,

Without being detracted from the mainstream development agenda, I now turn to the ongoing United Nations reform process. The reason for doing so cannot be over-emphasized as the UN plays an important role in our efforts to achieve sustainable development. In fact the UN role in development was the Key element that motivated us to accept the invitation to be part of this important reform process.

Last November, at the United Nations, the High-level Panel on United Nations System-wide Coherence in the Areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance and the Environment launched its final report "Delivering as One" containing important recommendations aiming to develop a strong coherence and effectiveness in the entire United Nations system.

It was a great privilege for me, as woman from Africa to Co-Chair the United Nations Panel and it was a unique experience to work with such an extraordinary group of experienced and eminent Panel Members, including the distinguished President of IFAD, Mr. Lennart Bage, very diverse in their backgrounds and in the perspectives that they brought to our deliberations.

Let me underline that with limited time available to us we managed to conduct a consultative process and ensure the engagement and commitment of concerned stakeholders, from Member States, the United Nations system, inter-governmental fora, international financial institutions, academia and civil society organizations, a fundamental step to develop bold relevant and realistic recommendations on the three areas defined for the Panel – Development, Humanitarian Assistance and the Environment.

Consultation on a variety of thematic issues, directly influenced the recommendations that the Panel put forward, in November 2006, aiming at enhancing understanding among Panel Members of the expected role of the United Nations at country level, with information on good practices, as well as major challenges to United Nation’s country-level coherence, so that we could integrate the views of practitioners into the overall deliberations of the Panel.

In general, it was clear to all Panel members that there is a feeling that the United Nations is struggling to define its role and that its credibility should be capitalized for the success of the international agenda in the four focus areas.

We have seen in Mozambique that as bilateral donors increasingly moved into new aid modalities such as direct budget support, the United Nations Country Team was facing the risk of being sidelined. As expressed in the Panel report, we want the United Nations to be a strategic player at the country level, supporting us in the preparation and implementation of our development strategy, and ultimately helping us to make progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the other internationally agreed development goals.

We believe that the success of the UN reform depends on the commitment of the individuals, its member states and the international community as a whole. Thus, it is necessary a strong and sustainable support from Member States, good leadership and ownership. Therefore, as we did during the Launch of the Report, we call upon all United Nations and its Agencies, Governments and Development Agencies and other relevant stakeholders to join hands and efforts working towards a stronger coherence of the United Nations at country level and its increase effectiveness.

I would like to recognize that a lot has been achieved in United Nations reform over the past years and express my believe that the Panel recommendations for action are implementable and will contribute to advance, successfully the ongoing UN reforms.

We ought to make sure that the good recommendations are turn into actual changes in the work of the United Nations to be a true centre of excellence.

Mr. President,

Based on the interdependence among humanitarian assistance, environment, poverty, peace and security interventions, it is now agreed that the integration and encapsulation of all these in a development package, must steer and define the way forward for our development agenda. As a Panel Member I think that if we are convinced – and I am sure we are – the United Nations, with all its implementing agencies including IFAD, should now take into their stride, the global agenda on areas of Development, Humanitarian Assistance and Environment. This is the most important result that we can expect from the ongoing reform.

The unprecedented scale and scope of disasters, such as the tsunami and floods which claim lots of lives of the world’s poorest people, underline the importance of improving the timeliness and predictability of humanitarian funding. As a result, currently, international institutions dealing with humanitarian assistance and environment have made significant progress in providing more coordinated responses to emergencies at country level.

Beyond the unpredictable natural calamities come yet, other serious and pervasive problems confronting the world today, namely: the staggering HIV & AIDS pandemic, land degradation, desertification, and depletion of forests and loss of biodiversity, pollution, inadequate access to water, its proper management, let alone access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.

Each of these problems has an important bearing to the poverty and development efforts of developing countries especially those in Sub Saharan Africa. In this region, for example, land degradation and desertification has led to permanent loss of farmlands and consequently adversely affected the livelihoods of poor farmers over this Africa region. This is why we assert that the United Nations and its agencies should regard it as bound by duty to give due attention to the integration of Development, Humanitarian Assistance and Environment.

As we commence the Thirtieth Session of the IFAD Governing Council, it is our expectation that the deliberations of this high level meeting will be able to come up with concrete results in order to face the challenges to the International Fund for Agriculture Development to achieve the internationally agreed development goals.

Finally, I would like to congratulate the Governing Council of IFAD for the convening of its thirtieth session, which reflects its maturity and longevity in the fight against poverty.

I thank you for your kind attention!

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