|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
SECRETARY-GENERAL, IN MESSAGE FOR FLAG-RAISING CEREMONY, HAILS AGENCY STAFF’S
ROLE AT FOREFRONT OF GLOBAL EFFORTS AGAINST HUNGER, POVERTY, PESTILENCE
Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message for the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) flag-raising ceremony in Rome, today, 2 June:
How are you? I am very pleased to be with all of you in this very impressive building. It is a great honour for me to take part in this flag-raising ceremony. This is my very first experience as Secretary General to take part in a flag-raising ceremony. I was thinking of my Capital Master Plan to renovate our United Nations Headquarters building to a new building. We had a groundbreaking ceremony last 5 May and I am counting my days, maybe five years later I will have this flag-raising ceremony.
I have been truly enjoying working together with Mr. [Lennart] Båge as one of the very distinguished leaders of the United Nations family. He has been making great contributions, now he is making another great contribution of having this very impressive building for you to work.
In truth, of course, it is I who has come here to honour you, and to recognize you for your service and dedicated work for humanity.
For more than three decades, IFAD has led some of the UN’s most successful development efforts aimed at the rural poor across the world. More recently, your work to eliminate poverty and empower rural populations has reinforced global efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, in full and on time.
These contributions put all of IFAD’s remarkable staff –- everyone of you -– firmly on the frontlines of the global battle against hunger, poverty and pestilence. Every day, your efforts to advance this fight defines why the United Nations is a beacon of hope for beleaguered populations everywhere.
Today, you are in the frontlines more than ever. The unprecedented rise in food prices is having a devastating impact on the poorest of the poor whom you exist to serve. Development gains are being endangered. Food riots are breaking out. If not handled properly, this issue could trigger a cascade of other crises -– affecting economic growth, social progress and even political security around the world.
You know better than anyone how we arrived at this alarming juncture. For years, falling food prices and rising production lulled the world into complacency. Governments put off hard decisions and overlooked the need to invest in agriculture. Today, we are literally paying the price.
I welcome the swift action taken by IFAD in response. You have already allocated up to $200 million to provide poor farmers the inputs they need to plant for the next season. And you are ready to do more as needed.
For my part, I have convened a system-wide Task Force on the Global Food Crisis to reinforce your ongoing efforts. I expect this group to promote a comprehensive and unified response to the global food price challenge. It will address both the immediate needs of the hungry as well as the short-, medium- and long-term actions required to guarantee food security.
Ultimately, however, the success of this Task Force will depend in large part on the work of our Rome-based agencies, WFP [World Food Programme], FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] and of course IFAD. Collectively, these agencies have experience and the expertise to help alleviate hunger in the short term, and to address its root causes in the longer term.
IFAD, in particular, represents a unique partnership between OECD [Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development], OPEC [Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries] and developing countries. You have expanded its investment in agriculture even as so many others have reduced their spending. In the process, you have also successfully implemented a very challenging reform programme.
This new building is but the most visible manifestation of a broad and deep renewal at IFAD. These modern offices are both climate-neutral and environmentally sustainable. They demonstrate, yet again, that IFAD truly practices what it preaches.
Like this building, the reforms implemented throughout your organization are forward-looking and far-reaching. As a result, IFAD today stands ready to rapidly scale up its support for poor farmers just when it is most needed.
To do so, however, you require additional resources. I am encouraged by the current discussion among IFAD members to replenish the Fund. I urge them to approve the funding necessary to accomplish your ambitious agenda. And I thank all Member States for their long-standing support for your agency.
Permit me to single out one Member State in particular -– the people and Government of Italy have proved enormously generous hosts to all of you, and to all our Rome-based colleagues. Their engagement and hospitality has ensured that UN staff serve under the very best of conditions. In this very real sense, Italy works for the UN so that the UN may work for the world.
We are all grateful for the support we receive from our Member States. They, in turn, justifiably expect a lot from us. And I have repeatedly said that the world should judge the United Nations not on its pledges, but by the difference we make in people’s lives.
You, the staff of IFAD, can be justifiably proud of the difference you are making. I thank you all for your dedication and service. And I look forward to working with you to deliver progress and prosperity for people everywhere.
* *** *For information media • not an official record