Extreme poverty mars the lives of 35% of the people in
“Donor assistance in the form of highly concessional finance and debt relief will only succeed if linked to effective reform,” said World Bank managing director Shengman Zhang in a concluding statement on behalf of the four co-sponsoring organisations.
The CIS-7 initiative was launched a year ago to address severe economic difficulties, increases in poverty, and rapid build-up of debt in many of the CIS-7 countries since independence in the early 1990s.
The Lucerne conference brought together government and civil society representatives from the CIS-7 as well as the international donor community. It broadened and deepened the debate to include a range of economic, institutional and social issues that must be tackled if the seven countries are to achieve development targets. Conference participants emphasised that CIS-7 governments and citizens must take ownership of the reform agenda to ensure it reflects clear national priorities – and that it is implemented. The Poverty Reduction Strategy process, now underway in all seven countries, is designed to reinforce this sense of ownership by putting the countries themselves in the driver’s seat of reforms.
Participants underlined the importance of better governance and fighting corruption. “While recent evidence shows corruption is moderating and the investment climate is beginning to improve, the key remains continued economic and institutional reform and a more open and inclusive society,” said Zhang. Regional integration is also a vital element in CIS-7 development, he said. The initiative’s co-sponsoring agencies will now work with CIS-7 governments, donors and civil society to elaborate follow-up actions on finance and debt relief, ownership and governance, capacity building, and regional integration. Papers prepared for the conference are available in English and Russian on the CIS-7 website, www.cis7.org.