Vienna, 8 January 2004 - The Austrian Development Agency G.m.b.H., known as ADA for short, started its operations on 1 January 2004. This new development cooperation company, which from now on is responsible for implementing Austria's projects and programmes for development cooperation and cooperation with Eastern Europe, was officially presented to the public today by Ambassador Dr. Georg Lennkh, Head of the Department for Development Cooperation and Cooperation with Eastern Europe at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, and ADA Chief Executive Dr. Michael Linhart. The establishment of the Austrian Development Agency represents the core element of a several-year restructuring process underway in the field of Austrian development policy. The aim, said ADA Chief Executive Linhart, is to "create a centre of competence combining expert knowledge and long years of experience with a dynamic and flexible structure." According to Ambassador Lennkh, the hiving off of the entire project implementation function will "strengthen Austria's activities in the field of development cooperation and cooperation with Eastern Europe by providing greater implementation capacity and by enhancing the status of development policy in general."
A new impetus in Austrian development cooperation
The passing of the new Development Cooperation Act 3 years ago launched a process of reform aimed at adapting Austria's development cooperation and cooperation with Eastern Europe organisation at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the changed international situation and preparing it to meet new challenges. The establishment of the Austrian Development Agency represents the core element of this restructuring and renewal process, creating a clear distinction between strategic development policy work and the operational side of project implementation. Greater resources will be available for both areas of activity in future.
Austria's activities in the field of development cooperation and cooperation with Eastern Europe are also receiving a financial boost: by 2006 the Federal Government intends to raise the funds available for development cooperation to 0.33% of the Gross National Income. As a first step towards achieving this aim an additional EUR 30 million have already been made available in the present year, the highest increase in funds ever earmarked in the history of Austrian development cooperation.
Responsibility for development policy remains with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs
At the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Department VII "Development Cooperation, Cooperation with Eastern Europe and Coordination of International Development Policy" will continue to be responsible for formulating strategy and coordinating Austria's development policy. "Development policy is becoming increasingly important at the international level, which means that Austria too is facing new challenges in this field," explained Head of Department Ambassador Lennkh. "One of the key tasks, for example, is to improve coordination of development policy within the EU and within the framework of international organisations such as the United Nations, the OECD and the World Bank." A further important task, said Ambassador Lennkh, was to address international economic and environmental issues which are of particular importance for the developing countries.
The Austrian Development Agency
The new Austrian Development Agency is responsible for the implementation of all Austrian programmes and projects in the field of development cooperation and cooperation with Eastern Europe, with the emphasis on continuity in terms of content and ongoing bilateral programmes. In addition, the ADA will be establishing a new sphere of activity, namely the promotion of economic development as a basic prerequisite for the sustainable reduction of poverty. The emphasis here will be on improving the framework conditions for economic activities, thus facilitating new investments and the formation of new enterprises. Austrian development policy will continue to focus on promoting human rights, democratic participation and responsible governance, as well as on conflict prevention measures, cooperating with selected priority partner countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and South-East Europe. Existing projects will be continued - and in many cases expanded thanks to the increase in funds - and the ADA will also be taking over existing contracts with companies and non-governmental organisations. As before, the coordination offices in the most important partner countries will continue to play a major role as central contact and coordination points for the implementation of Austrian development cooperation projects.
The Austrian Development Agency is a limited liability company, the sole proprietor being the Republic of Austria represented by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Supervisory Board is composed of twelve members under the chairmanship of Ambassador Dr. Georg Lennkh.
Further information is available at: www.mfa.at/cooperation