Hundred and Twenty-fifth Session
Rome, 26 – 28 November 2003
Report of the Joint Meeting of the
Matters requiring discussion and/or decision
Programme of Work and Budget
Matters for information
The Independence and Location of the Evaluation Service –
Savings and Efficiencies in Governance
|-||Meetings of the Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP) and the Committee on Agriculture (COAG)|
1. The Committees submit to the Council the following report of their Joint Meeting.
2. The following Members were present at the meeting:
Vice-Chairperson acting as Chairperson
Mr B.G. Hankey (Canada)
Mr H.O. Molina Reyes (Chile)
Mr Li Zhengdong (China)
Ms R. Inoue (Japan)
3. Messrs A. Wele (Senegal) and A. Beattie (United Kingdom), Members of the Finance Committee, were not present.
4. The Agenda and Timetable for the Joint Meeting were approved.
5. After reporting by the Chairpersons of the two Committees on the results of their respective discussions, the Committees jointly addressed the proposals in the Programme of Work and Budget 2004-05 (PWB).
6. The Committees considered the further elaboration in the PWB of the two scenarios of Real Growth (RG) and Zero-Real Growth (ZRG), originally presented in the Summary. In addition, the Committees were informed by the Secretariat that a document describing a Zero-Nominal Growth (ZNG) scenario as requested by the 124th Session of the Council would be issued on 16 October for submission to the 125th Session of the Council.
7. Interventions centered essentially on the positions of individual Members on the budget level, the rationale for which had already been clearly articulated at previous meetings of the Committees and the Council, as well as on the issue of balance among activities. In this connection, the Committees emphasized again the special importance of the impact of exchange rates and of the outcome of proposals for split assessments, to be eventually considered by the Council and Conference, based on the expert advice of the Finance Committee.
8. With regard to the budget level, many Members recalled their support for RG, other Members favoured ZRG, while yet other Members reiterated their preference for a ZNG budget, and even below ZNG. Several Members mentioned that their respective government’s position was not yet finalized on the issue.
9. With regard to the balance between normative and operational activities, many Members felt that the changes made since the Summary PWB somewhat tilted this balance in favour of the normative side. They regretted the reductions affecting a number of important areas of the PWB and in particular under Major Programme 2.5: Contributions to Sustainable Development and Special Programme Thrusts, which were of direct interest to developing countries, and deplored in particular their detrimental impact on capacity-building. Other Members, while also supportive of keeping an adequate balance between normative and operational activities, considered that the shift of resources made was consistent with the need for trade-offs at times of financial constraint and affordability to Member countries. Some Members stated that they would report back to their capitals about the opinions expressed on this key aspect.
10. The Committees were not, therefore, in a position to formulate a consensus recommendation on the budget level for the Council. They looked forward to further efforts to reconcile diverging positions among Members by means of informal consultations and to additional information on the impact of different choices, ahead of important discussions and decisions at the next sessions of the Council and Conference.
11. The Committees appreciated the informative analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of various institutional locations and degrees of institutional independence for the Evaluation Service of FAO contained in JM 03.2/3. They also took note of the clarification of the current functions of the Evaluation Service which covered programme and thematic evaluations for the Governing Bodies; internal evaluations; oversight of the evaluation of extra-budgetary projects; and support to the new auto-evaluation system.
12. The quality, independence and critical content of evaluations prepared by the Evaluation Service for consideration by the Governing Bodies was commended by the Committees. A few members of the Committees considered, however, that it was desirable that the Evaluation Service should be made fully independent within the Secretariat and report exclusively to the Governing Bodies. In their view, its position was to some extent compromised by undertaking internal evaluation work, in addition to that for the Governing Bodies.
13. The Committees agreed that the independent role of the Evaluation Service, within the existing location in PBE, should be further enhanced in line with the recommendations contained in JM 03.2/3 (paragraph 48):
14. The Committees in particular emphasized the importance they attached to an adequate and stable budget for the conduct of major independent evaluations for the Governing Bodies, and requested the Secretariat to take appropriate action in this regard.
15. It was agreed that it would not be useful to combine evaluation and audit functions within one office, but that improved coordination would be formalized, as envisaged above.
16. The Committees also mentioned one further measure which could possibly increase the independence of the Evaluation Service and strengthen the ownership and confidence of the Governing Bodies in the evaluation process. In this regard, the Committees requested the Secretariat to make proposals to the Programme Committee, as the primary recipient of evaluation reports, as to how it could be involved in the appointment of the Chief of the Evaluation Service.
17. The Committees concluded that following implementation of the above improvements, it would be useful for the Programme Committee to review the experience and if necessary to make further recommendations to the Council. Meanwhile, the Secretariat was requested to report back to the Programme Committee in 2004 on progress with implementation.
18. At its 124th Session (23-28 June 2003), the Council, in reviewing the reports of the 64th Session of the Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP)2 and the 17th Session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG)3, had welcomed the Secretariat’s examination of the possibility of combining meetings of these two committees in order to achieve efficiency savings and improved participation, and of alternative means by which sessions of CCP might be made more effective. The Council looked forward to the opportunity to consider detailed proposals at its Session in November 2003, following consideration by the Programme and Finance Committees.
19. The Committees considered that the analyses and proposals provided in the Secretariat’s document required further elaboration and review before a recommendation could be made to Council. The Committees did not agree with the proposal to hold CCP meetings in alternate years from COAG, or away from headquarters, as these measures were not likely to increase participation in CCP. Furthermore, Members highlighted the complementary nature of the CCP and COAG mandates and the opportunity to improve discussion and understanding of agriculture and commodity issues through combined meetings.
20. The Committees requested the Secretariat to elaborate further on the possible means to combine meetings of CCP and COAG so as to achieve efficiency savings, improved participation and effectiveness, including: more interesting, relevant and complementary agendas developed in consultation with Members; shorter meetings held over fewer days; more efficient management of meetings, with clearer separation of discussion and information items; and more concise (and thus less costly) documentation.
21. The Committees looked forward to receiving a revised proposal along these lines at their next Joint Meeting in May 2004.
1 JM 03.2/1
2 CL 124/6
3 CL 124/9