Hundred and Twenty-fifth Session
Rome, 26 – 28 November 2003
Report of the Ninetieth Session of the
Major Programme 2.1: Agricultural Production and Support Systems
Major Programme 2.2: Food and Agriculture Policy and Development
Major Programme 2.3: Fisheries
Major Programme 2.4: Forestry
Major Programme 2.5: Contributions to Sustainable Development and Special Programme Thrusts
Matters requiring discussion and/or decision
Programme of Work and Budget
4 – 27
Matters for information
28 – 36
a) Crop Production (including Programme Entities within Programmes 2.1.2 & 2.1.5)
28 – 32
b) Progress Report on the Implementation of Recommendations regarding the Thematic Evaluation of Strategy A.3
33 – 36
Priority Setting in the Context of Programme Planning
37 – 42
Policy and Operational Framework of the Technical Cooperation Programme
43 – 47
UN Joint Inspection Unit Reports
48 – 53
Progress Report on the Follow-up to Past Programme Committee Recommendations
Review of the Working Methods of the Programme Committee
Possible Items for Discussion at the Next Session
Any Other Business
1. The Committee submits to the Council the following report of its Ninetieth Session.
2. The following Members were present:
Mr B.G. Hankey (Canada)
Mr Li Zhengdong (China)
Mr B.J. Hughes (Australia)
Mr M. Médi (Cameroon)
Mr D.A. Bonilla Giraldo (Colombia)
Mr A.H. Haidar (Lebanon)
Mr R. bin Khalid (Malaysia)
Mr M.M. Touré (Mali)
Mr E. Wermuth (Netherlands)
Ms A.M. Baiardi Quesnel (Paraguay)
Mr M.S.M.A. Harbi (Sudan)
3. The Agenda and Timetable for the meeting were approved.
4. The Committee endorsed the improved format of the PWB document, including the comprehensive lists of planned biennial outputs. It recognized that the document gave firm evidence of the progress made by FAO in the application of strategic planning and results-based budgeting principles. The Committee concurred with the statement by the Joint Inspection Unit that FAO compared favourably with other Organizations of the UN system in this regard.
5. The Committee welcomed the new front section entitled “Strategic Budget”. It considered that the information therein facilitated understanding of the links between the PWB proposals and the corporate strategies and strategic objectives in the Strategic Framework 2000-2015 as well as the substantive contents of the Medium Term Plan (MTP) 2004-2009. In view of its length and complexity, however, the Committee recommended that tighter formulations be sought in future versions.
6. In relation to the Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action (PAIAs), the Committee reiterated their importance and recalled that it would consider a review of progress under these PAIAs at a future session in the next biennium. Based on examples, it received clarifications on how the current mechanisms to support PAIAs operated in practice.
7. The Committee noted that in addition to the Real Growth (RG) and Zero-Real Growth (ZRG) scenarios, the outline of a possible Zero-Nominal Growth (ZNG) scenario would be submitted to the next Council. Some Members regretted that time constraints had prevented making this additional information available at this session of the Committee, so that it could, in accordance with its mandate, advise the Council on the possible impact on the Major Programmes.
8. The Committee noted that the major change in resource allocations since the stage of the Summary PWB was a shift from two programmes under Major Programme 2.5 Contributions to Sustainable Development and Special Programme Thrusts to the other Major Programmes under Chapter 2 of the PWB, in particular to strengthen work related to the IPPC, Codex and food safety, as well as fisheries and forestry.
9. Bearing in mind its discussion of proposed activities for the next biennium at its previous session, the Committee focused more particularly on the impact of changes made since the Summary PWB and made the following observations under the appropriate headings of the PWB.
10. In conclusion, the Committee broadly endorsed the substance of the revised proposals presented in the full PWB, appreciating the responsiveness of the Secretariat in seeking to address comments made at the stage of the Summary PWB in the Programme Committee itself and at the June 2003 Council. Many Members, however, were not in a position to support the reduced activities under Major Programme 2.5, including those in support of capacity-building in developing countries, as they were of major interest to all developing countries. They considered that the strengthening of other priorities which was facilitated by this reduction, should not have been done at the expense of programmes providing direct benefits to developing countries. Therefore, they called for a reallocation of resources which would have a less negative impact on Major Programme 2.5. Other Members, while also regretting the negative impact on important activities under Major Programme 2.5, felt that the proposed shift of resources was a satisfactory compromise to meet expectations of the Membership.
11. The Committee appreciated the strengthening of work under the IPPC2 (212P1), the Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues (212P2 Pesticide Management) and for plant genetic resources, under both the RG and ZRG levels. It noted, however, that attention to some aspects of crop production had been reduced under Programme 2.1.2 Crops and looked forward to adjustment of planned activities under the related entities, based on the results of the Evaluation of Crop Production. The Committee was reassured that activities on seed production and seed security would continue under the new entity 212A9 Conservation and Sustainable Use of Plant Genetic Resources, including through Biotechnology, and Seed Sector Development. It stressed the importance of ensuring an adequate response to growing needs of Members under 214A2 Meeting Urban Food Needs. The need to mobilize extra-budgetary funding to support Programme 2.1.3 Livestock, especially for work on animal diseases and animal production, was also stressed.
12. The Committee reiterated the importance of capacity building in developing countries for the establishment of, the application of, and compliance with, standards. In this connection, it requested that capacity building on phytosanitary standards be reflected more explicitly under entities 212P1 and 212P2. The Committee recognized the pertinence of developing countries proposing TCP projects for this purpose.
13. The Committee noted that provisions had been adjusted so that FAO could provide its share of the additional resources required for the recommendations of the Joint FAO/WHO Evaluation of Codex Alimentarius and other FAO and WHO Work on Food Standards to be implemented in full, appreciating that this would apply at both the ZRG and RG levels. It further appreciated that account had been taken of its own recommendation to reduce the resources allocated to the new entity, 221P8 Food Quality and Safety throughout the Food Chain, whereby the corresponding savings had been reallocated to Codex (221P2) and Codex-related (221P6) work. Some Members expressed concern that the accommodation of the above priorities could have a detrimental effect on operational work, in particular on technical assistance for the development of food control systems. Among other aspects, the Committee endorsed the increased resource allocations for capacity building in developing countries for WTO agricultural trade negotiations and trade facilitation.
14. Reiterating its broad support to this Major Programme, the Committee welcomed the evidence of the major efforts made to accommodate most of the recommendations expressed and the issues raised by COFI, its two Sub-Committees and other Governing Bodies. This had been facilitated by increased provisions over the proposals in the SPWB.
15. The Committee received clarifications regarding the scope of entities under Programme 2.3.1 Fisheries Information, the range of aquaculture related activities and on planned work for coordination and monitoring of the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, and its related International Plans of Action. It appreciated that cooperation with CITES and operation of the two Sub-Committees on Fish Trade and Aquaculture had been placed on a firmer footing.
16. The Committee reiterated its support to FAO’s work in Forestry, while observing that the proposals were consistent with the recommendations of the sixteenth session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO).
17. It supported the special emphasis on building national capacities for sustainable forest management and for the conservation of forest resources, especially in areas with fragile ecosystems. The Committee received additional clarifications on the apparent reductions in resources for several programme entities. It was reassured that they did not imply reduced work in important areas, as corresponding activities had been shifted to other programme entities, including six new programme entities which were more sharply focused.
18. The Committee recalled the Report of its 89th Session which requested the removal of the phrase “políticas y gobernanza forestales” and it was agreed that in the Spanish version of the PWB 2004-05, the phrase in programme entity 243A4 in the MTP 2004-09 would be used and would read, “políticas y sistema de gobierno forestales”.
19. The Committee addressed the impact of reduced allocations and sought clarifications on the rationale for such a course of action. It recalled the contribution of the Major Programme to supporting FAO’s effective response to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), as well as international environmental conventions. The reductions would particularly affect work on research and technology, education and extension as well as farmers’ organizations, areas which were critical to rural people and the field programme.
20. Many Members considered that they could not support the proposed reductions which threatened the Organization’s ability to address the new challenges posed by HIV/AIDS; weakened collaboration with cooperatives, farmers’ associations and rural organizations; and diminished valuable activities in research and technology, education, extension and implementation of environmental conventions.
21. The Committee was informed about the progress made on the SARD Initiative. In this regard, it was emphasized that an updated version of the concept had been prepared, as well as a framework for its implementation based upon existing projects and programmes. A project proposal had also been prepared and would be presented to potential donors. The Committee was informed that two other projects were related to SARD, dealing with SARD Farming System Evolution and SARD in Mountain Regions.
22. The Committee wished to be better informed in respect of the extra-budgetary resources mobilized in connection with the SPFS and the Secretariat undertook to provide such information.
23. The Committee reiterated the importance of policy advice under Major Programme 3.1, noting that this work took even greater significance in the Africa Region in the context of the NEPAD Initiative and the active support extended by FAO to the countries and regional organizations concerned. It recognized that this could also greatly assist in reversing the relative decline of field activities executed by FAO in this region, as was experienced in the recent past.
24. The Committee further noted the growing demands from partner financial institutions on the services provided by the Investment Centre, which was straining FAO’s capacity to fund its share of joint activities according to established cost sharing arrangements with those partners.
25. The Committee welcomed the update provided on the status of the substantial Oil-for-Food Programme in Iraq, noting that arrangements were in place to handle its eventual termination before the end of 2003. It enquired about the prospects of further involvement of the Organization with agricultural development in the country, depending on the outcome of intensive discussions on the future role of the whole UN system now under way.
26. The Committee received clarifications on the functionality of the new Field Programme Management Information System (FPMIS), including its capacity to meet reporting requirements to donors.
27. As regards the TCP, the Committee recalled that it was scheduled to carry out a discussion of the scope and functioning of the programme under a subsequent agenda item. Some Members regretted the reductions made under ZRG under Major Programme 4.1 (which covered the provision for projects) due to the need to strengthen the TCP Unit (Major Programme 4.2).
28. The Committee appreciated the evaluation as insightful, thorough and frank, and welcomed the strategic orientation of the analysis and recommendations in the report. It considered that the evaluation provided a constructive and useful guide for re-orienting AGP’s work in crop production. The Committee also noted the general consensus between the Evaluation Report, the External Peer Review Panel Report and the Senior Management Response.
29. The Committee endorsed the recommendations in general and highlighted those concerning:
30. With regard to the recommendation on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP), the Committee endorsed further work in the context of the conclusions of COAG and the Council on this matter.
31. The Committee stressed the importance of crop production-related field activities, including those funded under TCP. It agreed that field activities can be most effective when integrated under a particular programme or strategy thrust. The Committee endorsed the evaluation recommendations that the statutory two-year time duration of TCP projects should be reviewed and that project proposals that make economic sense should be considered for approval, even if they do not necessarily directly target the poorest people of the requesting country.
32. The Committee welcomed the commitment by Senior Management to act on the recommendations of the evaluation and looked forward to their implementation. It further noted that some of the recommendations, especially those concerning an integrated approach to agricultural development, would have applicability to the Agriculture Department as a whole.
33. The Committee reviewed the progress report on the implementation of recommendations regarding the Thematic Evaluation of Strategic Objective A.3 and acknowledged the work achieved thus far.
34. While some Members were satisfied with the format of the document, others – while acknowledging the work in progress – would have appreciated receiving a more comprehensive report in a more policy-oriented context.
35. The Committee noted and welcomed the enhanced cooperation between FAO, WFP and IFAD as well as the catalytic role played by the evaluation in promoting inter-disciplinary activities.
36. The Committee requested that the document on the use of the Special Fund for emergency and rehabilitation activities, which will be prepared for the Finance Committee, be also presented to the Programme Committee.
37. Following on its preliminary consideration of the subject at its last session, the Committee addressed a document prepared by the Secretariat, focusing on information requirements and arrangements which could enhance the advisory role of the Committee itself with respect to setting relative priorities. It looked forward to another document at a future session, dealing with possible improvement to internal methods and systems within the Secretariat to support prioritization of proposals at programme entity level.
38. The Committee recognized that, as indeed foreseen in the Basic Texts, it was the most pertinent inter-governmental forum to discuss the relative merits of different substantive priorities, since for example the Technical Committees of the Council or the Regional Conferences were necessarily bound by their sectoral or regional perspectives.
39. Echoing similar difficulties, which it was well known were experienced within national administrations or by other international institutions, the Committee reiterated that priority-setting was an extremely challenging process, especially in the context of an inter-governmental Organization like FAO. While there was, therefore, no “magic wand” in this respect or best practice which could be simply emulated, the Committee considered that the sought-after enhancement of its advice depended on such essential factors as:
40. In this light, the Committee agreed to proceed – at least on a trial basis in the next biennium – with the course of action set out in the document. As the next year is to be devoted to the preparation and inter-governmental consideration of MTP proposals, it felt that the suggested process would certainly assist the Committee – and through it, the Membership at large – in having more involvement in the determination of the choices to be made, the results of which would eventually be reflected in the approved MTP document. It noted that in order to facilitate its discussion of relative priorities during the May and September sessions, the Committee would be provided with specific documentation covering three aspects:
41. In addressing the sample provided as in Annexes I and II of the document of how the above summary of views expressed by Members could be prepared, the Committee considered that it required improvements, as misgivings were expressed on the categories used. The summarization of views would also need to be more specific.
42. Many Members expressed reservations about the suspension of the cyclical Programme Reviews traditionally carried out by the Committee in non-Conference years, as this was proposed in the document to make more time available for the discussion of relative priorities. The Committee agreed that an attempt should be made to accommodate both requirements in the time available and requested a programme of major events which might bear upon the priority setting process. While the Committee was reluctant at the current juncture to propose that the Council modify the usual pattern of its sessions, this may pose a workload problem over the longer-term, which could be more precisely assessed in the light of the experience gained in the next year.
43. The Committee recognized the importance of the TCP for developing countries and in particular for Low Income Food Deficit Countries. It underlined the need to ensure a better coordination and flow of information among the various parties involved in the management of the TCP cycle and a more effective assessment of the impact of TCP interventions, as well as monitoring of follow-up actions taken by governments.
44. The Committee expressed the view that a more programmatic approach to TCP should be explored, so as to, for instance, encourage a closer linkage between field and normative activities, taking account of the demand-driven nature of the Programme.
45. The Committee recognized that the criteria and project categories applied by the TCP had been developed many years ago and needed to be adapted to fit the realities of present time. The Committee agreed that a process be initiated to explore possibilities for modernizing and adapting TCP such that it responds to change in the international environment, including follow-up to the WFS and the WFS:fyl, and reflects the evolving needs of member countries. It was, however, important to bear in mind the usefulness of such characteristics of the Programme as its flexibility and responsiveness to urgent demands.
46. The Committee recalled the opportuneness of continuing with the current practice of contracting National Experts where appropriate, given their familiarity with the local situation, so as to reduce the costs of TCP.
47. The Committee took note that it would return to this matter, if possible, in September 2004.
48. With the benefit of the presence of the Chairperson of the JIU, the Committee welcomed the useful information contained in document PC 90/6(a): Clarifications on some aspects of the FAO/JIU relationship. It was suggested that this document could be made available to the new Members of the Programme and Finance Committees, as they may not be familiar with the JIU, its interaction with Participating Organizations such as FAO, and the role of the Committees in reacting to the Unit’s reports and recommendations. The additional practical suggestions to facilitate consideration of JIU Reports by the two Committees made in the document in paragraphs 25 (explanatory cover page) and 26 (consultations to minimize duplication between the Committees in the handling of Reports), were endorsed. The Committee accepted the Secretariat’s assurance that the financial implications of implementing the recommendations of JIU reports would be more systematically highlighted in the comments of the Director-General.
49. The Committee also appreciated the information provided in document PC 90/6(b): JIU Review of Management and Administration in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: FAO Action Plan, which had been prepared in response to the request of the Joint Meeting of May 2003 which had addressed this JIU Report focused entirely on FAO. It noted that the Finance Committee had considered follow-up to the JIU Recommendations related to Human Resources, including those on the FAO Representatives, in the context of an overall progress report on Human Resources Issues (document FC 104/15).
50. Bearing in mind the usual division of work with the Finance Committee, the Committee addressed the following JIU reports, two of which carried forward from the previous session:
51. The Committee endorsed the recommendations in these Reports, as suggested in the accompanying Director-General’s comments.
52. In connection with the Report on East Timor, the Committee noted the problems experienced with the UN Consolidated Appeals sent to donors, the timing of which did not coincide with the cropping season, and encouraged further contacts with the concerned UN department (UNOCHA) to address similar problems in the future.
53. The Committee also took note of the Annual Report of the JIU (CL 125/INF/10) and its Programme of Work for the year 2003 (CL 125/INF/11).
54. The Committee took note of this progress report.
55. As this was the last meeting of the biennium and it was possible that the current composition of the Committee could change before the next meeting, it was decided not to discuss this matter.
56. The Committee agreed to draw to the attention of the Council that, in addition to the standing items on its agenda, it would discuss the following subjects at its next session:
57. As requested, the Committee will be provided with background information on the rationale for the creation of the Sustainable Development department.
1 PC 90/1 – PC 90/INF/1
2 International Plant Protection Convention