Member Governments at FAO's Conference in November 2005 devoted an important part of their time to reviewing and discussing the Director-General's reform proposals. The Conference concluded by giving its support to several key elements of the plan:
- streamlining administrative and financial processes, including the establishment of a “Shared Services Centre” serving Headquarters and the regions
- initial steps towards organizational restructuring at Headquarters
- using one geographic region as a pilot case for implementing proposals for greater decentralization, and establishing one new subregional office in another region.
Many of the changes authorized for Headquarters were already taking effect by 1 January 2006. For the piloting of improved decentralization, Africa with its subregions was selected. The countries of Central Asia were identified for coverage by a new subregional office. FAO offices in ALL regions of the world will benefit from streamlined administrative processes, increased decision-making authority and other improvements.
For the 2006-2007 biennium, a revised Programme of Work and Budget was formulated to correspond to the approved budget level and Chapter structure. It was approved by the Programme and Finance Committees in May 2006.
Meanwhile, the momentum of reform continues. In December 2005, the Director-General consulted with Member Nations. It was concluded that modified reform proposals could be submitted to the Programme and Finance Committees for their September 2006 sessions, and to the FAO Council in November. During the first half of 2006, the Director-General addressed each of the FAO Regional Conferences on the reform proposals, and sought their reactions.
In the light of guidance from the Regional Conferences and the Programme and Finance Committees in May, as well as internal discussions, a further document outlining the implementation of Conference decisions and proposals from the Director-General was prepared for decision by the Council in November 2006, through the September sessions of the Programme and Finance Committees.
Implementation of Conference Decisions and Proposals from the Director-General
At its 131st session in November 2006, the Council noted the terms of the decisions already taken by the Conference through Resolution 6/2005 on reforms and took note of the process of intergovernmental consultations in 2006, including the cycle of FAO Regional Conferences. It noted, in particular, the Conference decision to authorize the implementation of the recommendations of the Independent Evaluation of Decentralization and the management response, which included the transfer of the Regional Office for Europe. It further noted the Conference decision to establish the Shared Services Centre as a means of achieving further efficiency gains. The Council concurred with the assessment of the Programme and Finance Committees that the proposals of the Director-General1 met the spirit of the earlier decisions taken by the Governing Bodies in connection thereto2. The Council further authorized the Director-General to implement the restructuring at Headquarters as described in section V of document CL 131/18, noting that some Members expressed reservations about the need for restructuring at the present time.
The Council approved in principle the establishment of a new Sub-regional Office in Central America; the modalities of implementation to be addressed by a working group to be convened by the Secretariat with the participation of the interested countries, these modalities to be submitted for a final decision by Council in 2007.
The Council noted the desire of the Gulf Cooperation Council States and Yemen to establish a Sub-regional Office for the region, and stressed the need for further examination so as to present a concrete proposal to Council.
The Council emphasized that the overarching objective of reforms was to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the Organization and its capacity to provide services to the Membership. It reiterated that the ongoing reform process in FAO and the outcome of the IEE be mutually supportive, and that implementation of reforms should not prejudice the implementation of the outcome of the IEE.
The Council looked forward to progress in the implementation of the above decisions within the approved budget and in the context of a financial plan.
The Council recalled that Conference Resolution 6/2005 - Reforms in the Organization - had stressed that the IEE and the reform proposals of the Director-General should be mutually supportive. It invited its Independent Chairperson to informally convene, as he considered necessary between Council sessions, Friends of the Chair to discuss issues pertaining to follow-up to the IEE in preparation for Council sessions. Meetings of the Friends of the Chair would be open to all Members of the Organization with a core group of representatives per region. It was stressed by the Chair of the CC-IEE that, as stated in Annex V of the CC-IEE report, the Friends of the Chair could play an important role in building consensus on the complementary efforts underway in the reforms in FAO as proposed by the Director-General; the forthcoming findings and recommendations of the IEE; and the associated reforms in the UN System, including the outcome of the negotiations on the recommendations of the High-Level Panel on UN System-wide Coherence.
1 : CL 131/18.
2 : CL 131/7, paragraph 67, and CL/131/12, paragraph 19.