On behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and on my own behalf, I am pleased to welcome you to Bangkok for the Working Group Meeting on procedures for finance, administration and planning of the Asia and Pacific Plant Protection Commission (APPPC).
Driven by increased demand by member countries in services, including technical advice, technical assistance in national capacity building and international and regional standard setting, we have witnessed increasing participation of APPPC members in the Commission’s activities over the past few years. The Commission has, in fact, already expanded its role in the extension and development of various areas of plant quarantine to prevent the spread of plant pests related to the movement of agricultural commodities. The Commission members have taken advantage of the facility within the revised agreement to develop and adopt regional standards. Six regional standards for phytosanitary measures were adopted during 2003 to 2007. The APPPC has been involved in several significant programmes dealing with major areas of plant protection in the region, as reflected most recently in the report of the 25th Session of APPPC, held in Beijing, China from 27 to 31 August 2007.
As an FAO Commission, established under Article XVI, the Secretariat of the Commission continues to be resourced by the Plant Protection Service of FAO. In 1983, the Plant Protection Agreement for the Asia and Pacific Region was amended to include a clause allowing for mandatory financial contributions from member countries. With the imminent coming into force of these amendments, it was decided at the 25th Session of the APPPC to establish a working group on procedures for finance, administration and planning to consider what new arrangements would be required by the amendments.
Given its mandate, the working group is intended to analyze current development situation in the sector, consider and outline the needs of the Commission and the effects of the amendments, as well as to draft procedures for finance, administration and planning for review, consideration and adoption by the 26th Session of the APPPC. More specifically, the working group is requested to discuss basic requirements of the new financial arrangements, the levels and the size of contributions by members as well as the procedures for budgeting, planning, spending, reporting and accounting, etc.
You may recall that the Strategic Plan for the Asia and Pacific Plant Protection Commission and its associated Business Plan, as accepted at the 25th Session of the Commission in 2007, describes the present situation, current work plan and proposed work programme including cost estimates for the 2008-09 biennium. This, I consider, will provide a basic guideline for the working group.
The working group will also need to discuss mechanisms for how these arrangements can be put in place and their relationship with FAO legal and administration systems. Issues dealing with problem solving in the area of contributions and expenditures – such as arrear and voting right, etc. – will need the design of special mechanisms to be used if and when necessary.
The output of the working group should then be a draft document for consideration by APPPC members. Discussions amongst members will take place when possible, perhaps at the Pre-CPM 4 meeting and at the 26th Session of the APPPC in India. I hope that the Commission can agree on the new arrangements and approve them in the near future. I wish to stress that the contributions by member countries to the work of the Commission, on the one hand, will help strengthen the ownership of the programme, and, on the other hand, further the sustainability of the service of the Commission.
In concluding, I wish you constructive dialogue and discussions on the arrangements for APPPC linked with the amended Agreement. I should also like to assure you that FAO will continue to do what it can to support the APPPC in its activities and to assist plant protection agencies in the region with the further enhancement of their capacities for plant protection.
Finally, I wish you all a pleasant stay in Bangkok.