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Director-General  José Graziano da Silva
A statement by FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva
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Joint Meeting of the 122nd Programme Committee and the 169th Finance Committee

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen and dear friends,

Our Conference last July confirmed the importance of food systems for the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, especially in relation to critical challenges such as the impacts of climate change, conflicts and distress migration.
Also at the Conference, Members unanimously approved the Programme of Work and Budget for the next biennium, as well as the Medium Term Plan 2018-21.  
This was the second time the budget was approved and endorsed by consensus since I took office in 2012.
This was a strong signal that we, Members and Management, have built together a revitalized, efficient and effective FAO.


But there is still a lot of work to do.
The letter I have sent to you last Friday, November 3rd, underlines the outstanding results we have achieved during the past few months; notwithstanding the budget constraints we are all aware.
As I anticipated at the Conference, hunger is on the rise again, as well as other forms of malnutrition such as obesity and, in general overweight.
We need to bring those numbers down again and put them in the path to achieve the eradication of hunger and of other forms of malnutrition by 2030 as set in SDG2.
This week you will discuss some important adjustments to the PWB.
Let me mention that earlier this year, I made some changes in our internal decision processes in order to improve efficiency.
One of those changes was including the Strategic Programme Leaders (SPLs) in our monthly senior management meeting  - the Policy and Programmes Board (PPB).
This ensures that SPLs participate more effectively in all decisions related to the organizational policies.
In fact, the SP Teams are playing a crucial role in making FAO more focused on achieving its five Strategic Objectives that are directly aligned with the SDGs.
And they are doing this by breaking down internal silos, and making the Organization work in a more horizontal way.
Also, in order to reinforce the SP Teams, we intend to re-profile five P4 budgeted non–technical posts as Programme Officers in the SP Teams.
These five P4 posts are offset by the abolition of five non-technical posts.
So overall there is no change in the total posts approved by the Conference in the last PWB.
With this re-profiling, each SP Team would have a minimum structure consisting of: the Strategic Programme Leader (D2), a Deputy Strategic Programme Leader (P5 – D1 ad personam), a Senior Technical Officer (P5), and the Programme Officer (P4).
This will be the core team. Further enhancement will depend on the specific requirements of each SP Team.
And this will be done by secondment of staff from technical divisions to the SP Teams, a practice that has been already adopted.
In order to encourage professionals to work and not to weaken the Technical Divisions, they come from the secondment of staff for the SP teams will count in the annual mobility target for the Division and also for the staff.     
Also in relation to human resources, let me highlight that we have put in place an innovative and competitive process to hire consultants.
The number of consultants working for FAO has increased over the last years, as demonstrated by the technical capacity assessment undertaken in 2016. There are around 2,000 consultants and 450 personal service agreement subscribers contracted by the Organization nowadays.
We want to make sure that best consultants will continue to be hired, and that they meet the minimum requirements to work for FAO, such as the advanced knowledge and at least two UN official languages in additional to their technical specific background.
So, following OIG recommendations, we are now launching VAs for the recruitment of consultants.
And, in a very similar process to the hiring of professional, they will all be submitted to a panel selection process in order to form a roster of FAO international consultants.
This process will also guarantee that consultants have been hired where they are really needed.
I have just got an update by HR this morning: we have achieved by now 2,006 consultants – 992 in Rome. 778 of them took languages exams while 200 consultants in the field did the same.
We launched last Friday a new platform, Taleo, to specifically build the roster of consultants. So far, we have 22 VAs for consultancies open under this new platform.


As requested by the Conference, I am presenting a proposal for the use of any unspent resources from the 2016-2017 biennium.
This aims to support programmes by replenishing the Special Fund for Development Finance Activities (SFDFA).
Let me recall that the Finance Committee in May 2016 supported the creation of the Special Fund for FAO to engage more proactively with global funds and international financial institutions.
It was also decided that the fund would have an initial target funding level of USD 10 million.
However, the Fund has not yet received any voluntary contributions.
So the Fund is now at zero.
And at the same time, Members are asking for more and more advance financing of technical assistance and investing programming in relation to the Green Climate Fund and regional development banks.
These growing demands cannot be met from FAO’s Regular Budget, and they have not attracted voluntary contributions.
In this context, we intend to use the unspent resources from the 2016-2017 biennium to put all them in the Special Fund. 
Let me recall that we do not know yet the level of unspent resources for this biennium – we will do it around next February or March next year.
From past experience, our current estimate is anything from USD 1 million to USD 5 million.
Let me underline what unspent money really means. This is not a surplus. Not new money. This is a money we could not spend on time. This happens, for example, when we need to postpone an event for one year to the next. Similarly, this can happen due to bureaucratic processes for finalizing Letter of Agreements – mostly the requirements of our counterparts – not FAO, I should say.   

Ladies and gentlemen,

The agenda of today’s Joint Meeting also includes the progress report on Rome-based Agencies collaboration.
Let me say that 2017 marked a new era for the RBA collaboration.
The 3 heads of FAO, WFP and IFAD are fully committed to strengthening and enhancing our partnerships.
We did a historic first joint mission when we visited Ethiopia at the beginning of September.
We organized here in FAO the first informal Joint Meeting of the 3 boards, also in September.
In the field, the collaboration has been reinforced while respecting the different mandates and avoiding overlapping.
So we are very proud of what he have achieved, and we are committed to do much more.
But as I said during the Informal Joint Meeting, we all need to have patience before this process starts to produce good fruits. We have just planted a seed.  And we need to take care of it.
We need to keep working based on consensus and good will. And we will only achieve good results, if we continue to work together.
I would like to add a comment on a subject important to all of us – value for money, and efficiency savings. We have transformed the Organization since 2012, based on the principle of reducing administrative burden, especially at headquarters, and increasing more technical capacity – in Rome and in the field.
We have already achieved savings of USD 122.4 million since 2012. The overall technical capacity of the Organization has gone up, both at headquarters and in the field. Most recently, 58 new technical posts were created in the PWB 2018-19 and five more as I am proposing, through reallocation of savings and re-profiling bureaucratic posts.
We continue to look for savings, even though we have cut most of the fat already. Let me give an example on policy of travel. We have already increased the economy class target to 12 hours, which is the highest in the UN system. And we continue to look for further savings.
I have to say that I have been doing my part personally: in 2017, I have travelled 8 times on low-cost airlines in Europe and Latin America and I am scheduled to fly in 5 more in low costs by the end of the year.
Since 2012, the travel costs for the Director-General has gone down by 60%.
And I am asking all managers to do the same and to think of other ways to reduce travel and other costs.
Excellencies, I would like to conclude by thanking once again the Members of the Programme and Finance Committees for the early support regarding the approval of the adjustments to the PWB 2018-2019.
And let me repeat what I said in my closing remarks at the Conference.
The consensus has been one of the hallmarks of my tenure as Director-General.
Together, we have managed to overcome past divisions between Members, and also between members and Management.
Keeping this consensus will be challenging in the near future with elections on the horizon.
Let me say that I will continue to work hard to make this Organization more and more effective and efficient until my last day in office.
Let’s preserve the trust we have built together over the last five years, and keep the focus on the substantive aspects of our common agenda.

Thank you very much for your attention.