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17. Mr Peter van der Heijden, FAO consultant, made a presentation concerning the role of planning. In his introduction, he noted the various reasons for making a plan. Some of the reasons were:

18. Mr van der Heijden pointed out that when a more complex activity involving several tasks had to be undertaken by several people in a proper sequence, a plan was necessary. Planning meant breaking up a complex activity or task into smaller parts so that each part could be better managed and objectives could be more easily achieved.

19. In its simplest form an action plan was a four column table. In the first column the activities to be undertaken were listed. Who would undertake the activities was listed in the second column, when they would be undertaken was indicated in the third column, and the resources needed to undertake each activity were listed in the fourth column. The detailed listing of the actions to be undertaken should preferably involve consultation with the persons and agencies involved in the activity. This would enhance ownership of the plan, and may improve their long-term involvement in the implementation process. When very busy persons, agencies or sections had to become involved there was a need for diplomacy and sensitivity to avoid resistance against over-load of tasks and jobs. The list of actions in a good plan was determined by the actual situation in the country or region. Importance, urgency and practicality determined whether an activity would have high or lower priority. The activities to be mentioned in a plan should not be more ambitious than what could be achieved by the available and expected resources.

20. A plan should also state how progress in its execution would be monitored. For monitoring, indicators and milestones could be used. Finally, a good plan should include some provisions as too how often or under what conditions it should be revised. Revision would be needed after some time because conditions on the ground were dynamic and with the passing of time some issues may become more urgent while others may decrease in importance.

21. In summary, a plan of action could have:

22. In the discussion following the presentation, participants shared their various experiences about planning. The planning they had been involved with was undertaken for different purposes, for example tuna or inshore fisheries management planning; department budgeting; surveillance activities and public awareness campaigns. The importance of a good facilitator for a good planning process involving various departments or sections was stressed. Moreover, the need to consult with communities for certain types of plans was also underlined. On the subject of implementation it was mentioned that without the resources to undertake the activities even a good plan was useless. The paper upon which the presentation was based in Appendix G.

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