CL 123/INF/11-Sup.1


Council

Hundred and Twenty-third Session

Rome, 28 October-2 November 2002

United Nations Support for Science and Technology
in Latin America and the Caribbean
(JIU/REP/2001/2)
Comments of the Director-General of FAO

 

The attached comments, derived from those prepared in the usual format, have been prepared according to the proposed revised format which has been submitted to the 87th Session of the Programme and to the 99th Session of the Finance Committees in May 2002, in order to facilitate understanding of the new procedure. For the sake of brevity, the comments do not cover Recommendations 2a, 5 and 6 in the Report which are addressed to other organizations and have no direct impact on FAO.

 

JIU/REP/2001/2: United Nations support for Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean

Comments of the Director-General of FAO

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Addressee of Recommendation: Executive Head

Legislative Body

Other (specify): UN Commission for Science
     
and Technology for Development

Recommendation 1 (quote from JIU Report):

United Nations system joint programme for science and technology for development

In order to enable the Member States to address more comprehensively the opportunities and risks represented for global society and international economic relations by the ongoing prodigious advances in science and technology, and to give programmatic expression to relevant provisions of the Group of 77 and China South Summit Declaration in Havana in April 2000, the Summit Declaration of the Group of 8 industrialized countries in Okinawa in July 2000, and the Secretary-General's key proposals on science and technology to the United Nations Millennium Summit in September 2000, the United Nations Commission on Science and Technology for Development may wish to discuss the desirability, feasibility and timeliness of a United Nations system joint programme for science and technology, modelled on UNAIDS, for reasons and purposes discussed in paragraphs 114 to 125 of this report, and to make appropriate recommendations to the Economic and Social Council.

Is Recommendation of potential relevance to FAO?

Yes:    No:   

If "No", state rationale:

Decision and/or Proposed Action: Endorsed

Endorsed as modified

Rejected

Explanation and/or Proposed Action (For "Endorsed" recommendations, state the follow-up action proposed by FAO; for "Endorsed as modified" recommendations, provide the rationale for the modification and state the follow-up action proposed by FAO; and for "Rejected" recommendations state the rationale for rejection)

While the recommendation is formally addressed to the UN Commission on Science and Technology for Development, its potential implications are relevant to the whole UN system.

It is strongly believed that the successful UNAIDS initiative cannot provide an adequate justification for an eventual "joint UN system programme for science and technology". UNAIDS is directed at fighting a specific disease with important transboundary dimensions. It is therefore particularly amenable to concerted international action, which can translate into jointly programmed sets of activities by all concerned UN entities, with precise objectives and resource requirements. On the other hand, the concrete shape of a "UN system joint programme in science and technology" is difficult to assess, given the pervasiveness of science and technology aspects to the work of most Organisations and Programmes of the UN system.

Include recommendation and action in annual monitoring report:

Yes:    No:    

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Addressee of Recommendation: Executive Head

Legislative Body

Other (specify) _______________

Recommendation 2b (quote from JIU Report):

Capacity-building in information technology

....

The United Nations Development Group and specialized agencies should study IDB's policy and operational approaches to IT capacity-building in Latin America and the Caribbean, in order to derive lessons that could be applied in other developing regions.

Is Recommendation of potential relevance to FAO?

Yes:    No:   

If "No", state rationale:

Decision and/or Proposed Action: Endorsed

Endorsed as modified

Rejected

Explanation and/or Proposed Action (For "Endorsed" recommendations, state the follow-up action proposed by FAO; for "Endorsed as modified" recommendations, provide the rationale for the modification and state the follow-up action proposed by FAO; and for "Rejected" recommendations state the rationale for rejection)

The IDB policy set out in paragraphs 40 and 41 of the report is no doubt worthy of emulation, while reflecting the broad mandate of an International Financial Institution (IFI) in addressing the need of its Member Nations. The recommendation might be better addressed to other IFIs, rather than the UNDG and Specialized Agencies, the mandates of which are generally more restricted. This being said, FAO is already active within its mandate in supporting capacity- building in Information Technology (IT), and is ready to share in positive experiences of other organizations.

Include recommendation and action in annual monitoring report:

Yes:    No:   

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Addressee of Recommendation: Executive Head

Legislative Body

Other (specify) _______________

Recommendation 3 (quote from JIU Report):

Latin American Economic System

Pursuant to several General Assembly resolutions, in particular resolution 54/8 of 18 November 1999, United Nations system organizations active in Latin America and the Caribbean should intensify their cooperation with SELA's science and technology initiatives, especially in TCDC [technical cooperation among developing countries].

Is Recommendation of potential relevance to FAO?

Yes:    No:   

If "No", state rationale:

Decision and/or Proposed Action: Endorsed

Endorsed as modified

Rejected

Explanation and/or Proposed Action (For "Endorsed" recommendations, state the follow-up action proposed by FAO; for "Endorsed as modified" recommendations, provide the rationale for the modification and state the follow-up action proposed by FAO; and for "Rejected" recommendations state the rationale for rejection)

As mentioned in paragraph 31 of the report, FAO is prepared to pursue co-operation with SELA in specific areas.

Include recommendation and action in annual monitoring report:

Yes:    No:   

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Addressee of Recommendation: Executive Head

Legislative Body

Other (specify)  _______________

Recommendations 4 and 7 (quote from JIU Report):

Science and technology networks.

United Nations system organizations should assess the viability, benefits and experiences of the numerous science and technology networks in Latin America and the Caribbean, in order to identify possible areas for strengthening South-South cooperation, and for extending lessons learnt to other developing regions in line with the Declaration of the Group of 77 and China 2000 South Summit. Particular emphasis should be placed on linking the research programmes in universities and, other tertiary institutions to the priority economic and social needs of the population, and the best research programmes should be encouraged with funding from the public and private sectors.

Biotechnology in Latin America and the Caribbean

In view of the multiple potential benefits of biotechnology in the health, agricultural, mineral and other sectors, FAO, UNESCO [the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization], UNU [the United Nations University], WHO [the World Health Organization] and other relevant agencies should continue to monitor the practical results of biotechnology research and development institutions in the region. They should assist these institutions in (a) building synergies for the pursuit of clear-sighted objectives centred on UNU's Biotechnology Programme for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNU/BIOLAC) in Caracas and the Plant Biotechnology Network for Latin America and the Caribbean (REDBIO); and (b) in the strengthening of their organization, management and resource mobilization.

Are Recommendations of potential relevance to FAO?:

Yes:    No:   

If "No", state rationale:

Decision and/or Proposed Action: Endorsed

Endorsed as modified

Rejected

Explanation and/or Proposed Action (For "Endorsed" recommendations, state the follow-up action proposed by FAO; for "Endorsed as modified" recommendations, provide the rationale for the modification and state the follow-up action proposed by FAO; and for "Rejected" recommendations state the rationale for rejection)

The importance of science and technology networks in order to strengthen South-South co-operation can certainly be endorsed. The mention of the substantial number of technical co-operation networks FAO supports particularly through its Regional Office in Santiago (Chile), is noted with appreciation (cf. particularly paragraph 48 of the Report). The REDBIO network, which FAO has been supporting most actively, is specifically highlighted in Recommendation 7. As recommended, the Organisation will certainly seek to assess, on a regular basis, the practical results achieved by the various regional networking activities it is associated with, in the normal process of formulation, appraisal and evaluation of all of its activities.

Include recommendation and action in annual monitoring report:

Yes:    No:   

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Addressee of Recommendation: Executive Head

Legislative Body

Other (specify): CFNI and WHO/PAHO

Recommendation 8 (quote from JIU Report):

Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute.

(a) CFNI should consider the feasibility of developing a more cost-effective system of priorities and modalities for the execution of its programmes, for example by concentrating on fewer courses and other activities to be delivered or financed directly; outsourcing some courses to partner institutions under formal agreements; and focusing more intensely on the preparation of teaching and training materials and methodologies to promote the incorporation of nutrition courses in school curricula at various levels.

(b) WHO/PAHO should assist CFNI in tapping extrabudgetary funding possibilities so as to enable the institute to modernize its information and printing technologies and realize more fully its South-South technical cooperation potential.

Is Recommendation of potential relevance to FAO?

Yes:    No:   

If "No", state rationale:

Decision and/or Proposed Action: Endorsed

Endorsed as modified

Rejected

Explanation and/or Proposed Action (For "Endorsed" recommendations, state the follow-up action proposed by FAO; for "Endorsed as modified" recommendations, provide the rationale for the modification and state the follow-up action proposed by FAO; and for "Rejected" recommendations state the rationale for rejection)

While the recommendation is not directly addressed to FAO, after having provided initial support to the Caribbean Food and Nutrition Institute (CFNI) at its inception, it is worth stressing that over the years FAO has continued to cooperate with CFNI in various initiatives. For example, in 1999 CFNI hosted an FAO-organised sub-regional Workshop on Developing Food-based Dietary Guidelines and Nutrition Education in the Caribbean, and a manual and training module on Nutrition for Small-scale Food Processors in the Caribbean has been jointly prepared. Within its capabilities, FAO would certainly support further efforts to improve CFNI operations.

Include recommendation and action in annual monitoring report:

Yes:    No:    

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Other comments

Paragraphs 100-102

This section of the report addresses an FAO regional project executed from 1988 and 1992, dealing with the prevention of land degradation in agricultural development. While the satisfactory results of this project are adequately summarised in paragraph 101, somewhat critical remarks are made in the following paragraph, particularly regarding alleged lack of attention to data on farm productivity increases and by questioning that the commendable training and demonstration workshops organised by the project involved personnel from the national extension services and not from the farming communities.

This is not corroborated by the positive appreciation made by the recipient countries themselves and the donor, as transpires in the various reviews of the project achievements undertaken in this period. Although quite some time has gone by, it may be stressed that this was one of the most successful projects FAO had in the region, precisely on the topics mentioned in paragraphs 100 and 101. The GIS techniques were relatively new and FAO was a pioneer in applying them to detect and measure land degradation and salinization processes. As mentioned in paragraph 101, the project produced excellent manuals for use by extension services in the participating countries, and therefore the Steering Committee of the project, with the approval of participating countries, gave priority to these aspects (development of techniques, demonstration and extension) over measurements of farm productivity. Also, the project by essence could not reach directly farming communities themselves, but was directed at national services able to absorb these technological developments.

Paragraph 121

Presumably in the light of recent substantial media attention to these issues, the authors have included in the final version of this report the BSE (bovine spongiform encephalopathy) and foot-and-mouth (FMD) diseases, as further examples of situations and disciplines which in their view would require additional "intersecretariat structures".

Given its mandate and its well-established role in supporting international actions in the animal health sector in co-operation with other partners, FAO is quite familiar with these two specific diseases. To take the region which is the focus of this report as an example, it may be noted that there are already in the Americas one Inter-Governmental Organisation dealing with prevention, detection and control of such diseases, that is: PAHO/WHO, with its two Centres, PANAFTOSA (Centro Panamericano de Fiebre Aftosa) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and INPPAZ (Instituto Panamericano de Proteccin de Alimentos y Zoonosis) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. There are many sub-regional organisations, like O.I.R.S.A also active on the matter. Furthermore, the OIE (Office International des Epizooties) based in Paris, France with a Regional Representation in Buenos Aires, Argentina, provides for overall co-ordination across regions. So, there is certainly no lack of intergovernmental structures in place.

FAO would submit that what is needed is more in terms of adequate resources for the existing Organisations in order to strengthen them and increase their capacity to deal with such epidemics. For its part, FAO will continue to assist countries in building their own surveillance and early warning systems, establishing contingency plans, and formulating policies for animal disease control and eradication.