I take pleasure in submitting to the Council, through the Programme and Finance Committees, the proposed Medium Term Plan for the period
This is the second version of the Medium Term Plan prepared in accordance with the enhanced programme - budget process endorsed by FAO Governing Bodies. The essence of a "rolling" plan implies that this document should ensure continuity with the substantive contents of the previous version, while reflecting essential updating as necessary to respond to changing contexts.
The formulation of proposals, as contained in this document, adheres scrupulously to the guidance provided by FAO Governing Bodies. In the first instance, it is important to recall that the Secretariat is mandated to implement the Corporate Strategies to Address Members' Needs, as outlined in the Strategic Framework 2000-2015 approved by the Conference in November 1999. Inherent in these strategies is the need for the Organization to play its due role in assisting Members with the implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action.
The recently held World Food Summit: five years later (WFS: fyl) enjoined the international community to stay on course in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, and it asked for redoubling of efforts in the same direction. FAO undoubtedly can make some contributions to the international alliance against hunger, called for in the Declaration adopted by WFS: fyl, and its contributions can prove important and catalytic, if well timed and appropriately focused. Part II of the document is dedicated to demonstrating how each programme entity serves to meet the goals of Members.
This document also embodies further progress in the application of results-based principles, responding to
the expressed demands of Governing Bodies. A better articulation of programme narratives has been introduced, together with improved justifications in terms of the effective impact expected "down the line", i.e. beyond the mere delivery of goods and services.
It may be stressed that a more substantial exposition has been made of the Strategies to Address Cross-Organizational Issues (in Part III of this document). These were somewhat briefly covered in the previous version, and the Secretariat has sought to react to remarks by Members in this regard. In effect, who can dispute the importance for an international institution like FAO of better communicating with the outside world, of actively mobilizing resources for both its own work and for its stakeholders, of further improving its management practices, of maximizing its impact through enhanced partnerships, of ensuring inter-disciplinary approaches to increasingly complex challenges, and of striving for excellence at a time of acute competition for resources? The proposed actions in Part III must be seen in many ways as the wherewithal to enable FAO to do the best possible job in delivering the programmes outlined in Part II.
Through the extensive contacts I have been privileged to have with their representatives up to the highest levels, the governments of Member Nations have given very clear indications that they wish FAO to continue to implement its mandate effectively. They also expect the best standards of performance and timeliness in providing the required services to them. At this juncture, the key sector of food and agriculture is fraught with challenges of incontrovertible, compelling nature. In this context, is it untoward for its managers to wonder how long FAO will need to cope with the striking contradiction between very explicit requests from the Members for more to be achieved and the prolonged period of budgetary stringency? In other words, I again need to ask whether real growth should remain a distant aspiration?
The pattern of decisions by the FAO Conference in the last few biennia has not been encouraging for those who devote their careers and pledge their commitment and experience to serve the Organization. In November 1993, the Conference adopted a budget level for the following biennium of US$ 673.1 million. In November 2001, the voted level was US$ 651.7 million. This obvious drop in pure nominal terms hides an even more serious decline of 15% in real terms, putting a brake on FAO's capacity to expand the products and services it needs to provide to the membership in the exercise of its mandate. The one ray of hope in the decision made by the Conference in 2001 is that the budget was approved at a level of zero real growth for the first time in eight years - hopefully opening the door to real growth in 2004-05.
If the Organization has managed to remain relevant despite lower budgets, has continued to make well-appreciated contributions to international cooperation, and has even succeeded in achieving wholesale modernization and full adaptation to rapidly changing technologies, it is certainly due in large part to the determined search for maximum efficiencies, and to the resolute choice made not to shirk the difficulties inherent in extensive reforms.
In the same eight years, world GDP has surged forward dramatically - though regrettably leaving behind many poor nations and disadvantaged groups within nations - while world population has continued to grow relentlessly. The WFS:fyl gave the opportunity to the international community to renew its commitment to accelerate progress against still unacceptably high and widespread hunger and malnutrition, and massive poverty.
Bearing all these factors in mind, I invite the membership to consider increasing the level of resources available to FAO over the planning period of the Medium Term Plan, i.e. the next three biennia of 2004-09. The attendant proposed increases in Appropriations in this MTP may look substantial, but they are not the product of imagination. They result from a detailed bottom-up examination of requirements in all technical areas dealt with by the Organization, coupled with the necessary filling of essential gaps in support areas. Throughout the document, Members will see clear justifications, and the evidence of expected direct benefits to them of such increased levels. The Regular Budget resources are to be buttressed by the renewed and determined search for extra-budgetary resources, building on currently positive signs of reversal of previously declining trends.
I would draw attention to the main features of the proposals, as follows:
The proposals do not include a number of important one-time investments or expenditures, which it is suggested could be met by Governing Bodies exploring the well accepted concept of a capital budget. If the Council agrees, the Secretariat will explore possible approaches to the establishment and funding of such a budget with the Finance Committee and eventually report back to the Council.
Of course, all resource projections as may appear in FAO medium-term planning documents are indicative and non-binding on the membership - as opposed to when the membership approves Budgetary Appropriations for a given biennium. Nevertheless, they provide a valuable guide to the Secretariat's best judgement of what is required to meet the needs of the Membership.
I hope that the proposals set out in this document will be found to reflect a reasoned and comprehensive analysis of requirements and that they will be found broadly acceptable as to the general direction the Organization should be taking in the medium-term. At their scheduled sessions of early 2003, the Committees on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry will also have the opportunity of providing advice on those activities falling under their respective mandates and their views will be given due consideration in the preparation of the budget for 2004-05.
Thus, having taken into account the results of the review by the Programme and Finance Committees, the Council may wish to record its approval in principle for the Medium Term Plan 2004-09 - subject to its own conclusions being taken into full consideration in the PWB preparatory process. As a final note, beyond my own expectation as Executive Head, I know that it is the sincere hope of the whole Secretariat that the Governing Bodies will consider that the time is ripe for FAO to benefit again from net growth in resources. Net growth has somehow become unwittingly a kind of taboo word in the UN system. The staff at large wish net growth to resume in FAO in order to be able to translate the proposals in this Plan into effective, growing services to Members.
In this light, I look forward to fruitful discussion of this document in the Committees and the Council.