CL 112/1 Provisional Annotated Agenda
CL 112/2 Current World Food Situation
CL 112/3 Summary Programme of Work and Budget 1998-99 (SPWB)
CL 112/3 Sup.1 Alternative Scenarios to the SPWB 1998-99
CL 112/4 Report of the Joint Meeting of the 76th Session of the Programme Committee and the 86th Session of the Finance Committee (Rome, January 1997)
CL 112/5 Report of the 66th Session of the Committee on Constitutional and Legal Matters (Rome, May 1997)
CL 112/6 Report of the 61st Session of the Committee on Commodity Problems (Rome, February 1997)
CL 112/7 Report of the 22nd Session of the Committee on Fisheries (Rome, March 1997)
CL 112/8 Report of the 13th Session of the Committee on Forestry (Rome, March 1997)
CL 112/9 Report of the 14th Session of the Committee on Agriculture (Rome, April 1997)
CL 112/9 Sup.1-Rev.1 Revised Text of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)
CL 112/10 Report of the 22nd Session of the Committee on World Food Security (Rome, September-October 1996)
CL 112/11 Arrangements for the 29th Session of the Conference
CL 112/12 No document
CL 112/13 1st Annual Report of the WFP Executive Board 1996
CL 112/13 Corr.1 Corrigendum to CL 112/13
CL 112/13 Sup.1 WFP Pledging Target for 1999-2000
CL 112/14 Reports of the 77th Session of the Programme Committee, the 87th Session of the Finance Committee and their Joint Meeting (Rome, April 1997)
CL 112/15 Report of the 23rd Session of the Committee on World Food Security (Rome, April 1997)
CL 112/16 Application for Membership in the Organization
CL 112/17 Report of the 3rd Extraordinary Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Rome, December 1996)
CL 112/18 Report of the 7th Regular Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (Rome, May 1997)
CL 112/19 Revision of the General Regulations of the WFP
CL 112/19 Sup.1 Revision of the General Regulations for the WFP (Draft Resolution for the Conference)
CL 112/20 Review of FAO Statutory Bodies and Panels of Experts

C 97/Series
C 97/4 Programme Evaluation Report 1996-97
C 97/9 Medium Term Plan 1998-2003

CL 112/INF/Series
CL 112/INF/1 Provisional Timetable
CL 112/INF/2 Rev.1 Provisional List of Delegates and Observers
CL 112/INF/3 Provisional List of Documents
CL 112/INF/4 Note on the Methods of Work of the Council
CL 112/INF/5 Statement by the Director General of FAO to the 112th Session of the Council
CL 112/INF/6 Index of Conference and Council Decisions (November 1977 - October 1996)
CL 112/INF/7 Implementation of Decisions taken at the 111th Session of the Council
CL 112/INF/8 Revised Calendar of FAO Governing Bodies and Other Main Sessions 1996-97
CL 112/INF/9 Officers of the Conference and Council
CL 112/INF/10 Changes in Representation of Member Nations on the Programme and Finance Committees
CL 112/INF/11 Statement of Competence and Voting Rights submitted by the European Community and its Member States
CL 112/INF/12 Cost of Meetings
CL 112/INF/13 JIU Report on the Comparison of Methods of Calculating Equitable Geographical Distribution within the UN Common System (JIU/REP/96/7)
CL 112/INF/14 ACC Comments on JIU Report entitled Accountability, Management Improvement and Oversight in the UN System (JIU/REP/95/2)
CL 112/INF/15 ACC Comments on JIU Report entitled the Advancement of Women through and in the Programmes of the UN System (JIU/REP/95/5)
CL 112/INF/16 ACC Comments on JIU Report entitled UN System Common Premises and Services in the Field (JIU/REP/94/8)
CL 112/INF/17 JIU Report entitled Strengthening of the UN System Capacity for Conflict Prevention (JIU/REP/95/13)
CL 112/INF/18 JIU Report entitled Coordination of Policy and Programming Frameworks for More effective Development Cooperation (JIU/REP/96/3)
CL 112/INF/19

JIU Report entitled Review of Financial Resources Allocated by the UN System to Activities by Non-Governmental Organizations (JIU/REP/96/4)

CL 112/INF/20 FAO Atlas of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries
CL 112/INF/21 Recommendations to ban the use of Tobacco in all FAO Buildings at Headquarters and in the Field

CL 112/LIM/1 Status of Contributions 1997
CL 112/LIM/2 Invitations to Non-Member Nations to Attend FAO Sessions

C 97/INF/20 FAO Cooperation with UN System Organizations, Bretton Woods Institutions, Regional Banks, the CGIAR and in Emergency and Humanitarian Assistance, and in in Follow-up to the World Food Summit

CL 112/REP/1 to Draft Reports of Plenary
CL 112/REP/10
CL 112/REP/10 Corr.1

CL 112/PV/1 to Provisional Verbatim Records of Plenary Meetings
CL 112/PV/9

CL 112/OD/1 to Orders of the Day
CL 112/OD/6





Mr Chairman of the Council,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

    It is a great pleasure to welcome you to Rome for this Hundred and Twelfth Session of the Council. This is a particularly important session, not only because you will be providing the Organization with general guidelines for its activities over the next years and more specifically over the next biennium, but also because this is the first session of the Council after the World Food Summit. The commitments in the Summit Plan of Action and the important responsibilities assigned to FAO in the follow-up to the Summit have serious implications for the Summary Programme of Work and Budget.

    Another focus of your deliberations will be the present state of food and agriculture, where recent trends are in some respects encouraging, although we must not lose sight of the enormity of the problems that remain to be resolved.

    World production of staple foods rose appreciably in 1996, the highest rates of growth among the developing regions being those in Africa. Provisional estimates for 1997 suggest that this growth in food production will continue, not only for cereals, but also for the main oil crops, cassava, meat and milk products. World cereal production, which had reached record levels in 1996 after a worrying downturn, could reach comparable or even higher levels this year. Yet, for all their expected increase in 1997, world cereal stocks will probably remain below the security threshold of 17 to 18 percent of consumption.

    At the same time, the present economic situation offers a more favourable climate for food security, with a modest increase in global production, particularly on the part of the developing counties, strong growth of international trade and a general fall in inflation and interest rates. Economic conditions in many of the low-income countries have been decidedly better in the last two years, particularly in Africa. We must now make sure that this improvement affects the purchasing power of the least privileged population groups and enhances their access to food.

    The food situation however is still marked by strong regional and local disparities due to unfavourable weather, natural disasters or man-made crises. Since January 1996, through its Global Information and Early Warning System, FAO - often in tandem with the World Food Programme - has fielded over 40 missions to evaluate harvests and food supplies in the vulnerable and hardest-hit countries. These missions have helped drum up emergency aid for millions of victims. In one and a half years, I and the Executive Director of WFP have together approved 23 emergency operations, at a total value of some 860 million dollars, to provide assistance to 15 million beneficiaries. In Africa alone, 16 countries are currently facing exceptional food crises and the prevailing situation in the Great Lakes Region, in Iraq and in North Korea is cause for continuing concern.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

    The Committee on World Food Security was appointed by the Summit to monitor implementation of the Plan of Action and to track the progress being made towards achieving the minimum objective of halving the number of undernourished people in the world by the year 2015, at the latest. The Committee met in April and agreed to a provisional procedure of establishing reports for use in 1997 by governments, the United Nations agencies and other international organizations involved in the implementation of the Plan of Action. The Committee also examined the amendments to the General Rules of the Organization, which you will be looking at before these are submitted to the Conference.

    The Administrative Committee on Co-ordination (ACC), which groups the executive heads of all the organizations in the UN system, is charged with ensuring inter-agency coordination in the follow-up to the Summit. The joint FAO/IFAD proposal on the modalities of such cooperation was approved at the last session of the ACC in April in Geneva.

    FAO will therefore draft a report on the outcome and follow-up of the Summit for discussion by the Economic and Social Council prior to submission to the General Assembly.

    Last March, FAO organized a Technical Consultation on the Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System, which was attended by experts and representatives of all the UN agencies concerned, national institutions and NGOs. The outcome of this consultation has already been endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security and numerous actions have already been initiated to put the short-term components of the plan of work into effect.

    The proposals in the Programme of Work and Budget 1998-99 also include a new interdisciplinary sub-programme which is aimed at consolidating and reinforcing information and mapping activities. This will help Member Nations develop and maintain a national system enabling them to rapidly and accurately identify population groups suffering from, or exposed to, malnutrition, to determine the underlying causes and to come up with remedial actions.

    FAO conveyed the results of the Summit to the Commission on Human Rights and concluded an agreement with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to work closely on better defining the right to food as one of the basic human rights. The High Commissioner plans to convene a meeting of experts on this matter in July or August of this year.

    The Organization was quick to engage in the preparation of national strategies, in close collabotation with member country experts, for agricultural development towards the year 2010, the objective being to take the commitments in the Plan of Action from global to country level and to foster cooperation with our development partners in their implementation. This exercise began with the low-income food-deficit countries and will subsequently be extended to the other developing countries, those in transition and to any developed country that may be interested. The resulting documents are first submitted to the UN system, the Bretton Woods Institutions and the regional development banks before being presented to the ministers of agriculture for broader consultation and formal government adoption.

    However, one of the most important contributions expected from FAO for implementation of the Summit Plan of Action, particularly its Commitment 3, is of course in the area of agricultural development. In this connection, the Special Programme for Food Security in the low-income food-deficit countries, which was launched - with your agreement - well before the Summit, will continue as one of the central pillars of FAO's action in the field. After all, the 840 million people suffering from chronic undernourishment live mainly in the developing countries and in the countries in transition. Two years after it was introduced, the Special Programme is now operational in 18 of these countries and is either being launched or under formulation in seven others. The principles behind this programme are well known; it aims to increase food production and availability through the adoption of a multidisciplinary and participatory approach that is environmentally responsible and socially equitable. The ultimate goal is of course to improve the living conditions of the poorest sectors of the rural population, particularly the women. The Special Programme belongs to all the Member Nations that wish to take part and to their farmers; FAO only intervenes upon the express request of governments, particularly for interventions financed by the Technical Cooperation Programme whose criteria are strictly applied.

    However, the aims of the Rome Declaration are ambitious and require substantial resources. But at a time of budget stringencies for governments and international organizations everywhere, we need to be innovative in our search for the funds needed to implement the Summit Plan of Action. We have therefore cemented our ties with our development partners, the donor countries, the other UN agencies and programmes, the international and regional financial institutions, the decentralized institutions, the private sector, the non-governmental organizations and also the international and national research institutes.

    As a result, I signed agreements in January this year with the Presidents of the World Bank and of the African Development Bank for the promotion of rural development and food security in Africa. Under these agreements, each bank has undertaken to look favourably upon requests from Member Nations for the funding of Special Programme pilot activities, up to a ceiling of 1.5 million dollars per country. In the same vein, discussions are at a very advanced stage with the Islamic Development Bank and should lead to the signature of a cooperation agreement on food security. Discussions are also underway with the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, IFAD and the World Food Programme for their participation in the Special Programme. Elsewhere, the International Food Policy Research Institute is the first member of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research to have decided to join the Programme, focusing especially on the social and economic constraints. Finally, South-South cooperation agreements are gradually being put into place, with experienced technical experts from developing countries being sent to work alongside the beneficiary farmers of the Special Programme.

    A number of parallel initiatives have also been launched to rally civil society and the decentralized institutions, and in so doing to build upon the momentum that was generated by the Summit, which saw the active participation of parliamentarians, non-governmental organizations and representatives of the private sector.

    The slogan for this year's World Food Day, "Investing in Food Security", reflects this perspective of mobilization. The celebratory events include the TeleFood operation, a worldwide audio-visual programme designed, first, to hold the decisions taken at the Summit in the public eye and, second, to invoke the solidarity of all people concerned about the problem of hunger in the world.

    Determined government action is vital to the success of this mobilization exercise which will have the draw upon all strands of state and society if the objectives of the Summit Plan of Action are to be achieved. In this connection, the Plan calls upon governments to launch national "Food for All" campaigns, marshalling all stakeholders and their resources for implementation of the intended measures. The first stage of these campaigns should be for Member Nations to set up a national forum comprising all development players and partners, particularly the private sector, non-governmental organizations, universities, research institutes, parliamentarians, women's and youth groups, the media and civil society.

    It is encouraging to note that a number of developed and developing countries have already launched such campaigns. Other governments should follow suit and establish such forums. FAO will, of course, help them in any way needed.

    Alongside all these efforts to round up and coordinate forces for the follow-up to the Summit, the Organization has also been pursuing its traditional normative activities, which remain as important as ever. Two examples where significant progress has been made in recent months are:

- The revision of the International Plant Protection Convention which allows countries to take measures to prevent the introduction and spread of pests and diseases, while at the same time ensuring that these are reasonable and do not constitute unfair barriers to trade. The revised text, the result of a lengthy process of consultation, is before you for finalization and submission to the Conference, as recommended by the Committee on Agriculture. At the same time, the Committee also recommended that the Council and Conference adopt new standards for the harmonization of plant protection measures.

- The Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture which has also held two sessions in six months, mainly to pursue negotiations on the revision of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources so that this effectively mirrors the Convention on Biological Diversity. The revision should facilitate access to genetic resources, better define farmers' rights, ensure the conservation and sustainable utilization of genetic resources and provide for the equitable sharing of resulting benefits. This is a very complex area, but one in which substantial progress has been made and in which early agreement is feasible, on condition that the political will genuinely exists.

    The review of the statutory bodies and panels of experts is also on your agenda. Acting upon the Council's recommendations for greater savings and efficiency in governance, the Programme and Finance Committees formulated guidelines for the conduct and organization of meetings and recommended changes in the calendars of Committees reporting to the Council in Conference years. The overriding idea is that they should contribute more fully towards shaping the Programme of Work and Budget. At their joint meeting in April, the Committees also examined the Secretariat's proposals on the subject of the review of the statutory bodies and panels of experts that had been initiated by the Council in November 1995.

    In this connection, the role of the Secretariat is to provide information, highlight the issues and help reach conclusions. But this exercise falls essentially within the competence of the governing bodies. The Programme and Finance Committees in fact appointed a small working party, based in Rome and chaired by the Permanent Representative of Belgium, to look more closely at the recommendations in the Secretariat's document and to provide the Committees with further guidelines at their session in September 1997.

    The Council will therefore be able to examine the Secretariat's proposals to complete the review process and bring about an effective streamlining of the statutory bodies and panels of experts. The main concern is to turn increasingly to ad hoc bodies with specific tasks and limited time frames rather than to establish statutory bodies that might, after a while, lose sight of their raison d'Ítre.

Mr Chairman, Ladies and Gentlemen,

    The most important item on your agenda is the Summary Programme of Work and Budget 1988-99. In accordance with the recommendations of the Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees in January, the Summary has been prepared on the basis of zero real growth, and supplemented by two further scenarios:

- a real growth option, reinstating the technical and economic programme cuts made in the 1996-97 budget. The Programme and Finance Committees had hoped that the corresponding sums could be restored in the subsequent biennium. This scenario implies an increase of US$ 11 million, all directed towards high priority normative work;

- a zero nominal growth option, which would require us to hold the budget at US$ 650 million, despite cost increases of US$ 39 million. This would entail programme cuts.

    This latter option has been addressed in strict compliance with the Council's criteria for the identification of activities to be cut. The reductions have therefore been concentrated as far as possible in the administrative areas, but without of course being able to repeat the excellent results of the 1996-97 biennium, when 70 percent of the required savings of US$ 57 million were found from gains in efficiency or cuts in the non-technical chapters of the budget.

    The preparation of a zero nominal growth budget is underway, with every effort being made to minimize damage to our programmes, mainly by following the advice of the Programme and Finance Committees on cost increases and the impact of the exchange rate.

    The issue of After Service Medical Coverage needs careful attention. Any agreed move to adopt accepted accounting practices on this matter and fund the actuarial deficit that has accumulated over the last 30 years cannot possibly be at the expense of the Organization's technical programmes. Solutions to this problem need to be explored, for instance by spreading the cost over several biennia, as and when contributions arrears are made available.

    The Programme and Finance Committees also asked me to identify activities that would be eliminated if the budget were below the zero nominal level.

    We need at this point to query the principle of applying blanket zero nominal growth in 1998/99 to all the specialized agencies. Also, consideration should surely be given to the impact of each agency's respective budgetary situation in 1996/97 - some had to take heavy cuts as compared to the 1994-95 biennium and implement painful reductions in personnel, while others experienced a distinct improvement in funding over the same period. Consideration should also be given to the fact that the exchange rate impacts differently, depending on whether an agency's budget is expressed in dollars or in the local currency.

    For FAO, the zero nominal growth budget would mean a reduction close to 6 percent before adjustment for the rate of exchange between the dollar and the lira, and about 4.3 percent at the present rate. The Council should therefore carefully consider the implications of such an option for the Organization's capacity to implement the recommendations of the technical committees and the decisions of the World Food Summit.

    The Council's agenda is thus particularly full and includes some difficult issues. However, the Secretariat must receive the clear guidelines it needs, in particular to finalize the Programme of Work and Budget for the next biennium.

    I wish you every success in your work and hope that the representatives of Member Nations and observers have a pleasant stay in Rome.

Thank you for your kind attention.





Not available in electronic version


Table of contents Next page