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1. As mentioned in the Director-General's Foreword, the Organization sought to deliver its approved programme of work in the face of significant reductions in total resources. Even in nominal terms, FAO experienced a contraction both under the Regular Programme Appropriation and extra-budgetary resources. To put the 1996-97 biennium in perspective, the evolution of total expenditures over the last three biennia is shown in Chart 1.1. It can be seen that the total programme delivery in 1996-97 was some 18 percent less than the 1992-93 level.

 Undisplayed Graphic

2. Despite this climate of overall budgetary constraints, important steps were taken to restore a high profile to food security concerns in the world community and the media, to make sure that FAO's programmes served the sustainable development and food security objectives of Member Nations with concrete contributions, and to pursue internal structural adjustments and modernization of FAO's operations. The substantial efficiency gains and enhanced decentralization which marked the 1996-97 biennium will no doubt assist in making the Organization fully responsive to the needs of its Member Nations in the future.

3. An overall assessment of the Organization's performance in the last biennium is provided in the subsequent Chapter 2. This is expanded upon in Chapter 3 by presenting a summary of activities implemented within established programmes. The highlights are presented below.

Major Events

World Food Summit  

4. Building on an intensive preparatory process and the substantial support obtained from a number of sources, the November 1996 Summit was particularly well attended at the highest political level among Government delegations and by representatives of Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs). It generated considerable media attention. It approved the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and a Plan of Action which are to guide the broad range of actions by all concerned to achieve the goal of reducing the number of undernourished people to half their present level by no later than 2015.

5. The FAO Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and its Inter-sessional Working Group were particularly active in Summit preparations and the CFS was given the important task of monitoring progress in the implementation of the Plan of Action. As mandated by the Summit, the Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information Mapping System (FIVIMS) was launched with the participation of interested partners.

XI World Forestry Congress  

6. This Congress was successfully held in Antalya, Turkey with the assistance from FAO, was well attended (more than 4,000 participants) and was buttressed by a very thorough preparatory process, based on a large number of technical papers. It also received good media attention.

  Fourth International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources  

7. This technical Conference, attended by 150 country delegations and other representatives was held in Leipzig, Germany. It considered the first comprehensive report on the state of plant genetic resources and adopted a Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources, paving the way for active follow-up actions at local and global levels.

  World Food Day  

8. On the occasion of World Food Day 1997, FAO sought to harness the formidable outreach of the televised media, by launching a new initiative of awareness-raising and fund mobilization to support the fight against hunger and malnutrition. The first Telefood experiment was well received in a large number of countries and mobilized from audiences more than US$ 2 million, which are now being deployed in various regions to finance small-scale food security-enhancing projects.

  Contributions to Sustainable Development and Food Security

Special Programme on Food Security (SPFS)  

9. The SPFS continued to spearhead practical action in low-income, food-deficit countries to improve national food security through its established components of water control, intensification of production, diversification and constraints analysis. By the end of 1997, it was operational in 29 countries and was poised to expand further in 1998-99. The Regular Programme provision was instrumental in mobilizing additional resources and catalyzing cooperation from a broad range of partners. A South-South cooperation dimension was added in the 96-97 biennium.

  Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries  

10. Implementation of the Code of Conduct was a major concern under the Major Programme on Fisheries, covering development of guidelines, publications and country-level assistance.

  Other Normative Instruments  

11. FAO was also active in developing and fostering implementation of other key normative instruments, including: the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) the text of which was revised in 1997 increasing the significance of the IPPC to follow-up to the Uruguay Round; the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides, where FAO joined forces with UNEP to turn its Prior Informed Consent (PIC) clause into a legally-binding instrument; and the furtherance of CODEX standards also of great relevance to the Uruguay Round follow-up.

  Integrated Plant Nutrition Systems (IPNS) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM)  

12. Particularly through its field activities, FAO gave due prominence to the application of IPNS and IPM approaches, the latter being supported also through the IPM facility sponsored together with UNEP, UNDP and the World Bank.

  Global Strategy for the Management of Farm Animal Genetic Resources  

13. This Strategy was formulated essentially to spearhead national actions, besides contributing to awareness-building. Its implementation was supported by assisting with the establishment of a growing system of national focal points, the issuance of guidelines and execution of field activities under various components of the Strategy.

  Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS)  

14. The GIEWS continued its comprehensive monitoring work in all regions, including food shortages and potential emergencies through its extensive programme of country assessments missions and the issuance of regular and exceptional reports, which were well appreciated by the donor community.

  Internal FAO Actions


15. Building on the early steps made in the 1994-95 biennium, the Sub-regional Offices and the two additional Liaison Offices became fully operational. A major further measure was the decentralization of field programme operations to the Regional Offices, completing the substantial strengthening of professional teams in these offices.

  FAO's presence on the Internet  

16. Thanks in particular to the wealth of information available through WAICENT and related data-bases and the electronic replacement of the former magazine Ceres, the FAO site on the World Wide Web of the Internet saw an exponential growth of access by users all over the world.

  Implementation of Communication Infrastructure  

17. The major project of extending modern communications infrastructures and network connections to encompass all decentralized offices was virtually completed.

  Further Boost to Partnerships Programmes  

18. While the use of Partnership Programmes (Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries _TCDC_, Technical Cooperation among Countries in Transition _TCCT_, academic institutions and retirees) continued to expand throughout the Organization, a new dimension was added with the aim of fostering national capacities in developing countries by associating young Professionals with the implementation of FAO activities.

  Reorganization of Publications Activities  

19. As part of the major exercise of identification of efficiency savings early in the biennium, the Publications Division (GIP) was abolished. More generally, FAO's publications activities were reorganized towards greater recourse to outsourcing and freedom to user divisions to choose between alternative modalities.

  Reorganization of Administration and Finance Department (AF)  

20. Building on a number of internal studies and inputs from external sources, a reorganization of the AF Department was carried out, leading to more streamlined structures and the necessary adjustment of post descriptions and functional statements to fast-changing technological developments, particularly in the computer services area.

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