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Director-General's Foreword

I have the pleasure of submitting the fourth Programme Evaluation Report, containing in-depth reviews of three selected programmes (Programmes on Agricultural Support Systems and Forest Resources, and Major Programme on Support to Investment), a thematic evaluation of TCP projects in support of food quality control, and a thematic review of participatory approaches used in FAO.

The Programme Evaluation Report is intended to facilitate Member Nations in making their own assessment on the relevance, achievement and usefulness of selected programmes and activities of the Organization. In this connection, it may be noted that further efforts have been made to improve the analytical content and presentation of programme reviews, building on those features welcomed by the Governing Bodies. In particular, I am pleased that the reviews presented in this report have been marked with a greater degree of dialogue between the programme managers and their staff on the one hand and the Evaluation Service staff on the other, as evidenced in comments included in each chapter. Such dialogue enhances credibility of the findings and recommendations of programme reviews, while better facilitating the drawing of lessons for future improvements. I welcome as well the initiative taken on the use of external peer review on a pilot basis - this practice is a useful and cost-effective means for bringing external expertise into the review content as well as in improving transparency and adding perspective to the process.

The reviews contained in the report show that these programmes and activities have generally been productive in providing Member Nations and the international community with both normative and operational services of high quality. It is evident in particular that a reorientation towards normative functions has been initiated successfully in technical programmes, that operational work in investment support and TCP assistance have been providing significant catalytic services, and that very productive collaboration has been maintained with a range of external partners. At the same time, the reviews indicate clearly the sharp decline in the Field Programme in the recent biennia as well as the adverse effects of successive reductions in the Regular Programme resources. Similarly, the need is evident to improve our programme planning and implementation monitoring in general. As you know, these latter issues are being addressed through the ongoing in-house exercises on strategic planning and programme planning improvement.

As I have said before, I attach high priority to effective use of evaluation in FAO as part of our management process - it should contribute to our continuous efforts to improve the relevance, usefulness and cost-effectiveness of FAO programmes; it should strengthen our knowledge base for planning and managing our activities; and it should also play an important part in bringing transparency and discipline in the way we conduct our business. As the Organization changes, our evaluation system must also adapt to new challenges and needs. This is particularly so in the context of major planning and programming changes being introduced in the house. I intend to ensure that we continue to strive for such improvements, so as to have a more useful and cost-effective evaluation system in the Organization.

In this spirit, I submit the fourth Programme Evaluation Report to the Conference, and I look forward to a fruitful debate on this subject, including constructive suggestions and guidance for future improvements in this report.

Jacques Diouf


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