1. The Hundred and Sixteenth Session of the Council was held in Rome from 14 to 19 June 1999 under the Chairmanship of Sjarifudin Baharsjah, Independent Chairman of the Council.
2. The Council noted the Declaration of Competence and Voting Rights presented by the European Community.
3. The Council voted to delete from the Provisional Agenda the item: Arrangements for the Appointment of the Director-General. The item had been inserted on the Provisional Agenda at the request of five Members of the Council under Rule XXV.7(b) of the General Rules of the Organization (GRO).
4. The Council adopted the Agenda and Timetable for the Session. The Agenda is given in Appendix A to this Report.
5. The Council elected Vice-Chairpersons for its Session: Ms Birgitte Mřller Christensen (Denmark), Adnan Bashir Khan (Pakistan) and Luis A. Wagner (Paraguay).
6. The Council elected Mrs Neela Gangadharan (India) as Chairperson of the Drafting Committee with the following membership: Australia, Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, France, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Japan, Poland, Qatar, South Africa, Thailand, United Kingdom and United States of America.
7. The Council appreciated the Secretariat document CL 116/2 and generally concurred with its analysis of the current world food situation.
8. The Council:
9. Some Members emphasized the importance they attached to the multifunctional character of agriculture for world food security. Others reiterated the fundamental role that trade liberalization played in achieving food security. The matter was further discussed under Item 12 (see paras 63 to 67 below).
10. The Council endorsed the Report of the Twenty-fifth Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), and stressed that the conclusions and recommendations contained in the Report should be taken into account in the future work of the Committee, particularly in monitoring the implementation process of the WFS Plan of Action. The Council also endorsed the transmission to ECOSOC of the Committee's Report on the Implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action.5
11. The Council noted the change in approach and the use of improved indicators in the assessment of the World Food Security situation by the CFS. It stressed the importance of using indicators such as poverty indices, terms of trade, income distribution, purchasing power and other suitable quantifiable indicators to document the situation regarding access to food across countries and among different sectors of populations within countries. In this connection, the Council agreed on the necessity of developing FIVIMS as an instrument for providing data and decision-making tools for the implementation of the WFS Plan of Action at national, regional and global levels, and urged the Secretariat to give high priority to this area of work. This should be done in cooperation with all relevant international agencies.
12. The Council reaffirmed that the CFS should closely monitor the implementation of the World Food Summit, and expressed appreciation for efforts underway by the Committee for monitoring and evaluating the implementation process of the WFS Plan of Action. It welcomed the reporting format developed during the CFS which provided a basis for all future reporting on the progress of the implementation of the Plan of Action by Governments, UN Agencies and other relevant international institutions. The Council also supported the idea that CFS Sessions in even years be held after the FAO Regional Conferences, in order to take into account the conclusions of such conferences regarding the implementation of the WFS Plan of Action.
13. The Council welcomed the participation of NGOs and Civil Society in the work of CFS. It recognized the important role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in contributing to the national programmes of implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action by mobilising resources and contributing actions for food security, and by promoting awareness of food security issues.
14. The Council reiterated the importance of a favourable macro-economic environment, a peaceful and stable political situation and appropriate sectoral policies to effectively implement the WFS Plan of Action, and urged countries to take concerted efforts in this direction. The Council underlined the need for technical and financial assistance to help developing countries in their efforts to implement the Plan of Action and to reduce the number of the undernourished and food insecure. In this connection, the Council noted the concerns expressed at the decline of overseas development assistance (ODA) to agriculture, especially in the least developed countries where capital resources were a severe constraint. The Council stressed the necessity of devising innovative and effective ways of mobilizing resources for agriculture investment and food security, including from the private sector.
15. The Council noted the support expressed for the FAO Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) which contributed to the implementation of the WFS Plan of Action. It thanked those countries which, through the provision of funds or experts, were collaborating with FAO in the implementation of the SPFS. The Council encouraged increased collaboration to strengthen the effectiveness of the Programme. Donors were invited to assist developing countries in the establishment and operation of National Codex Alimentarius Committees. The Council endorsed the Committee's request regarding the use of languages, as set out in paragraph 26 of its Report.
16. The Council expressed interest in the Havana Declaration adopted by the IV Ibero-American Forum of Ministers of Agriculture held in Havana, 15-17 May 1999.
17. The Council endorsed the Report of the Sixty-second Session of the Committee on Commodity Problems.
18. The Council reaffirmed the need for continued monitoring of the world commodity situation and longer-term prospects. In undertaking this work, it requested that attention be paid to the countries covered by the Marrakesch Decision on Measures Concerning the Possible Negative Effects of the Reform Programme on Least-Developed and Net Food-Importing Developing Countries, as well as on Small Island Developing States.
19. The Council expressed support for the Programme of Work on Assessing the Effects of the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agricultural Markets, and reaffirmed the need for further analysis, particularly of the effects on food security in developing countries, in preparation for the forthcoming round of multilateral trade negotiations.
20. The Council stressed the importance of helping developing countries to prepare for the forthcoming negotiations and welcomed the "Umbrella Programme" of training on the Uruguay Round and Future Negotiations on Agriculture, as well as the Symposium to be held in Geneva in September 1999, with support from the Government of Japan. Several Members suggested that FAO provide further technical assistance to developing countries on issues related to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and on Technical Barriers to Trade. It was suggested that FAO devote more effort to analysing potential trade effects of issues related to biosafety and consumer protection.
21. The Council welcomed results achieved in streamlining the methods of work of the Intergovernmental Commodity Groups and endorsed continued efforts in improving the relevance of their activities, including the adaptation of their work programmes, as appropriate, to the World Food Summit Plan of Action and to changing international trade conditions and disciplines.
22. In regard to commodity development programmes financed by the Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) under the auspices of the Intergovernmental Commodity Groups, concern was expressed at the shift in the CFC's emphasis from grant to loan-financing. It was suggested that FAO, in cooperation with the CFC, should analyse the cost-effectiveness of projects and should also ensure wide dissemination of the results to Members.
23. The Council noted the establishment of the Tropical Fruits Network (TFNET) hosted by Malaysia, and the invitation extended to all FAO Members to join the Network.
24. The Council considered and adopted the Report of the Fifteenth Session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG). It endorsed COAG's vision of better integration of technical programmes and a sharpened role for FAO in shaping international legislation and instruments that affected agriculture. The emphasis in COAG's Report on expanding partnerships, to reduce duplication and optimize use of human and financial resources, was supported. The Council recognized the need for FAO to maintain a balanced programme of work, providing technical assistance through a well-focussed, demand-driven field programme, as well as the need for providing policy advice, information exchange, and harmonized standards, in line with its normative role.
25. In particular, the Council appreciated the need for FAO to have a coherent programme on agricultural biotechnology to assist Member Nations in obtaining the full benefits of new developments while minimizing risks. FAO's role as a forum for the discussion of issues and for standard-setting, and as an `honest broker' of quality science-based information, through mechanisms such as the International Plant Protection Commission (IPPC) and Codex Alimentarius, was underscored in general, and in relation to biotechnology in particular.
26. Similarly, the Council underlined the importance of the new cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary initiatives proposed on organic agriculture and urban and peri-urban agriculture. FAO's key supporting role in organic agriculture, especially with regard to product certification and market information was acknowledged. The contribution of urban and peri-urban agriculture to food security was also recognized. FAO's increased attention to this area in collaboration with other partners was urged. Members stressed that `mainstreaming' gender issues should remain a priority within the broad range of FAO's activities. The Council also urged increased focus on the special needs for capacity-building on technical, legislative and trade-related matters, in particular in relation to the Uruguay Round and the forthcoming multilateral trade negotiations. The Council endorsed COAG's focus on information data and information systems development, including inter alia marketing and decision support tools. Many Members also stressed the need to give increased attention to animal genetic resources.
27. The Council expressed its appreciation for the work carried out by the Committee on Fisheries and endorsed the Report of its Twenty-third Session. It also noted that FAO had a comparative advantage in fisheries and played a key role in global fisheries issues.
28. The Council stressed the fundamental importance of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in promoting sustainability in the fisheries sector and urged all countries to intensify their efforts to promote the effective implementation of the Code. The importance of developing indicators to evaluate implementation, and the requirement for simplified questionnaires, was agreed by the Council. The Council further stressed the need for FAO, relevant international organizations and financial institutions to continue their support to developing countries, countries in transition and Small Island Developing States, for the implementation of the Code of Conduct. The timeliness of the assistance provided to West Africa in supporting the implementation of the Code was appreciated.
29. The Council endorsed the three International Plans of Action (IPOA) for: Reducing Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries, Conservation and Management of Sharks, and Management of Fishing Capacity. The Council recognized that the three IPOAs would serve to implement important aspects of the Code of Conduct and agreed that steps should be taken, as soon as possible, to facilitate their implementation. As a first step, the Council welcomed the Technical Consultation to be held in Mexico in November 1999 concerning the Measurement and Assessment of Fishing Capacity.
30. The Council noted that illegal, unauthorized and unreported fishing (IUU), including fishing by vessels flying "flags of convenience", undermined conservation and management measures in fisheries. The Council agreed that a global approach be taken by FAO to develop a strategy to address the problem of IUU, noting that this initiative should be carried forward through the development of an IPOA within the framework of the Code of Conduct. The Council urged countries that had not yet accepted the Compliance Agreement to do so as soon as possible.
31. The importance of promoting integrated resource management, including inland capture fisheries and aquaculture, as well as the protection of inland water bodies, was underscored by the Council as a means of facilitating sustainability in these fisheries. This management would contribute to enhancing the role of these fisheries in food security and poverty alleviation and would have other social and economic benefits.
32. The Council endorsed the establishment of a COFI Sub-Committee on Aquaculture.
33. The Council recognized that eco-labelling was controversial and that FAO should continue its work in this area. The Council underscored the need to ensure that any eco-labelling scheme was transparent, voluntary, non-discriminatory and that it not be used to restrict trade. The Council recommended that FAO should contribute to the work of the World Trade Organization's Committee on Trade and Environment and other bodies to help ensure that fish trade did not compromise responsible fisheries management.
34. The Council stressed the importance of FAO intensifying its work with developing Members to strengthen capacity-building in the fisheries sector and to further strengthen regional fishery bodies.
35. The Council noted that greater consideration should be given to the development of more appropriate eco-system approaches to fisheries development and management.
36. The Council noted that a recommendation concerning the award winner for the Margarita Lizárraga Medal would be made at the Hundred and Seventeenth Session of the Council (Rome, 9-11 November 1999). It was agreed by the Council that FAO should produce a biography to underline the significance of Dr Lizárraga's contribution to the fisheries sector, particularly in promoting the Code of Conduct.
37. The Council urged that adequate resources be made available to the Fisheries Department to enable it to effectively carry out its increasing workload in accordance with the priorities of the Committee on Fisheries.
38. The Director-General was congratulated on his initiative in convening the Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries in March 1999. The Council agreed that the Rome Declaration on the Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, adopted by the Meeting, would serve to promote sustainability in fisheries.
39. The Council considered the report of the Fourteenth Session of COFO, together with the report of the Ministerial Declaration on Forestry. The Council endorsed the COFO report, highlighting the increased importance being given to forestry matters in recent years, in line with the global policy dialogue on forests after UNCED. The Council urged that adequate resources be made available to forestry, in accordance with the global, regional and national needs of the forestry sector, and that higher prominence should be given to forestry in the FAO Strategic Framework.
40. The Council recognized that FAO had played an important role in supporting the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) and UNCED follow-up. The Council stressed the need to assist in the intergovernmental efforts to reach a consensus on arrangements and mechanisms for the sustainable development of all types of forests, to facilitate regional processes of criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management and to build national capacity for the development of national forest programmes. The Council highlighted the need for increased activities in support of: countries with low forest cover; prevention, monitoring and control of forest fires; forest resources assessment; collection and analysis of data and conducting outlook studies; and contribution of forestry to food security and to poverty alleviation.
41. As COFO did not reach a consensus on the Host Country for the Twelfth World Forestry Congress, the Council considered submissions from Canada and Guatemala which had offered to host the Congress. The Council then elected Canada to host the Twelfth World Forestry Congress in 2003. The representative of Canada expressed appreciation to the Council for the opportunity to organize the event and confirmed that the venue would be Quebec City.
42. The Council expressed deep appreciation to both candidate countries for their interest in hosting this important event, and recognized that it had faced a difficult choice in view of the high quality of the facilities and services offered by the candidate countries.
43. A report by Ambassador Fernando Gerbasi, Chairman of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, on progress in the negotiations for the revision of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources, that had been requested by the previous session of the Council, was read by Commission Vice-Chairman Ronald Rose (Canada). The Secretary of the Commission then introduced the Report of its Eighth Regular Session (Rome, 19-23 April 1999).
44. The Council noted with satisfaction that, in accordance with the mandate it had given to Ambassador Gerbasi at its Hundred and Fifteenth Session (Rome, 23-28 November 1998), he had convened an informal meeting of experts, in Montreux, Switzerland, in January 1999. The discussions that had taken place there had enabled him to draw up a series of Chairman's Elements, reflecting a broad consensus which the Commission decided to use as the basis for its subsequent negotiations, as well as a Composite Draft Text. Ambassador Gerbasi reported that very significant progress had been made during the Commission's last session. He believed that the necessary grounds existed to continue the negotiations, and that countries had the political will to reach a broad consensus.
45. The Council thanked Ambassador Gerbasi for his continuing efforts to bring the negotiations to a successful conclusion.
46. The Council supported the work of the Commission, and endorsed the Report of its Eighth Regular Session and its recommendations.
47. It endorsed, in particular, the high priority that had been given to completing the negotiations of the Undertaking. It fully supported the Commission's mandate for Ambassador Gerbasi to convene, in consultation with the Director-General, meetings of the Contact Group, as well as an Extraordinary Session of the Commission to adopt the final text. Both sets of meetings would be subject to the availability of funds.
48. The Council noted that extrabudgetary funds would be needed for this negotiating process, including to facilitate the participation of developing countries. It urged donors to make adequate funds available in order to move forward as rapidly as possible. During the session, one Member announced that it would be making a contribution, and another Member stated that it was considering doing so. The Council thanked both Members warmly, and encouraged other donors to come forward.
49. The Council appealed to countries to show flexibility and a spirit of compromise and to maintain and increase the momentum so that the revised Undertaking might, at the latest, be submitted to the Hundred and Nineteenth Session of the Council in November 2000. It recommended that a report on progress in the negotiations be considered by the Conference at its Thirtieth Session in November 1999.
50. The Council agreed with the high priority that had been given to convening a meeting of the Commission's Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, in the forthcoming biennium, in order to develop further the Global Strategy for the Management of Farm Animal Genetic Resources. In particular, the Working Group would coordinate the preparation of the first Report on the State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources, for which purpose extrabudgetary resources would be required. It urged donors to make the necessary funds available.
51. In accordance with the priorities recommended at the Commission's Eighth Session, the Council expressed the hope that the Intergovernmental Technical Working Group on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture would be able to meet in the next biennium.
52. The Council noted that the Commission, at its next regular session, would consider a report on the status of the draft Code of Conduct on Biotechnology as it Relates to Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, and the Code of Conduct for Plant Germplasm Collecting and Transfer.
53. In approving the Report of the Executive Board, the Council expressed appreciation for the concise and informative description of the activities carried out in 1998. The Council commended the frankness and transparency that characterized the dialogue between the Executive Board and the Secretariat of WFP, and praised the open consultation processes that had taken place in such instances as the review of the Resource and Long-term Financing Policies and the Food Aid and Development Consultations. Furthermore, the Council strongly supported the programme of visits to the field by Members of the Board. The visits were noted to be beneficial in broadening the Members' understanding of WFP programmes, projects and operations and an opportunity to see, first hand, the implementation of the policies emanating from the Board.
54. The Council deeply regretted that so many WFP staff had lost their lives in the course of their duties and supported WFP's efforts to address matters of staff security, including by providing security awareness training.
55. While recognizing the increase in both the level of assistance and the number of beneficiaries reached in 1998, the Council reiterated the need to maintain a balance in resource allocation between development and emergency assistance, and called for a consultation on the strengthening of the multilateral character of the Programme. The Council noted with appreciation WFP's role in the UN Reform Process and its active collaboration with FAO and IFAD. As regards the suggestion that the Governing Bodies of the Rome-based organizations hold a joint meeting, Council Members felt that this would require further examination.
56. The Council welcomed WFP and FAO efforts to pay special attention to avoid duplication of efforts in matters of vulnerability mapping.
57. The Council endorsed the proposed amendments to Article XIII, paragraph 2, and Appendix B of the General Regulations of the World Food Programme and decided to transmit them to the Conference for approval (see Appendix D to this Report). In so doing, the Council expressed appreciation for the efforts of the Rome-based Working Group on Distribution of Seats in reaching a consensus position in parallel with its counterpart in New York, and praised the work of the Chairperson Mrs Laurie Tracy (USA) who skilfully led the negotiations to a fruitful conclusion.
58. The Council examined the document prepared by the Secretariat (CL 116/11) and generally endorsed the arrangements proposed. With respect to the Provisional Agenda, the Council agreed that sub-item 22.2 Introduction of the Long Term Care Insurance Scheme should be deleted since the matter was not yet ready for consideration by Conference.
59. The Council agreed to submit to the Conference for approval the Provisional Agenda as amended, the tentative Timetable and the Arrangements outlined in the draft document, and in particular recommended that
60. The Council felt that it could not at this stage agree on the arrangements to schedule a separate meeting to permit interaction among Ministers. It requested the Joint Meeting of the Programme Committee and the Finance Committee to review the issue again under its standing item on Savings and Efficiencies in Governance. The Council recognized that it would not be possible to implement the results of the Joint Meeting review at the Thirtieth Session of the Conference in November 1999.
61. The Council decided to establish the deadline for the receipt of nominations for Independent Chairman of the Council, at 12.00 hours on Friday 20 August 1999.
62. The Council noted that consultations had taken place among Heads of Delegations represented at the Council Session and that there was consensus on the following designations:
|- Chairperson of Conference||Algeria|
|- Chairperson of Commission I||Italy|
|- Chairperson of Commission II||India|
Following consultations by the Director-General regarding the availability of the nominated persons, the Council would make definitive nominations to the Conference for these posts.
63. The Council reaffirmed its strong support for the initiative taken by the Government of the Netherlands to organize an international technical conference on the multifunctional character of agriculture and land, and welcomed the technical support being provided by FAO to the process. Members recognized that this Conference would provide an important high-level technical forum for increasing international understanding of both the scope and significance of the multifunctional character of agriculture and land, and would contribute significantly to FAO's inputs to the Eighth Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD). Several Members highlighted the complexity of conceptual questions surrounding the issue. Other Members underscored the important practical significance of the issue for all Member Nations.
64. The Permanent Representative of the Netherlands provided information on the preparations for the Conference, in particular on the range and level of proposed participation and the participation of NGOs throughout the process. Finally, he also supplied Members with information regarding the Partner Seminar being organized by the Government of The Netherlands, the Government of South Africa and IFAD in July 1999. The Permanent Representative and the FAO Secretariat underscored the technical nature of the Conference.
65. Members declared their interest in contributing actively to the preparatory process and to the Conference in Maastricht itself. The Council recalled the direct relationship between the initiative and UNCED and the World Food Summit, and recognized the link with FAO's responsibilities as Task Manager for reporting on Chapters 10 and 14 to the Eighth Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-8).
66. The Council noted that the Maastricht Conference would produce a brief Summary Report and a full Conference Report for wide-ranging distribution. The full Conference Report would consist of: i) an extended technical section based on the various inputs; ii) summaries of the discussions; and iii) the main findings and conclusions.
67. The Council recommended that the Summary Report be submitted to the Hundred and Seventeenth Session of the FAO Council for information and guidance, and to the Thirtieth Session of the FAO Conference for information. Finally, the Council proposed that the Hundred and Seventeenth Session of the Council be called upon to consider the status of the Summary Report submitted to the Thirtieth Session of the FAO Conference, and to decide whether, in the light of the substance of the Summary Report, the status should be upgraded to that of a document for discussion and decision.
68. The Council noted with appreciation that the Ministerial Conference on Small Island Developing States (SIDS) had been convened by FAO in March 1999, and commended the Secretariat for its excellent work in preparing the documents and in facilitating the revision of the Draft Plan of Action on Agriculture in SIDS subsequent to the Conference. It noted that the Ministerial Declaration on Agriculture in Small Island Developing States, adopted by the Ministerial Conference, served as an introduction to the Plan of Action.
69. The Council welcomed that the Plan of Action, by focusing on the specific problems of agriculture, including fisheries and forestry, identified key actions needed to overcome food insecurity and vulnerability of SIDS within the framework of social and economic development. It underlined the importance of the five commitments contained in the Plan: adjusting to changes in the global trading environment; working towards a more intensified, diversified and sustainable agriculture; meeting fisheries' needs; ensuring sustainable management of land, water and forestry resources and environmental protection; and capacity building and institutional strengthening.
70. The Council unanimously adopted the Plan of Action on Agriculture for Small Island Developing States and requested the Director-General to submit it to the Special Session of the UN General Assembly in September 1999 for consideration in its review of the implementation of the Barbados Programme of Action.
71. The Council recommended that the implementation of the Plan of Action be accorded high priority and, in this context, appealed to international organizations and the donor community to enhance their support to SIDS Members. The Council noted with appreciation the generous offers of funding support made by several Members. It was also mentioned that effective coordination among various partners is requested in the implementation of the Plan of Action.
1 CL 116/1; CL 116/1-Add.1; CL 116/1 (a); CL 116/INF/1-Rev.1; CL 116/PV/1; CL 116/PV/9.
2 CL 116/INF/9; CL 116/PV/1; CL 116/PV/9.
3 CL 116/2; CL 116/PV/3; CL 116/PV/4; CL 116/PV/9.
4 CL 116/10; CL 116/PV/3; CL 116/PV/4; CL 116/PV/9.
5 CFS/LIM/1 "Implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action: Report of the Committee on World Food Security through the FAO Council to ECOSOC".
6 CL 116/6; CL 116/PV/6; CL 116/PV/9.
7 CL 116/9; CL 116/PV/6; CL 116/PV/9.
8 CL 116/7; CL 116/INF/19; CL 116/PV/7; CL 116/PV/9.
9 CL 116/8; CL 116/INF/18; CL 116/PV/7; CL 116/PV/9.
10 CL 116/8-Sup.1; CL 116/8-Sup.2; CL 116/PV/7; CL 116/PV/9.
11 CL 116/INF/8; CL 116/LIM/5; CL 116/PV/6; CL 116/PV/9.
12 CL 116/13; CL 116/PV/7; CL 116/PV/9.
13 CL 116/17; CL 116/17-Sup.1; CL 116/21; CL 116/PV/7; CL 116/PV/9.
14 CL 116/4 (paras 27-31); CL 116/11; CL 116/INF/5; CL 116/INF/9; CL 116/PV/8; CL 116/PV/9.
15 CL 116/INF/17; CL 116/PV/8; CL 116/PV/9.
16 CL 116/18; CL 116/PV/8; CL 116/PV/9.