This Programme Implementation Report for FAO Governing Bodies sets out the Organization's achievements during the 1998-99 biennium with the resources placed at its disposal, both under Regular Programme Appropriation and under extra-budgetary funding. Several developments took place during this period which will have a long-term impact on FAO activities.
A Strategic Framework to guide the work of FAO until the year 2015 was prepared and approved by the FAO Conference in November 1999. It provides the authoritative blueprint for the Organization's future programmes, which will be articulated in more detail through successive Medium Term Plans and Programmes of Work and Budget. The Strategic Framework was the subject of more extensive consultation within the Secretariat and among FAO stakeholders than any previous document. Members provided inputs to the Framework either directly or at 14 different intergovernmental meetings. FAO's partners, including those in the UN system, NGOs and civil and intergovernmental organizations, reviewed drafts of the document and participated as observers at meetings where it was discussed. This long-term planning effort was accompanied by full-scale application of a new programme model to improve programme planning and presentation and to facilitate appraisal of proposals.
The publication of the first issue of The State of Food Insecurity in the World in 1999 was an important step in the follow-up to the World Food Summit, pointing to a fall in the number of undernourished people in the developing world by 40 million between 1990/92 and 1995/97 to around 790 million. While this was certainly good news, the report raised the concern that hunger was being eliminated too slowly to meet the World Food Summit target of halving the number of undernourished people in the world by 2015. To meet this goal, Members need to redouble efforts to bring the present rate of reduction of approximately 8 million people per year to 20 million per year or more.
The Special Programme for Food Security continued to expand. It was operational in over 50 countries, with formulation undertaken in more than 20 others. The technology packages used on SFPS demonstration plots have shown that yield increases of 200 to 300 percent are possible. To help farmers learn to apply these improved technologies, over 200 field technicians were deployed under South-South Cooperation arrangements. As a result of agreements reached during the 1998-99 biennium, about 1 200 experts and field technicians have been committed to South-South Cooperation components of SPFS projects.
World Food Day and related events such as TeleFood continued to raise public awareness of hunger and to collect funds to fight it. The 1998 and 1999 World Food Day themes - Women Feed the World and Youth Against Hunger - drew particular attention to the contribution of women and young people to achieving global food security. More than 200 personalities from the worlds of cinema, music, science, sport and politics signed the FAO Appeal against World Hunger and four eminent persons, including a Nobel Prize winner, were named FAO Ambassadors. Thanks to the generosity of the public, more than 460 microprojects were initiated from TeleFood proceeds, assisting small communities in over 90 countries around the world to produce more food where it is needed most.
The substantial decentralization carried out since 1994 has resulted in about one-third of the FAO professional workforce being located in offices away from Headquarters. The benefits have become increasingly evident. Technical staff in the Regional and Sub-regional Offices devoted an increasing proportion of their time to assisting member countries with advisory services and technical support services to the field programme.
While much was achieved, it must be remembered that 1998-99 was a period of continued austerity. The Programme of Work and Budget was again approved by the Conference at zero nominal growth, entailing a decrease in real terms of the programmes carried out by the Organization and abolition of over 80 posts, including 24 professional positions. Staff retrenchment was undertaken in consultation with staff associations and was greatly facilitated by the special authority to fund redeployment and separation costs, as approved by the Conference. The introduction of Oracle to replace FINSYS created some short-term difficulties, as staff had to adjust to the new system. It has, however, placed the Organization in a good position to realize significant benefits in the future.
Concerning the format of this document, it will be noted that the full range of FAO programmes is covered. The introduction of a second colour, particularly in tables and graphics, is intended to make the document easier to read and more attractive. Following the pattern of previous years, the list and status of outputs included in the PWB 1998-99 are available on the FAO Internet site.
It is pertinent to observe that this type of ex post facto reporting of achievements is likely to undergo further changes of scope and approach in the future. Application of the new programming framework and the revamped medium-term plan, now firmly grounded in a strategic framework, will substantially affect the basis for reporting implementation results in the Programme Implementation Report. Future issues of this document will inevitably need to change in order to increase its relevance and demonstrate enhanced accountability, as sought by Member Nations.
I trust that Members will find the information in this document interesting, and see it as further proof that the Organization provides good value for money and remains conscious of the need to meet expectations of stakeholders despite budgetary restraint.