1. As stated in the Director-General's Foreword, the Organization sought to deliver its approved programme of work in the face of continued austerity. The Regular Programme Appropriation remained unchanged at US$ 650 million, entailing a decrease in real terms. As shown in Chart 1.1 total expenditure increased by about 3 percent from US$ 1 162 million in 1996-97 to US$ 1 200 million in 1998-99. This was largely the result of a US$ 125 million increase in emergency assistance related to the Iraq Oil-for-Food programme, which contributed to a 16 percent increase in expenditure under Trust Funds and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Expenditure under General and Related Funds, which includes the Regular Programme Appropriation and reimbursements from jointly financed investment activities and support costs, declined by about 5 percent.
2. Despite the budgetary constraints, important steps were taken to place FAO's programmes within a longer term perspective, to ensure that these programmes continued to make contributions to the sustainable development and food security objectives of Member Nations, and to pursue internal structural adjustments and modernization of FAO's operations. An overall assessment of the Organization's performance during the 1998-99 biennium is provided in Chapter 2. This is amplified in Chapter 3 with a summary of activities implemented within established programmes. More detailed information on the implementation of outputs included in the PWB 1998-99 can be found on the FAO Internet site (http://www.fao.org/unfao/bodies/pir/). Some of the highlights are presented below.
3. A Strategic Framework to guide the work of FAO until the year 2015 was prepared through extensive consultation within the Secretariat and among FAO's stakeholders. Members provided inputs to the development of the Framework either directly or at 14 intergovernmental meetings, where successive drafts were considered. FAO's partners, including those in the UN system, NGOs and civil and intergovernmental organizations also reviewed drafts of the document and participated as observers at meetings where it was discussed. Approved by the FAO Conference in November 1999, the Strategic Framework provides guidance for the Organization's future programmes. These programmes will be articulated in more detail through successive Medium Term Plans and Programmes of Work and Budget. 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.
4. The Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure for international trade in hazardous chemicals was adopted at the Conference of Plenipotentiaries held in Rotterdam on 10 September 1998. Its objectives are to promote shared responsibility and cooperation in the international trade of certain hazardous chemicals in order to protect human health and the environment and to contribute to their environmentally sound use. This is to be achieved by facilitating information exchange about their characteristics, providing a national decision-making process on their import and export and informing those concerned of decisions. By the end of 1999, the Convention had been signed by 73 countries and ratified by three.
5. Delegates from 125 countries and several international organizations attended the Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries, held in March 1999. The Rome Declaration on the Implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries was issued, reaffirming the commitment of member countries to work with FAO and other organizations towards optimum sustainable use of world fisheries resources. Support was expressed for FAO's work on developing an International Understanding for Dealing with Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.
6. The Ministerial Meeting on Sustainability Issues in Forestry was convened in March 1999. The 439 delegates from 127 member countries adopted the Rome Declaration on Forestry, pledging to improve forest management in their countries and promote international cooperation to achieve sustainable forest management worldwide.
7. The 1998 and 1999 World Food Day themes - Women Feed the World and Youth Against Hunger - drew attention to the contribution of women and young people to achieving global food security. The FAO Appeal against World Hunger was signed by more than 200 personalities from the worlds of cinema, music, science, sport and politics and four eminent persons, including a Nobel Prize winner, were named FAO Ambassadors. Through generous public support, more than 460 microprojects were initiated from TeleFood proceeds, assisting small communities in over 90 countries to produce more food.
8. The SPFS continued to assist low-income, food-deficit countries (LIFDCs) to improve food security through rapid increases in productivity and food production using economical and sustainable methods, reducing production variation from one year to the next and improving access to food. In 1998-99, the SPFS was operational in 55 countries and proposals were formulated for an additional 22 countries. The Regular Programme provision of US$ 10 million was instrumental in mobilizing additional resources exceeding US$ 80 million in the form of multilateral, bilateral and unilateral contributions from a broad range of donors. South-South cooperation under SPFS expanded rapidly, with over twenty developing countries expressing interest in supporting the programme. Some 1 200 experts and field technicians have been committed, through 12 South-South Cooperation agreeements.
9. The High-Level Consultation on Rural Women and Information brought together ministers of agriculture, ministers of equal opportunity and observers from the United Nations, Inter-Governmental Organizations (IGOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). Held in 1999, with the support of France, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway, the Consultation was instrumental in finalizing the Strategy for action for policies meeting the challenges of both food security and gender equality - the role of information.
10. Priority was given to further developing CODEX standards and strengthening national food quality control systems in relation to international food trade and implementation of the World Trade Organization (WTO)/Uruguay Round agreements. Forty-two new or revised standards, guidelines and recommendations were adopted, including recommended maximum limits for residues of 40 agricultural and veterinary chemicals in foods.
11. The Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System, initiated in response to Commitments Two and Seven of the World Food Summit Plan of Action, reached full operation during the biennium. The FIVIMS-based report The State of Food Insecurity in the World, 1999 was issued, providing improved estimates of the number of undernourished people in developing and developed countries. Guidelines for establishment of national FIVIMS were endorsed by the Committee on World Food Security. Software products for Key Indicator Mapping System and Key Indicator Data System were developed for use at global, regional, and national levels.
12. The International Programme on Technology and Research in Irrigation and Drainage (IPTRID), which transferred to FAO from the World Bank, undertook a review of modern water-control technology and its influence on the quality of irrigation services, identifying applied research, pilot demonstrations and technology transfer opportunities in a number of countries.
13. The special multi-donor EMPRES desert locust programme became operational in the Red Sea area, with technical staff in five countries and liaison officers in six others. Technical assistance was provided to combat locust outbreaks in Madagascar and Kazakhstan and outbreaks of other pests in several African countries. A core activity within EMPRES-Livestock was the Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme (GREP), where progress was made in partnership with countries and major donors such as the European Union and regional organizations. The disease is currently restricted to a small number of areas in South Asia, the Middle East and East Africa. Endorsement was obtained of a five-year framework for intensified action.
14. The GIEWS continued to monitor global food supply and demand, alerting the international community to countries or regions which were likely to face problems. A total of 62 missions were fielded to countries affected by natural or human-induced disasters; 69 alerts and reports were issued for countries or regions threatened by food shortages.
15. The Umbrella Programme for Training in Uruguay Round Follow-up and Multilateral Trade Negotiations on Agriculture was launched in 1998 to assist developing countries in preparing for future multilateral trade negotiations in agriculture, fisheries and forestry. In a cooperative effort of eight Headquarters divisions and the policy assistance branches in decentralized offices, four workshops were held in 1999, involving 57 countries and over 250 participants.
16. The FAO Internet site was improved in terms of quantity and quality of information. The technical infrastructure was expanded to cope with increasing demand for FAO data; visits to the World Agricultural Information Centre (WAICENT) pages reached 6.5 million per month by the end of 1999. Capabilities and procedures were developed for enhancing information availability in all FAO languages and were applied to a number of FAO thematic Internet sites.
17. The Partnership Programmes continued to expand, involving experts under the Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC) and Technical Cooperation among Countries in Transition (TCCT), visiting experts from academic and research institutions, retired experts and young professionals. Over 1 800 technical experts and 32 young professionals were involved in these programmes during the biennium.
18. A Corporate Communications Committee was established in 1999, replacing several former committees, to oversee implementation of the FAO Corporate Communications Policy and Strategy and develop plans for publications to be included in the PWB. Existing categories of information products were revised to make it easier to identify the purpose and target audience of FAO publications. The new categories are advocacy; technical; and newsletters and bulletins.
19. Oracle-based systems to replace FINSYS were implemented for the general ledger, project accounting, accounts payable and receivable and procurement components and for a new travel system. Regional Offices were given access to these systems, while a field accounting system was introduced for the other decentralized offices. In addition, a budget maintenance module and data warehouse facility were made available for forecasting and reporting purposes. Because of the complexity of the change, the Organization experienced a number of implementation problems related to the software and procedures. These were systematically addressed.