CL 120/9


Hundred and Twentieth Session

Rome, 18-23 June 2001


Rome, 26-30 March 2001

Table of Contents


The attention of the Council is drawn to the Committee's discussion on:

Programme Implementation Report 1998-1999 (paras. 6-9)


Medium-Term Plan 2002-2007 (paras. 10-27)


Climate Variability and Change: a Challenge for Sustainable Agricultural Production (paras. 28-34)


Reducing Agricultural Vulnerability to Storm-related Disasters (paras. 35-39)


Biosecurity in Food and Agriculture (paras. 40-47)


The Place of Agriculture in Sustainable Development: the Way Forward on SARD (paras. 48-56)




1. The Sixteenth Session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) (Rome, 26-30 March 2001) was attended by representatives of 102 Members of the Committee, and by observers from five other Member Nations of FAO. Also participating were observers from one United Nations Member State, the Holy See and the Sovereign Order of Malta, representatives of four United Nations specialized agencies and observers from 45 non-governmental organizations having status with FAO, and from one institute of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research. The countries and organizations represented at the session are shown in Appendix C.

2. Mr David A. Harcharik, Deputy Director-General, made a statement on behalf of the Director-General, which is attached as Appendix D.


3. In accordance with Rule I of its Rules of Procedure, the Committee elected Mr Paul Ross of Australia as the Chairperson of the Committee, Mr Nuri Ibrahim Hasan of Libya as the First Vice-Chairperson and Mr Abdellatif Guedira of Morocco as the Second Vice-Chairperson.

4. The Committee also appointed the following members to the Drafting Committee: Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde, Cyprus, India, Japan, Jordan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand, Sudan, Sweden and Tunisia. Ms Neela Gangadharan of India chaired the Drafting Committee.


5. Based on the intervention made by a group of Members, a slight modification was proposed to the Agenda and Timetable, in order for the Members to consider further information on the agenda item on the Medium Term Plan. It was agreed, therefore, that the discussion on Item 4, the Medium Term Plan (2002-2007), would be moved to Tuesday 27 March 2001 to allow delegations more time to review document COAG/01/LIM.1, which was distributed on 26 March and to discuss Item 5, Climate Variability and Change: A Challenge for Sustainable Agricultural Production, and Item 6, Reducing Agricultural Vulnerability to Storm-related Disasters, on the first day. Responding to a query, the Chairperson clarified that comments on the information documents could be made under the agenda item, Other Business. With this modification, the Agenda and Timetable were adopted. Under this point, a group of Members also welcomed the convening of the NGO-CSO-Government Forum on SARD during the COAG, and proposed that its Chairpersons report on the outcome of the Forum to COAG.



6. The Committee welcomed and gave its general approval to the document, which highlighted the main achievements of FAO programmes during the period under review. Some members requested that information on programme implementation at the regional and national levels should also be reported. The Committee looked forward to future reporting within the context of the new programming model, particularly with respect to indicators of achievement. The Committee suggested that the Report could be further improved by highlighting, for each Major Programme, significant outputs achieved, shortfalls and linkages with other programmes and stakeholders, and suggested that more attention be given to strengthening and evaluating linkages between normative and field activities for improved cohesiveness and relevance of programmes.

7. The Committee appreciated the increasingly interdisciplinary approach to programme implementation both within and between Departments. It drew attention to the large number of methodologies and guidelines produced and urged that greater attention be given to their targeting, field-testing and evaluation. The Committee underlined the importance of disseminating information and welcomed the increased use by FAO of the Internet to make technical information available.

8. The Committee expressed appreciation that work had been initiated or expanded during the 1998-99 biennium on emerging priority issues. Particular reference was made, by various Members, to capacity building for the Uruguay Round follow-up and WTO trade negotiations, the Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System (FIVIMS), food safety and Codex Alimentarius, as well as the Special Programme on Food Security, land and water management, plant and animal genetic resources, medfly and tsetse fly eradication and the Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme. Several Members pointed to the need for a more balanced resource allocation between agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Some members expressed concern about the delay in finalizing revision of the International Undertaking in Plant Genetic Resources prior to the next session of FAO Conference in November 2001.

9. Some Members drew attention to the current concerns over Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) and Foot and Mouth Disease and the threat that these diseases could pose to international trade and food security.

B. MEDIUM-TERM PLAN 2002-20072

10. The Committee welcomed the document, which had been prepared within the new planning framework. It appreciated the efforts made towards adopting a "results-based" methodology and providing more specific information on outputs and achievement indicators. The Committee requested additional information to better clarify the linkages between past performance and future outputs.

11. Several Members noted that relative resource levels, both regular programme and extra-budgetary, which must be estimated, were important indicators of priorities and shifts of emphasis. However, they found that the information provided in the MTP, supplemented by COAG/01/LIM.1, did not adequately explain the changes in programme structure and resource allocations at the entity level. A number of Members requested explanations for proposed resource shifts and indications of projected extra-budgetary resources to facilitate the review of relative priorities by the technical committees of Council in the future. Some Members requested that an alternative budget scenario, based on a zero nominal growth, be provided for the PWB 2002/03. Other Members requested a real growth budget.

12. Some Members felt that, if there was to be a structural change in the way technical committees reviewed the planning and budgetary process, there was a necessity to develop a larger consensus among Member Nations. This implied discussion within and amongst regional groups.

13. Several Members expressed regret at the scarcity of information on priorities and resource allocations at the regional level, and in the interest of transparency, requested that the Secretariat take appropriate measures to provide such information for future MTPs and biennial PWBs.

14. The Committee endorsed the approach embodied in Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action (PAIAs) and agreed that the selection of proposed PAIAs address high priority emerging issues. The Secretariat informed the Committee of the proposed organizational arrangements for their implementation. The Committee noted that the Agriculture Department, the Economic and Social Department and the Sustainable Development Department had a leadership role for most of the PAIAs and that the related outputs were embodied in their respective programme entities.

15. The Committee expressed concern about the insufficient speed of progress in combating hunger and malnutrition, which is a key element of poverty alleviation. In this context, the Committee generally supported the balance between the three Major Agricultural Programmes as an appropriate response to address Members' needs. Delegations highlighted common cross-cutting approaches including information management, capacity building, policy analysis and assistance, and gender mainstreaming. The Committee urged that cooperation and synergies be further developed within FAO and with other agencies and institutions including NGOs, CSOs and the private sector, while emphasizing the need to avoid overlapping and duplication of work. It underlined the need for balance between normative and field activities, and some Members called for strengthening of the field programmes.

16. The Committee generally endorsed the priorities of the Major Programme 2.1: Agricultural Production and Support Systems. It emphasized the importance of integrated planning and management of land and water resources, especially in drought-prone regions and on marginal lands. It also supported work on improved water utilisation in agriculture including small-scale irrigation, and the promotion of conservation agriculture techniques to increase soil fertility and combat soil erosion.

17. The Committee agreed with the emphasis on integrated production systems, seed production and security, alternative crops and cultivars, and crop and livestock diversification. It requested that information be made available, and techniques and protocols developed, to facilitate the use of agricultural biotechnologies by developing countries and emphasised FAO's role as a neutral forum for such information. The Committee supported programmes to promote entrepreneurship in agriculture, agribusiness and agricultural support services, including marketing, as a contribution to sustainable rural livelihoods, increasing small farmer income and meeting urban food needs.

18. The Committee endorsed the continuing efforts to prevent the introduction and spread of plant and animal pests and diseases, including locusts, Rinderpest, Typanosomiasis and Foot and Mouth Disease through the Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES) and related activities and mechanisms. It accorded high priority to the development of phytosanitary standards through the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and technical assistance for their implementation. Several Members called for increased attention to veterinary public health, food/feed safety and zoonoses.

19. The Committee confirmed the importance of work on conservation and utilisation of plant and animal genetic resources. It called on Members to ensure that the revision of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources be completed successfully prior to the Thirty-first Session of the FAO Conference.

20. The Committee noted the important role of Major Programme 2.2: Food and Agriculture Policy and Development in, inter alia, raising awareness of the benefits of combating hunger and malnutrition as key elements of poverty reduction strategies. It supported the priority given to Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System (FIVIMS).

21. The Committee recognized the need for FAO to strengthen capacity-building activities aimed at enabling developing countries to participate as well-informed and equal partners in multilateral trade negotiations on agriculture, including commodity market and policy analyses, support to policy formulation, standard-setting, and provision of information.

22. The Committee noted that increasing awareness of food safety and concern about food-borne risks required intensified efforts to promote food safety as an element of food quality at national and international levels, particularly through the CODEX mechanism. Delegates gave priority to risk analysis of foods derived from biotechnologies, microbiological contaminants, and to information systems for rapid alert and crisis management.

23. The Committee endorsed the continuing efforts being made to improve the quality and coverage of statistical data. It supported the continued development of the World Agricultural Information Center (WAICENT) as an integrated information system, in all FAO languages, including the use of fast-changing technologies for the benefit of Member Countries.

24. The Committee generally supported Major Programme 2.5: Contributions to Sustainable Development and Special Programme Thrusts. It underlined the importance of sustainable rural development as a key to food security and recommended strengthening programmes and institutions with particular focus on small-scale farmers. It also stressed the importance of work on gender in agricultural and rural development, and gender mainstreaming in all programmes of the Organization.

25. The Committee recognized the importance of programmes on natural resources, environmental management and conservation, and the need for follow-up on international environmental agreements. It acknowledged the role of integrated use of information and capacity-building in this respect.

26. The Committee stressed the serious negative impact of HIV/AIDS on food security and urged that measures be taken to address the resulting decline in labour productivity and agricultural production. It welcomed the fact that this important subject will be treated in depth during the next Committee on Food Security (CFS) meeting in May 2001.

27. Many Members expressed support for the Special Programme on Food Security (SPFS). In response to some requests for a thorough and independent evaluation of the SPFS, the Secretariat informed the Committee that such an evaluation was planned for 2001, to report to the Programme Committee in May 2002.


28. The Committee commended the Secretariat for the preparation of a comprehensive document on FAO's long-standing involvement in matters related to climate variability and change, as well as its ongoing activities and proposed plans in the area.

29. The Committee stressed the need for the Organization to continue to be a neutral forum on this issue. It underlined that the role of the Organization is to provide technical inputs, focusing on such issues as data, definitions and methodologies related to agriculture and climate change. Caution should be exercised when dealing with subjects such as carbon sinks, where differing positions were expressed by the Members.

30. The Committee supported the proposal by the Secretariat to develop an integrated climate change programme based on current activities, within Regular Budget provisions, and consistent with the legal and political framework of the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the technical work of the IPCC. This includes the promotion of practices for climate change mitigation, the adaptation of agricultural systems to climate change, the reduction of emissions from the agricultural sector as far as it is carefully considered within the major objective of ensuring food security, the development of practices aimed at increasing the resilience of agricultural production systems to the vagaries of weather and climate change, national and regional observing systems, as well as data and information collection and dissemination.

31. The Committee called on FAO to assist Members, in particular developing countries, which are vulnerable to climate change, to enhance their capacities to confront the negative impacts of climate variability and change on agriculture.

32. In order to make best use of synergies, the Committee stressed the need for FAO to collaborate on technical matters with the secretariat and subsidiary bodies of the UNFCCC, the IPCC, sister agencies such as the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the Secretariats and subsidiary bodies of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) and the Convention to Combat Desertification (CCD), as well as regional organizations, while avoiding duplication of work.

33. The Committee supported the view that the ad hoc Interdepartmental Working Group on Climate Change and Variability in Relation to Food Security should be formalized, thereby strengthening the cross-sectoral coordination and implementation of the FAO climate programme. A stronger collaboration between the Agriculture, Fisheries, Forestry, and Sustainable Development Departments should also be reflected by the respective Departments addressing climate issues in a harmonized way. The Organization will take advantage of the inter-departmental working group mechanism to report back to COAG.

34. The Committee took note of the proposal by several African countries to establish drought and climate change observatories, as well as the need to increase synergies by networking the observatories at the regional level.


35. The Committee noted that storm-related disasters had been increasing in frequency and intensity during the past decade. It was noted that the increase in the scale of disasters was not only attributable to nature but also to increasing population pressures and lack of alternative employment and income opportunities, which force more and more people to live and obtain their livelihood through farming and fishing in vulnerable and dangerous areas such as flood plains, coastal areas and unstable hillsides. It was underlined that there is the need for distinguishing between disasters caused by nature and those by acts of man.

36. The Committee observed that most storm-related disasters occur in developing countries, which often do not have the wealth, infrastructure and institutional capacity to protect their people against tropical storms. In particular, disasters in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) often turn out to be of a national scale in their impact, owing to the small size of these countries. The Committee also recognized that it is the poor who suffer most from storm and flood-related disasters. Apart from the immediate results - death, injury, hunger and starvation - disasters make the poor even poorer, destroy expensive long-term development projects such as communication infrastructure, irrigation and other farming infrastructure, as well as sources of energy.

37. The Committee commended FAO for its support to developing countries to strengthen their national disaster management capacity. It stressed that assistance to rehabilitate agriculture and livelihood systems and resume development activities was important in restoring the wellbeing of the people affected by disasters. The Committee expressed full support to the PAIA on Disaster Prevention, Mitigation and Preparedness and Post-Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation set out in the Organization's Medium-Term Plan 2002-2007.

38. The Committee agreed that each vulnerable country or region needed to develop a strategy which effectively incorporated long-term measures for reducing vulnerability as part of its overall development programme, combined with a preparedness plan comprising early warning and storm forecasting, as well as short-term measures to respond rapidly to storm-related disasters. It recommended that such a strategy should be developed on the basis of land-use evaluations, vulnerability and risk assessments, inventory of traditional community land and water management practices and local coping strategies, as well as an assessment and identification of crop, livestock, fisheries and forestry practices and farming systems suitable for vulnerable areas. It was stressed that the strategy should take into account environment and gender issues. The Committee underlined that the implementation of the strategy would require a sound coordination of policies and programmes at local, national, regional and international levels. The Committee noted opportunities for cooperation on disaster relief and prevention related to food and agriculture among countries, and supported FAO's efforts to facilitate this cooperation.

39. The Committee endorsed the recommendations contained in paragraphs 51-59 of the background document, relating to measures to be undertaken by countries, the FAO Secretariat and the international community, to reduce the vulnerability of agriculture to storm-related disasters. The Committee emphasized that FAO's role should focus more on early warning and forecasting, capacity building, promoting transfer of technology, and, when required, supporting coordination of policies at sub-regional and regional levels, particularly in countries sharing common river basins. The Committee welcomed that the FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific planned to hold "Asia Pacific Conference on Early Warning, Prevention, Preparedness and Management of Disasters in Food and Agriculture" in mid-June 2001 in Thailand.


40. The Committee appreciated the proactive nature of the paper COAG/01/8, but raised a number of questions concerning the term, "biosecurity", and FAO's proposed activities in this area. The Committee noted that the term, biosecurity, needed to be better defined and described. Some Members indicated that the paper needed more precision and should reflect the specific aims of the PAIA on Biosecurity contained in the Organization's MTP. Furthermore, some Members stated that FAO should exercise prudence with regard to how it presented the potential capacity of biotechnology to solve food security problems.

41. The Committee noted the wide range of activities of FAO in the three sectors of biosecurity for agriculture, fisheries and forestry (food safety, animal health and life, plant health and life). It expressed its appreciation for the leadership role of FAO in two of the international standard setting mechanisms recognized by the sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS)Agreement of the World Trade Organization (WTO), i.e., the IPPC and the Codex Alimentarius. Many Members stressed the need to ensure adequate resources for these two standard setting bodies.

42. Recognizing the complexity of the international regulatory framework for biosecurity, the Committee emphasized that full use should be made of the relevant existing organizations and agreements, and that the development of new mechanisms or the creation of overarching regulatory frameworks were not needed. It strongly supported coordination among various international organizations and agreements that have mandates in biosecurity to make full use of synergies, to avoid overlap and to ensure efficient implementation.

43. The Committee noted that the individual sectors of biosecurity for agriculture, fisheries and forestry were confronted with a number of similar methodological and procedural issues, including risk analysis, harmonization, and international standard setting. The Committee also noted the need for transparency, for the exchange of official information among countries and for integrated capacity-building. The Committee appreciated the scope for in-house coordination through the PAIA on Biosecurity, in particular to identify possibilities to harmonize, where appropriate, methods of risk analysis, to coordinate capacity-building, and to establish the exchange system of official information. Concern was expressed that any information system should not overlap with the clearinghouse mechanism to be established under the Cartagena Protocol.

44. Several Members considered that FAO's involvement in the setting of environmental standards was outside its mandate. However, the meeting was informed by the Secretariat that the purpose of the IPPC covered the protection of plants and plant products in general and that, therefore, the protection of natural vegetation would be within the mandate of this Convention. This subject would be discussed further at the next session of the Interim Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (ICPM) in April 2001. The ICPM and the IPPC Secretariats were seeking cooperation with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) on this subject.

45. The Committee noted that biosecurity issues at national level might fall within the competence of several ministries, although the Ministry of Agriculture often had a lead role. It recognized the need for coordination and harmonization at the national level to make full use of capacities and synergies.

46. The Committee stressed that the ability to implement agreed international standards was of great importance to all Members to be able to participate in international trade and to protect human health, and animal and plant resources. The Committee emphasized the importance of capacity-building in developing countries and countries with economies in transition, to enable them to establish and implement appropriate sanitary and phytosanitary programmes relating to food and agriculture. Some Members indicated that developing countries may need a transition period before they comply with international standards.

47. The Committee welcomed the recommendation to convene a Consultation on Biosecurity in Food and Agriculture, but requested additional information on the proposed Consultation. The Committee also requested that the Secretariat, when considering the timing of any such consultation, take into account the heavy meeting schedule in the second half of 2001 and in the first half of 2002.


48. Document COAG/01/7 was supported by many Members, while several others expressed serious reservations about it. Many Members supported the three key areas identified for action to promote sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD) within specific regional and national contexts, namely: building capacities and strengthening institutions; mobilizing investments; and technologies for enhancing productivity and managing the environment. Other Members pointed out that the document had an incomplete approach and suggested the inclusion of other analytical factors that had not been envisaged.

49. The Committee agreed that, for this agenda item, representatives of major groups (NGOs, farmers, business, indigenous people, etc.) could speak along with Members, without this becoming a precedent. This agreement was in line with the request of the Eighth Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-8), which invited FAO to involve diverse stakeholders in the review of SARD in preparation for the Earth Summit in 2002 (Rio+10). Similarly, the Committee also welcomed the Multi-stakeholder Forum on SARD in preparation for Rio+10, which was taking place concurrently with COAG.

50. The Committee supported the proposal that SARD be a standing agenda item for COAG every four years. Strong support was given for the key role of FAO as a task manager for chapters 10 of (Integrated Planning and Land Management) and 14 (SARD) of Agenda 21. The active participation of FAO in preparation for CSD-10 and Rio+10was emphasized.

51. It was pointed out that the thrust, application and degree of utility of SARD will differ between regions and countries, and that recognizing these differences is a good basis in moving forward with SARD. Several Members recognized that SPFS was contributing to SARD in meeting the food security needs of food deficit countries. Others suggested that efforts should be made to draw lessons from these experiences, and the planned evaluation of the SPFS.

52. Many Members expressed strong concern that the document implied that small-scale farming could be part of the problem to enhancing productivity. The role of small-scale farmers in SARD was emphasized in meeting the food security and livelihood needs in many developing countries. Many Members suggested various ways of improving the sustainability of small-scale farming. These included increased assistance in capacity-building and strengthening rural institutions, transfer of appropriate technologies, improved farming practices, water harvesting, natural resource management practices, extension and training, enhancing the role of women, improving access to credit and mechanisms for information on prices and markets, and improving infrastructure.

53. Many Members drew attention to the insufficient investment in agriculture and the rural sector as a serious hindrance in attaining SARD. The need for strengthening public funding in research and development was stressed, and an increasing role for the private sector was also emphasized. Partnership and collaboration with international financial institutions, the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and the Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs), to leverage resources and mobilize self-help schemes was recommended.

54. Pointing to some of the gaps in the document, a number of issues were highlighted as important for SARD. These include: access to land and land tenure; debt relief; control of HIV/AIDS; traditional, local and indigenous knowledge; gender and the role of women; increased participation of civil society; good governance; and the role of public research in agriculture and rural development.

55. One group of Members, while supporting the SARD concept, expressed serious concern with the COAG document, COAG/01/7, which they perceived as implicitly accepting the concept of Multi-functional Character of Agriculture and Land (MFCAL), and as being inconsistent with the relevant decision of the FAO Conference in November 1999. Another group of Members accepted the document as being in line with the SARD concept, and considered it to be fully consistent with the relevant decisions of both the FAO Conference and of CSD-8, and therefore called for FAO to continue its work on SARD as outlined in the document.

56. The Committee recognized the valuable contribution made by the CSOs and NGOs to the debate on this item.



Low Income Food Deficit Country classification criteria

57. The Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) noted that the LIFDC classification is used by some agencies as an indicator of countries' need for assistance, particularly food aid, and called for the inclusion of an additional criterion that would reflect intra-national distribution of undernourishment and access to food, as well as a "self-inclusion" provision. The Secretariat recalled that FAO had established the classification originally for analytical purposes only, i.e., to list countries by their income level and net food trade position, and indicated that the inclusion of distribution criteria would substantially change the nature of the classification. The Committee agreed that further details be taken up bilaterally with the Secretariat.

COAG/01/Inf.1 - Progress Report on Global Plan of Action on Plant Genetic Resources

58. A group of Members, commenting on the above Report, emphasized the role of FAO in monitoring and facilitating the implementation of the Global Plan of Action while considering that implementation itself was primarily a national responsibility. In this context, they emphasized the importance of a speedy conclusion to the negotiations of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

Consultative Forum on Seeds for Latin America and the Caribbeans

59. GRULAC informed that a Consultative Forum on Seeds had been established amongst Latin American and Caribbean countries, proposed that the Forum be granted formal recognition with FAO, and suggested that this matter be considered at the next FAO Council and Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Multi-stakeholder Forum on SARD

60. The Co-Chairs of the Multi-stakeholder Forum on SARD made a presentation to the Committee on the discussions which took place in the Forum on 29 March 2001. The Committee took note of the written report that had been produced by the Forum and was informed that the report would be made available on FAO's SARD Website and disseminated widely as a contribution to the Rio+10 preparatory process.


61. The Committee noted that its Seventeenth Session would be held at FAO Headquarters in Rome in approximately two years' time, tentatively during the last week of March 2003. The Director-General, in consultation with the Chair of the Committee, would determine the exact date, taking into account the overall meeting schedules of the Organization and other Rome-based agencies.





Election of Chairman and Vice-Chairmen

Adoption of Agenda and Timetable for the Session


Programme Implementation Report 1998-99

Medium-Term Plan 2002-2007


Climate Variability and Change: A Challenge for Sustainable Agricultural Production

Reducing Agricultural Vulnerability to Storm-related Disasters

The Place of Agriculture in Sustainable Development: The Way Forward on SARD

Biosecurity for Food and Agriculture


Other Business
Date and Place of Next Session


Adoption of the Report





COAG/01/1 Provisional Annotated Agenda
COAG/01/2 Rev. 1 Proposed Timetable
COAG/01/3 Programme Implementation Report 1998-99
COAG/01/4 Medium Term Plan 2002-2007
COAG/01/5 Climate Variability and Change: A Challenge for Sustainable Agricultural Production
COAG/01/6 Reducing Agricultural Vulnerability to Storm-related Disasters
COAG/01/7 The Place of Agriculture in Sustainable Development: The Way Forward on SARD
COAG/01/8 Biosecurity in Food and Agriculture
COAG/01/Inf. 1 Progress Report on the Global Plan of Action for Plant Genetic Resources
COAG/01/Inf.2 Report of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Biotechnology
COAG/01/Inf.3 Report of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Food for the Cities
COAG/01/Inf.4 Report of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Organic Agriculture
COAG/01/Inf.5 Evaluation Report of Programme 2.2.4. (Food and Agriculture Policy)
COAG/01/Inf.6 Progress Report on Agenda 21: Highlights of FAO's Contribution
COAG/01/Inf.7 Updating the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides
COAG/01/Inf.8 Rev. 1 List of Members of the Committee
COAG/01/Inf.9 Rev. 1 List of Delegates and Observers
COAG/01/Inf.10 Statements of Competence and Voting Rights Submitted by the

European Community (EC) and its Member States

COAG/01/Inf.11 Provisional List of Documents
COAG/01/Lim.1 Medium Term Plan 2002-2007





Afghanistan France New Zealand
Algeria Gabon Niger
Angola Germany Nigeria
Argentina Ghana Norway
Australia Greece Oman
Austria Guatemala Pakistan
Bangladesh Guinea Panama
Belgium Haiti Paraguay
Bolivia Honduras Peru
Brazil Hungary Philippines
Bulgaria Iceland Poland
Burkina Faso India Portugal
Canada Indonesia Romania
Cape Verde Iran, Islamic Rep. of San Marino
Chile Iraq Saudi Arabia, Kingdom of
China Ireland Senegal
Colombia Italy Slovak Republic
Congo, Republic Democratic of Japan South Africa
Congo, Republic of Jordan Spain
Costa Rica Kenya Sri Lanka
Côte d'Ivoire Korea, Republic of Sudan
Cuba Kuwait Sweden
Cyprus Lesotho Switzerland
Czech Republic Libya Tanzania, United
Republic of
Democratic People's Republic
of Korea
Madagascar Thailand
Denmark Malaysia The Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia
Ecuador Mali Tunisia
Egypt Malta Turkey
El Salvador Mauritania Uganda
Estonia Mauritius United Kingdom
Ethiopia Mexico United States of America
European Community
- Member Organization
Morocco Uruguay
Fiji Myanmar Venezuela
Finland Netherlands Zimbabwe


Dominican Republic Yemen
Mozambique Yugoslavia


Russian Federation




International Atomic Energy Agency
International Fund for Agricultural
United Nations Framework Convention on  Climate Change
World Meteorological Organization


African Farmer Committee

European Conservation Agriculture Federation

Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development

Federation of Free Farmers

Associated Country Women of the World

FUPRO - Réseau des Organisations Paysannes et de Producteurs Agricoles de l' Afrique de l' Ouest

Bureau Beleidsvorming Ontwikkelingssamenwerking (BBO)

Global Crop Protection Federation

Caritas Internationalis

Institute of Motivating Self-Employment

Cooperative Agricultural Union

International Alliance of Women

CGIAR NGO Committee - AS-PTA

International Association of Agricultural Economists

Collectif Stratégies Alimentaires ASBL - Liaison Committee of Development NGOs to the E.U.

International Catholic Rural Association

European Association for Animal Production

International Centre for Advanced Mediterranean Agronomic Studies

European Association of Agricultural Economists

International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage

International Committee for Animal Recording

International Union of Food Agricultural Hotel Restaurant Catering Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations

International Cooperative Alliance

Pesticides Action Asian Network - Asia and the Pacific

International Council of Women

Rotary International

International Federation of Agricultural Producers

Soroptimist International

International Federation of Home Economics

The Popular Coalition to Eradicate Hunger and Poverty

International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements

The Third World Network

International Fertilizer Industry Association

Unilever - Sustainable Agriculture Initiative

International Indian Treaty Council

Via Campesina

International Partners for Sustainable Agriculture - CSD NGO Caucus

Women's International League for Peace and Freedom

International Raiffeisen Union

World Association for Animal Production

International Society of Plant Molecular Biology

World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts

International Union of Family Organizations

World Federation of Trade Unions
World Union of Catholic Women's Organizations



International Plant Genetic Resources Institute





Mr Chairperson,
Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good Morning. It is a pleasure to welcome you to the Sixteenth Session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG). I believe the large turnout reflects the importance you attach to the COAG and to guiding FAO's work on sustainable agriculture.

Mr Chairperson, before turning to your agenda, I should like to update the Committee on a few important changes that have taken place in FAO since your last session. First, as you can see from the head table, the leadership of two of three Departments that serve COAG has changed. Mr. Sawadogo retired from the position of Assistant Director-General of the Agriculture Department, and the baton was passed to Louise Fresco. Ms Fresco is well known to this committee from her work in her previous post as Director of the Research Extension and Training Division. Then too, there has been a change in the leadership of the Sustainable Development Department (SD). Mr. Carsalade, who until a year ago was Assistant Director-General of SD, moved to become the Assistant Director-General of the Technical Cooperation Department; he was replaced immediately by Mr Jacques Eckebil, who was previously Chief of the Research and Technology Development Service. Mr. Hartwig De Haen remains the Assistant Director-General of the Economic and Social Department.

As in previous biennia, this session of COAG is one of a series of technical meetings of FAO Council committees that are held during each Conference year. COAG has been preceded by the Committee on Fisheries (COFI), the Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP), and the Committee on Forestry (COFO), and it will be followed by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS). During my open statements for the other Committees, I highlighted FAO's progress on strategic planning, and our vision for the follow-up to the World Food Summit. I also feel it important to bring this to the attention of the delegates to COAG who may not have attended the other committees.

Many members of the Committee will recall that this Organization has been on a path of dynamic change and continual improvement for several years. We have, for example, reorganized, decentralized, and down-sized. We have increased our administrative efficiency and have cut costs of travel, meetings and publications, while at the same time protecting our priority technical programmes and modernizing and improving our communication systems.

Perhaps even more importantly, recently we finished a complete overhaul of our planning process, culminating in the adoption of a Strategic Framework by the Conference in 1999, which sets the course of the Organization over the coming 10-15 years. For the medium term, the Council last year approved a new Medium-Term Plan for the years 2002-07. The Strategic Framework and Medium-Term Plan together are the foundations on which the biennial Programmes of Work and Budget are developed. This is the best planning process that has ever been in place in this Organization.

As you would expect, the Organization also continues to work very hard to assist countries in meeting the target set at the 1996 World Food Summit to cut the number of undernourished to 400 million by 2015. Sadly, too little progress is being made in bringing about significant reductions in the number of the world's hungry and, unless more determined efforts are made to speed up progress, the targets of the World Food Summit will not be reached. We had estimated, for example, that the number of undernourished would need to be reduced by 20 million per year, when in fact the number is declining at best at the rate of about 8 million annually.

It is for this reason that the Director-General proposed to the Council, and the Council agreed, that a high-level review be carried out within the context of the FAO Conference this year and that Heads of State and Government be invited. Hopefully, the World Food Summit: Five Years Later will give new impetus and momentum to the process of implementing the Summit Plan of Action.

Mr Chairperson, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me now turn to the COAG agenda. Firstly, I would like to stress the importance of this meeting in helping shape the Organization's agriculture work over the next six years. Your views and advice are extremely valuable in helping to define the corporate character of FAO as we enter the new millennium, and as agriculture finds itself more and more in the limelight everyday.

One of COAG's main tasks is to review and provide advice on the Organization's programme of work in agriculture. As you do this, I would like to invite you to address not only past performance, in particular the selected achievements of the Regular and Field Programmes during 1998-99 under agenda item 3, but also the proposals set out in the six-year plan of work of the Medium Term Plan 2002-2007, under agenda item 4. There have been some significant shifts in focus and operational approaches in the elaboration of this Medium Term Plan in order to achieve the goals of our new Strategic Framework. The creation of Priority Areas for Integrated Action (PAIAs) is a good illustration of the new tactics being used to harness the synergies among programmes on major crosscutting themes. We welcome your comments and guidance on these innovations.

The next four agenda items concern strategic development issues of a predominantly technical and socio-economic nature. They highlight several concepts and approaches with a common theme, which demonstrate how agricultural, social and environmental concerns can and should be addressed in order to meet both present and future needs.

For example, under item 6, the paper Reducing Agricultural Vulnerability to Storm-Related Disasters examines the kinds of crop, soil and water management practices (such as no-tillage-based conservation agriculture and agroforestry) which will contribute to protecting human and natural resources from the damage caused by severe storms. Such practices are also among the concrete technical interventions that will help reduce atmospheric CO2 and thus contribute to global solutions to climate change. The paper Climate Variability and Change: a Challenge for Sustainable Agriculture will be discussed under item 5.

The adoption of good agricultural practices can, in many cases, lead to improved livelihoods, through a sustainable increase in food security, and a reduction in rural poverty, which are the pivotal goals of Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) that were elaborated in Chapter 14 of Agenda 21. FAO's role as SARD Task Manager in the Earth Summit follow-up is discussed under item 7.

Another example of a recurring theme is the growing importance of interministerial cooperation. This is especially highlighted under item 7 on SARD. The need for cooperation among ministries to responsibly exploit agricultural and rural development opportunities, while at the same time ensuring protection of the natural resource base, is an overarching theme in all four technical papers.

Under item 8, the paper Biosecurity in Food and Agriculture addresses the need for appropriate regulations and actions related to food safety, plant and animal health and to safeguarding the environment. Growing consumer concern about food safety and the environment places global, regional and national policies on biosecurity at the pinnacle of public debate. Clearly, national and international regulations need to be harmonized in an integrated framework that supports coherent policy choices. While not all the international regulations on biosecurity are negotiated within FAO's purview, the paper under this agenda item describes FAO's portfolio of mechanisms such as Codex Alimentarius, the Prior Informed Consent principle (PIC), the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA). It outlines ways of assisting members in dealing with the need for consistency in policies and actions. A PAIA has been created within the new Medium Term Plan to draw together the elements of the crosscutting issues related to biosecurity and regulatory frameworks in food and agriculture. There is little doubt that this topic will continue to be a major focus of attention in the foreseeable future, owing to the ever growing concerns about food safety, and the emphasis being placed on trade and environmental conservation. COAG's guidance is essential in indicating how FAO can best facilitate members' own analyses and negotiations.

Mr Chairperson, I would also like to draw the Committee's attention to seven short documents which are intended for information only and not for discussion. The first information paper consists of a progress report on the Global Plan of Action for Plant Genetic Resources. Information documents Nos. 2, 3 and 4 report on the activities of the three new Interdepartmental Working Groups that have resulted from the recommendations of COAG's 15th Session, namely on: Biotechnology, Food for the Cities and Organic Agriculture. Information document No. 5 is a report that was requested on the evaluation of our Programme on Food and Agriculture Policy, while information document No. 6 covers the progress of FAO's overall contribution to Agenda 21. Finally, there is a document on the updating of the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides (information document No. 7).

Mr Chairperson, a special effort has been made in the preparation of this session to encourage the active participation of non-governmental groups in order to ensure a fuller representation of the wide range of civil society partners involved in agricultural development and food security issues. You will note in the footnote of the Proposed Timetable (COAG/01/2) that we are organizing a Forum on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development to run concurrently with COAG, that is, during the time of the second and third drafting committee meetings on Thursday. The forum will be held in the Red Room in the morning and the afternoon. This forum on SARD is a response to the recommendation made by the Commission on Sustainable Development at its 8th Session in April 2000. FAO, as Task Manager for SARD and for Land Management, was asked to provide, using existing mechanisms, opportunities for dialogue among diverse stakeholders in a process to enhance the preparation for the Rio+10 Summit, which will be held in South Africa in the summer of 2002. NGOs and Governments alike are encouraged to join in the informal dialogue at the Forum on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development. Indeed, member countries may wish to consider inviting COAG observers to contribute to discuss document No. 7, which deals with FAO's task manager role on SARD, during the agenda debate.

In closing, Mr Chairperson, Ladies and Gentlemen, we are at a point in history when there is growing agreement on the need to resolve the problems of food insecurity and poverty, and when it is clear that agriculture and rural development are a major part of the solution to equitable and sustainable development. Still, the need to raise agriculture to the highest levels of public interest has never been more apparent. Similarly self evident is FAO's role in helping Member Nations to deal with new opportunities and with new and old constraints.

Mr Chairperson, Ladies and Gentlemen, I hope that this session of COAG will be notable for its stimulating, relevant and successful deliberations. Your views are of the utmost importance to the work of FAO, and to the international community as a whole, in the area of food and agriculture. They can also make a vital contribution to the international struggle to eliminate disparities in access to adequate food, productive resources, knowledge and technology. We value your advice, and we do our best to follow it.

Thank you.


1 COAG/01/3; C2001/8 -Corr.1-Rev.1

2 COAG/01/4; CL 119/17

3 COAG/01/5

4 COAG/01/6

5 COAG/01/8

6 COAG/01/7