CL 121/3


Hundred and Twenty-first Session

Rome, 30 October-1 November 2001

Report of the Eighty-sixth Session of the
Programme Committee
Rome, 17-21 September 2001

Table of Contents




Matters requiring discussion and/or decision

Programme of Work and Budget 2002-03


Matters for information

Thematic Review of FAO's Training Activities


Topics to be Considered for Future Evaluations


Mechanisms Available to FAO to Meet Unbudgeted Demands while Protecting the Programme of Work


UN Joint Inspection Unit (JIU) Reports


Progress Report on Follow-up of Past Programme Committee Recommendations


Review of the Working Methods of the Programme Committee


Possible Items for Discussion at the Next Session




Rome, 17-21 September 2001


1. The Committee submits to the Council the following report of its Eighty-sixth Session.

2. The following Members were present:

Chairman Mr. R. Rose (Canada)
Members Mr. P.N. Ross (Australia)
Mr. M.T. Kima (Cameroon)
Mr. Z. Tang (China)
Mr. B. Gutiérrez Zuluaga Botero (Colombia)
Mr. F. Zenny (Jamaica)
Mr. G. Mansour (Lebanon)
Mr. J. Berteling (Netherlands)
Ms. S. Nyamudeza (Zimbabwe)

3. Mr. A.S. Karama (Indonesia) and Mr. I.M. Zawia (Libya) were not present at the Meeting.

Adoption of the Agenda1

4. The Agenda and Timetable for the meeting were approved.

Item 2: Programme of Work and Budget 2002-20032


5. The Committee underlined the clear format of the Programme of Work and Budget 2002-03 (PWB). It confirmed the merit of complementing the information in the document with more details available on FAO's Internet website. The Committee welcomed the new section on Regional Dimensions and the short explanatory paragraphs on forecast extra-budgetary resources under respective substantive programmes. It received clarifications on how the forecasts of Trust Fund resources were developed, but drew attention to the impact of the Iraq "Oil for Food" programme which distorted the distribution of such resources by sector and region.

6. The Committee recognised that the forward purchase contract entered into by the Secretariat in July 2001 to cover Euro requirements in the forthcoming biennium, had removed the usual uncertainty linked to the impact of the US Dollar-Italian Lira/Euro exchange rate. Another positive aspect of this action was the greatly reduced estimate of cost increases for 2002-03.

7. The Committee reiterated that the proposals in this full Programme of Work and Budget were consistent with the Strategic Framework 2000-2015 and the Medium Term Plan 2002-20073. It was pleased to observe that the comments it had made on the Summary Programme of Work and Budget 2002-034 (SPWB) at its preceding session had been taken into account. Among the key features of the proposals, the Committee welcomed the steps to improve language balance in FAO's activities, especially in relation to its website and WAICENT5, while looking forward to further progress in this direction.

8. The Committee addressed the proposals in Chapters 1 to 4 of the PWB, bearing in mind the in-depth review carried out at its last session when it considered the SPWB. Accordingly, it focussed its discussion particularly on eventual changes or developments since the SPWB, also seeking clarifications on major resource shifts across programmes or entities.


9. The Committee noted that the main proposal in this chapter under the real growth scenario was to include the provision for replacement of FAO's programme planning and budgetary system (PLANSYS). However, it was also informed that the full amount would not be retained under the zero real growth scenario, which implied further delays or the search for alternative solutions, should real growth not be endorsed by the Conference. The Committee recognised that the need to regularise several temporary posts in the Office of Director-General had also implied a net increase of resources under the pertinent programme heading (1.2.1).


Major Programme 2.1: Agricultural Production and Support Systems

10. The Committee recalled the positive feature of introducing in this PWB an intra-departmental Programme (2.1.0), noting that the attendant reallocation of resources to its intra-departmental entities had led to apparent reductions under other substantive programmes, especially evident under the zero real growth scenario.

11. The Committee highlighted the extensive contributions of many entities under this major programme to the Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action (PAIAs) identified in the Medium Term Plan, including important activities such as a Consultation on Biosecurity in Food and Agriculture. In this connection, it noted that the purpose of the centrally-administered provision under entity 210S5 was to provide catalytic funds for cross-sectoral activities which might not otherwise receive adequate inputs from individual programmes.

12. The Committee welcomed the various initiatives to develop Internet-based information platforms and databases providing targeted information, such as the WCA INFONET6 under entity 211S2; IPTRID7; the Global Livestock Knowledge Framework under entity 213P1; INPhO8 and InFarm9 under entity 214A5. It urged full integration of these systems with WAICENT to ensure consistency of content and broad access by target users.

13. The Committee noted the relative emphasis given to integrated production-oriented activities in support of sustainable rural livelihoods and food security, in particular under Programmes 2.1.2, Crops, and 2.1.3, Livestock. This appeared well complemented by the planned support to an enabling environment for farm and non-farm enterprises and promotion of entrepreneurship under Programme 2.1.4, Agricultural Support Systems, and the increased activities on integrated land and water management under Programme 2.1.1, Natural Resources, including for conservation agriculture and mitigation of the impact of natural disasters.

14. The Committee was informed that the Plant Production and Protection (AGP) Division's work on urban and peri-urban agriculture would continue under entity 214A2 dedicated to meeting urban food needs. The Committee was advised that increased resources for expert meetings relating to IPPC10 implementation would not be available under zero real growth conditions. The Committee recognised the desirability of assessing the continued effectiveness of work on pesticide management under entity 212P2, which involved a range of activities to both promote sound practices and reduce risks to human health and the environment.

15. The Committee welcomed the further adjustments to the structure of Programme 2.1.3, in particular to strengthen its information, sector analysis and policy dimensions. It noted that reduced work on livestock production technologies under entity 212A8 reflected the increasing role of the private sector in this area, leading to a shift toward facilitating a policy environment to enable use of technologies. The Committee highlighted the expected contribution to poverty reduction from the new Pro-Poor Livestock Policy Initiative, which would support the development of livestock development policy options and information tools under entities 213B1 and 213P1.

Major Programme 2.2: Food and Agriculture Policy and Development

16. The Committee noted that no substantial changes had been proposed for Major Programme 2.2 since the SPWB, other than studying options for the urgent modernisation of the FAOSTAT11 working system, a requirement the Committee had highlighted at its last session. It observed that given its scope, the major programme would have to deal in a flexible manner with a number of critical and fast evolving issues of broad international interest.

17. The Committee was informed that the World Health Organization (WHO) had increased resources for food safety work, although not through the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme (Codex Alimentarius), while FAO was reallocating resources for the Joint Programme to bring them closer in line with the established cost-sharing agreement. These reallocated resources would be used for continued capacity building and scientific risk assessment of food quality and safety matters.

18. The Committee welcomed the proposals related to the FAOSTAT working system, as contained in document PC 86/INF/3. It recalled that the FAOSTAT working system was the software used for processing, validating and analysing statistical data received from member countries, the results of which were fed into WAICENT for dissemination. The Committee recognised that it was a corporate application of interest to all units within the Organization which processed and analysed data.

19. The Committee reiterated the high priority of FAO's work of collection and dissemination of statistical information on food and agriculture. To this end, the Organization needed the best possible capacity to process, validate and analyse incoming data and generate accurate information, as the basis for making sound assessments and providing pertinent policy advice to countries and information for the public at large. The Committee endorsed the overall thrust of the proposal to modernise the FAOSTAT working system, while emphasising that the conceptual design should take account of the need to improve data quality at the country level also requiring the dissemination of appropriate tools to national authorities, as well as within the Organization.

20. Bearing in mind the importance of this work in the context of Strategic Objective E1, and while appreciating that a specific cost estimate could not be provided until a thorough study of system requirements and specifications had been completed, the Committee urged that options for funding be identified, including through the use of arrears. Moreover, it stressed that the important new entity 222A4, Systematic Evaluation and Improvement of Statistical Data Quality, should remain a priority regardless of the level of the approved budget. Support could also be mobilised through the PAIA on Definitions, Norms, Methodologies and Quality of Information (QINF). The Committee requested that an updated report on the proposal to modernise FAOSTAT be provided to its next session, when requirements' definition and conceptual design, with attendant firmer cost estimates, had been determined.

21. The Committee noted that the statistical work undertaken under Programme 2.2.2, Food and Agricultural Information, would be a very topical candidate for evaluation.

Major Programme 2.3: Fisheries

22. The Committee welcomed the increased level of resources provided for this major programme since the SPWB, in the light of its own recommendations.

23. The Committee recognised the overall shift of emphasis from production to management and was informed of the rationale behind some proposed shifts of resources between programme entities. It reiterated its endorsement of major priorities, such as the continuous commitment to implement the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, support to the International Plans of Action, improved fisheries management and responsible aquaculture. The Committee observed that extra-budgetary resources were likely to be forthcoming to cover additional requests for assistance, as well as in support of the Sub-committee on Aquaculture which was only partially funded in the real growth scenario.

Major Programme 2.4: Forestry

24. The Committee also welcomed the increase in resources for Forestry since the stage of the Summary, in line with the recommendation of the Council and its own advice. It noted that the additional resources would allow increased attention to priority areas such as mountain development, forest fires, national forest programmes and sustainable natural resource management. The Committee welcomed the increase in the number of forestry projects conducted under the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP).

Major Programme 2.5: Contributions to Sustainable Development
and Special Programme Thrusts

25. The Committee noted that there were no major changes in substance and allocations over the SPWB. The proposals reflected inter alia the decline in support from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in relation to FAO's work on population activities and substantial transfer of resources to Programme 2.5.1, Research, Natural Resources Management and Technology Transfer, to strengthen information-based, inter-divisional activities. The proposals also included the establishment of a new post for the assessment of policy implications of HIV/AIDS on agriculture and rural development, as requested by the Committees on World Food Security (CFS) and Agriculture (COAG) and the Council.

26. The Committee highlighted the difficulties inherent in mainstreaming gender and population issues within the whole gamut of FAO's activities, while indeed recognising the negative impact of HIV/AIDS on food security and rural livelihoods, which warranted active efforts to include HIV/AIDS dimensions in FAO's normative as well as operational work.


27. The Committee noted that the proposals under Major Programme 3.1, Policy Assistance, reflected measures to respond to the evaluation of policy assistance activities it had considered at its last session. There was in particular greater emphasis on field programme development under the pertinent entities and closer links were being ensured with FAO's normative work.

28. The Committee was informed about the special arrangements made in connection with the implementation of the Iraq "Oil for Food" programme, which were consistent with the exceptional nature of this programme, including contingency plans to deal with its either abrupt or more orderly termination, depending on developments. It received confirmation that the costs for supporting this unusually large programme were fully recovered from its funding sources.

29. The Committee also emphasised the importance of continued active dialogue with donors.


30. In noting with concern problems experienced with delivery performance under the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) in the recent past, the Committee was informed that there were a number of causal factors, including temporary difficulties linked to decentralization of operations and the adequacy of supportive administrative systems in the field.

31. It was reassured that determined action was under way to address these causes, in order to bring delivery back to normal conditions. The Committee also recognised that, given the unprogrammed nature of TCP, breakdowns of expenditures by sector or region were bound to fluctuate over time, depending on the demands made by recipient countries.

Item 3a): Thematic Review of FAO's Training Activities12

32. The Committee found the review report informative and useful, providing an overview analysis and identifying salient issues on FAO training activities. The Committee underlined the importance of training as a major vehicle for extending the Organization's technical and normative outputs as well as for contributing to human resources development and capacity building in developing member countries. It recognized that such training activities also provided feedback to FAO in developing and improving its technical products. While noting with satisfaction that FAO's training activities are assessed broadly as relevant and useful in meeting the needs of member countries, the Committee expressed considerable concern about the various weaknesses identified in the review, many of which indicated institutional shortcomings in ensuring that training activities are planned and implemented in a well coordinated manner and their achievements monitored and assessed.

33. The Committee was advised that management had also found that the recommendations provided a useful basis for developing an improved corporate approach, but it considered that some of the recommendations, such as establishing a house-wide reporting and monitoring system on training activities, could be costly and thus needed careful review of their practicality and cost-effectiveness. As a first step, management decided that the existing "Informal Task Force on Education and Food for All", chaired by the Extension, Education and Communication Service (SDRE), should serve as the appropriate inter-departmental mechanism for leading the follow-up action. The Task Force was charged with the tasks of: (a) preparing draft guiding principles; (b) establishing a suitable in-house network of trainers as well as a FAO Website on training; (c) providing recommendations for management action regarding application of adult education approaches and on staff training programme; and (d) providing options for the implementation of the proposed reporting and monitoring arrangements with a view to identifying a cost-effective approach. The Task Force would report back to management in about six months' time. The Committee noted that the management response would be incorporated into the Programme Evaluation Report 2001 to be submitted to the Conference through the Council.

34. The Committee appreciated the lines of the management response as indicated and requested that a progress report on management's follow-up action of the recommendations be submitted to the Committee at its next session in May 2002.

Item 3b): Topics to be Considered for Future Evaluations13

35. The Committee welcomed the consultation process with the Director-General in selecting topics for major programme evaluations to be presented to the Committee, regarding possible topics to be covered during the next two biennia (2002-03 and 2004-05). In considering the proposed subjects contained in the document, it agreed that increasing emphasis be given to thematic evaluations in the context of the Strategic Framework and the Medium-Term Plan. It also underlined the importance of maintaining standards for systematic evaluation, as exemplified in the thematic evaluation on policy support. In recognizing a need for flexibility in planning evaluations, it decided to review on a biennial basis the planned coverage of topics for possible adjustments.

36. The Committee was informed that a full evaluation of the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) would be submitted to the Programme Committee in May 2002. It noted that it was not intended to present an interim evaluation report to the Conference, nor to the World Food Summit: five years later, in November 2001.

37. The Committee agreed to recommend to the Director-General the following eight topics:

I. Topics for Thematic Evaluations Related to the Corporate Strategies

II. Topics for Thematic Evaluations Related to the Strategies to
Address Cross-Organizational Issues:

III. Selected Individual Programmes (including related Field Programme):

Item 4: Mechanisms Available to FAO to Meet Unbudgeted Demands while Protecting the Programme of Work

38. The Committee welcomed the informative document prepared on this subject, following a request made at its last session. It recognised that the mechanisms described therein were on the whole adequate for FAO to cope with unbudgeted demands or requirements.

Item 5: UN Joint Inspection Unit Reports

Annual Report of the JIU for the Year 200014

Work Programme of the JIU for 2001 and Preliminary List of Potential Reports for 2002 and Beyond15

39. The Committee noted the above reports. It recognised that in view of its scope, the report deferred from its previous session (Young Professionals in Selected Organizations of the United Nations System: Recruitment, Management and Retention16) would better be considered by the Finance Committee.

Item 6: Progress Report on the Follow-up of Past Programme Committee Recommendations

40. The Committee took note of this progress report.

Item 7: Review of Working Methods of the Programme Committee

41. Being the last session of the Biennium, the Committee agreed not to address its current working methods.

Item 8: Possible Items for Discussion at the Next Session

42. The Committee agreed to draw to the attention of the Council that, besides the standing items on its agenda, it would need to discuss the following subjects at its next session:

43. Recalling the request of the 120th Council, the Programme Committee recognised that it would also need to examine at its next session the feasibility of submitting advance information on Programme of Work and Budget proposals to the Committees on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.


1 PC 86/1 - PC 86/INF/1

2 C 2001/3

3 CL 119/17

4 CL 120/3

5 World Agricultural Information Centre (WAICENT)

6 Information Service on Water Conservation and Use in Agriculture (WCA INFONET)

7 International Programme for Technology and Research in Irrigation and Drainage (IPTRID)

8 Information Network on Post-Harvest Operations (INPhO)

9 Farm economics website (InFarm)

10 International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC)

11 Corporate Database for Substantive Statistical Data (FAOSTAT)

12 PC 86/3-a)

13 PC 86/3-b)

14 CL 121/INF/11

15 CL 121/INF/12

16 CL 120/INF/13