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Director-General's Foreword

I am pleased to submit the fifth Programme Evaluation Report, which is now presented in a new and briefer format as decided by the Governing Bodies in 1999. The report contains summaries of the five reviews and evaluations examined by the Programme Committee during the biennium, together with the Committee's comments.

This edition of the Programme Evaluation Report marks a new phase in the evolution of FAO's evaluation system. While the individual evaluations are produced by the Evaluation Service as in the past, the Programme Committee is now playing an increasingly active role by participating in the selection of evaluation topics and reviewing in depth individual evaluation reports during the biennium. Thus, the biennial Programme Evaluation Report (PER) now serves as a vehicle for reporting to the Conference on evaluations, including the response of the management and of the Committee. I am satisfied with this process, which reinforces the participatory nature of evaluation work in the Organization through more systematic involvement of the Governing Bodies as well as greater dialogue within the secretariat, especially between the programme managers concerned and Evaluation Service staff. Such interactions, I believe, contribute materially to enhanced transparency of the management process as well as to greater rigour and effectiveness of evaluation as a management tool.

The evaluations and reviews contained in the report indicate that despite the constraints due to the sustained financial stringencies over the recent biennia, these programmes and activities have generally succeeded in providing the member countries and our international partners with useful quality outputs and services. In particular, I am pleased with the productive track record of work under the Programme on Food and Agricultural Policy (2.2.4), including on food security and agricultural trade, and with the substantial achievements under the two thematic areas, policy assistance and training support to the developing member countries. At the same time, I share fully the concerns expressed by the Programme Committee regarding several broader issues emerging from these evaluations and reviews. These include:

All of these issues are central to the reform of the Organization I have initiated, and I intend to address them with my full energy in the coming years.

As I have said before, I attach great importance to evaluation in further improving our programme management process- in the interests of both transparency and organizational learning. As you know, I have commissioned an independent, external evaluation of the Special Programme for Food Security, the results of which will be presented to the Council through the Programme Committee next year.

I am also pleased to say that we are taking concrete measures to implement the new evaluation system as an integral part of FAO's programme planning and management system. On the one hand, a revised Director-General's Bulletin on evaluation is being introduced, which will initiate the implementation of a new auto-evaluation process across the Organization in 2002. On the other hand, the methodologies and procedures of evaluation work will continue to be improved and better adapted so as to support the Organization's evolution towards a more strategically, results-oriented, and learning organization as has been recommended by the Programme Committee.

I trust that the Conference will find this report useful in improving the cost-effectiveness and shaping priorities of our programmes. In this spirit, I look forward to receiving constructive suggestions and guidance to improve our evaluation work, including the future issues of this report.

Jacques Diouf

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