Hundred and twenty-third Session
Rome, 28 October-2 November 2002
Report of the Eighty-seventh Session of the Programme Committee
MATTERS REQUIRING ATTENTION BY THE COUNCIL
MAJOR PROGRAMME 2.2: FOOD AND AGRICULTURE POLICY AND DEVELOPMENT
PROGRAMME 2.2.1: NUTRITION
PROGRAMME 2.2.2: FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL INFORMATION
PROGRAMME 2.2.3: FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL MONITORING, ASSESSMENTS AND OUTLOOKS
PROGRAMME 2.2.4: AGRICULTURE, FOOD SECURITY AND TRADE POLICY
MAJOR PROGRAMME 2.4: FORESTRY
JOINT FAO/WHO EVALUATION OF THE CODEX ALIMENTARIUS AND OTHER FAO/WHO WORK ON FOOD STANDARDS
The External Evaluation of the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS)
Evaluation of Animal Health Component of Programme 2.1.3
Evaluation of EMPRES Programme – Desert Locust
Feasibility of Developing Preliminary Information on Programme of Work Proposals to COAG, COFI and COFO
Possible Items for Discussion at the Next Session
Any Other Business
Review of Programmes
Thematic Review of FAO’s Training Activities – A Progress Report
The Modernization of FAOSTAT – An Update
A Progress Report on the Development of Indicators
Report on Important Programme Developments
UN Joint Inspection Unit Reports
Progress Report on the Follow-up of Past Programme Committee Recommendations
Review of Working Methods of the Programme Committee
1. The Committee submits to the Council the following report of its Eighty-seventh Session.
2. The following Members were present:
Mr. J. Berteling (Netherlands)
Mr. B. J. Hughes (Australia)
Mr. M. Samatana (Cameroon)
Mr. B.G. Hankey (Canada)
Mr. Z. Tang (China)
Mr. A.H. Haidar (Lebanon)
Mr. R.B. Khalid (Malaysia)
Mr. M.M. Touré (Mali)
Ms. A.M. Baiardi Quesnel (Paraguay)
Mr. M.S.M.A. Harbi (Sudan)
3. Mr. B. Gutiérrez Zuluaga Botero (Colombia) was not present at the meeting.
4. The Agenda and Timetable for the meeting were approved.
5. The Committee carried out its traditional review of programmes in non-Conference years, covering at its present session Major Programmes 2.2 and 2.4 of the Programme of Work and Budget.
6. The Committee stressed that many elements of Major Programme 2.2 constituted core work of the Organization on which related policy advice and assistance to Members was based. The major programme also responded to current and emerging issues of concern to Members. The Committee, in particular, supported the increasing attention being given to advocacy to mobilise political will, including at high-level international fora and for consensus-building amongst Members.
7. The Committee appreciated the programme's people-centred focus through efforts to improve human nutrition and access to sufficient, nutritionally adequate and safe food. While welcoming the higher priority attributed to food safety assessment, it also stressed the importance of work on household food security and nutrition, nutrition education and nutrition in the context of emergencies. The Committee urged that Codex and Codex-related entities, including the scientific expert bodies that provided advice to the Codex Alimentarius Commission (particularly JECFA2 and JMPR3) be adequately funded. It commended the proposed "food-chain" approach to food safety and quality, which would involve inter-disciplinary collaboration with other units in the Organization. It supported the proposal to rename Programme 2.2.2 as Nutrition, Food Quality and Safety to reflect better its scope and content.
8. The Committee reaffirmed the central importance of FAO's work on statistics and information, as a basis for policy analysis and assistance to Members, but expressed concern about the adequacy of resources allocated for statistical processing and analysis. It noted the growing demand for statistics contained in the FAOSTAT database, which was now the world’s largest global agricultural statistical database with over one million time series, and agreed that priority should be given to improving both data quality and meta data, generating more value-added data (indicators as distinct from raw data) and including more economic statistics (prices, incomes, etc.). The Committee noted the need to improve essential statistical information which formed the basis for estimating the number of hungry as reported annually in the State of Food Insecurity in the World. Attention was drawn to the continuing need for technical assistance and tools to improve statistical capacity at the national level.
9. The Committee took note of proposals to refine FIVIMS as a tool for better targeting of measures for the alleviation of poverty and food insecurity. It appreciated efforts to integrate FIVIMS methodology with the country-based UNDAF/CCA4 and PRSPs5 processes and to engage in capacity building for greater country-level ownership and application of these tools.
10. The Committee appreciated the priority, through the WAICENT6 outreach programme, to national capacity building for the transfer of WAICENT methodologies and tools, together with training to countries for the management and exchange of information. It urged that progress continue to be made in language parity and noted the need to improve accessibility to, and visibility of the FAO website. The Committee also noted efforts underway to integrate WAICENT within the Organization’s technical disciplines, including through the PAIA7 on QINF for improved quality in information collection and exchange.
11. The Committee recalled that Programme 2.2.3 aimed at responding to Members’ needs for independent, timely and reliable information on food supply/demand and emergency situations, medium-term commodity projections and market analyses and longer-term global outlook studies. It supported efforts being made to enhance the effectiveness of information products, notably through improved timeliness, greater relevance and targeted dissemination to concerned audiences. The Committee highlighted in this respect: the revision of the annual State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) with a thematic focus on major agriculture and food security issues; a more analytical Commodity Market Review, along with electronic market situation reports updated throughout the year; a new report focusing on the state of commodity markets to be issued at the next session of the Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP); and a short, popular version of the major report, Agriculture Towards 2015/30, to be issued at the time of the World Food Summit: five years later.
12. In reiterating the importance of Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS, entity 223P6), the Committee considered that the level of resources for GIEWS needed to be commensurate with the growing number of emergencies world wide. In recent years, Members' requests for food supply assessment missions had increased substantially and could no longer be met from resources within Major Programme 2.2.
13. The Committee stressed that Programme 2.2.4 embodied the importance that members attached to the contributions of agriculture to economic and rural development and to poverty alleviation and food security. It stressed the importance of work aimed at supporting implementation of the World Food Summit (WFS) commitments, monitoring progress towards achievement of the WFS targets and analysing successes and failures in this regard, but expressed serious concern that analytical work in preparation for the Mid-term Review in 2006 of Progress towards the WFS Target and World Food Summit Monitoring had to be curtailed at the ZRG budget level.
14. The Committee noted the proposal to develop indicators for monitoring the Millennium Development Goals relating to hunger reduction, and the inclusion of food security concerns in the implementation of environmental agreements. It also stressed the importance of linking the dissemination of tools and information in member countries with training and capacity building in their applications, as was being done effectively with the Guide for Vulnerable Group Profiling and the Handbook on Operationalising Food Security Information and Early Warning Systems.
15. The Committee emphasized, in the wake of the Doha trade agreement, the need to strengthen national capacities, particularly of developing countries, to participate fully in the new round of World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations on agriculture, and urged that capacity building activities be intensified. It expressed satisfaction with the multidisciplinary approach being adopted, which drew on expertise from all parts of FAO and partnerships with other organizations including WTO, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Office of Epizootics (OIE). In this connection, the Committee endorsed the proposal to launch a new Umbrella Training Programme with extra-budgetary contributions.
16. The Committee also noted the need for methodological frameworks and in-depth analyses which responded to developing country requirements in preparation for the next round of WTO negotiations on agriculture. Further, it also supported analytical work on emerging global commodity and trade issues and policies, and underlined the importance of objective assessments of the impact of trade liberalization and agricultural subsidies on low-income countries dependent on agricultural exports, particularly on poor farmers.
17. The Committee appreciated the slight increase in regular programme resources which had been allocated to the major programme in 2002-03. It noted the continued relatively high ratio of extra-budgetary resources in comparison with regular programme resources. The Committee endorsed efforts of the Forestry Department to actively collaborate with other FAO departments, including through PAIAs.
18. With respect to Programme 2.4.1 Forest Resources, the Committee stressed the importance of linkages between sustainable forest management, poverty alleviation, food security and environmental conservation, especially but not limited to countries with arid lands and fragile ecosystems. It supported the inclusion of a major output in the Medium Term Plan 2004-09 specifically addressing the linkages between forest management and forest harvesting. In recalling also the importance of forest products, including non-wood forest products, the Committee appreciated the increase in regular programme resources allocated to Programme 2.4.2.
19. Regarding Programme 2.4.3, Forestry Policy and Planning, the Committee supported work on forest sector outlook studies and stressed the importance of providing practical advice and support to Members with respect to forest economics, with due attention to language balance in related outputs. It also supported the initiation of the National Forest Programme Facility.
20. With respect to Programme 2.4.4, Forest Programmes Coordination and Information, the Committee endorsed FAO’s continued efforts to improve the quality and accessibility of forestry information. It recognised FAO’s active support for international processes, including the United Nations Forum on Forests encouraging FAO to continue its leadership and active participation in the Collaborative Partnership on Forests. The Committee appreciated action to increase collaboration with the post-UNCED conventions, including the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Convention to Combat Desertification.
21. The Committee welcomed this important evaluation, which it felt had been fully independent, thorough and objective, providing balanced and constructive criticism to strengthen the SPFS. Although the evaluation had been costly, the Committee suggested that independent external evaluations of other, selected FAO programmes could be useful. The positive response of senior management and the intention of the Organization to draw on the evaluation in reinforcing the SPFS, were also appreciated. The Committee also found the explanations of the findings by the evaluation team leader useful and informative.
22. The evaluation had emphasised the potential role which the SPFS could play in overcoming food insecurity. Impact from the SPFS could only be assured when there was national ownership and when development occurred from the bottom up with broad stakeholder involvement. This required time and a flexible design responding to individual country requirements.
23. The evaluation report had pointed to examples of positive impacts from the SPFS as well as to many of the problems faced by the Programme. Several Members drew attention to their own experiences with the SPFS, which had been reflected in national policies and resulted in desires to expand the programme. The commitment of FAO management to put in place a more effective and practical monitoring and evaluation system for national SPFS programmes was very much welcomed, with emphasis on assessing economic viability and replicability of approaches, as well as their immediate impact on household food security.
24. There was agreement on the primary importance of household food security, and the Committee discussed how this was to be best addressed within the context of the SPFS. Several Members stressed the priority need of the poor who cultivate marginal sites and who have limited access to food. Others noted that the poor were not restricted to marginal areas and that in LIFDCs a primary concern was to assure an adequate national food supply. The Committee emphasised the need for a better gender balance in the SPFS.
25. The Committee discussed the findings of the evaluation report with regard to the desirability of prioritising cooperation under the SPFS. Several Members felt that it was essential to address the needs of all LIFDCs and noted that several non-LIFDCs had also demonstrated their desire for the programme by substantially funding work by FAO in their own countries. Other Members of the Committee emphasised that, in a situation of finite resources, prioritisation to achieve real impact from Regular Programme resources was essential. In their view this would also facilitate the greater mobilisation of donor funds.
26. The Committee agreed that South-South Cooperation brought a valuable new dimension to technical cooperation. Some Members emphasised that the programme was playing a key role in extending experience between countries. Others also noted that there was a need to relate South-South Cooperation closely to the specific needs and absorptive capacity of host countries and that greater engagement of national expertise could also be important. The evaluation report contained useful practical ideas to increase the efficacy of South-South Cooperation, including the need for gender balance and family visits by co-operators.
27. The constructive criticism in the report provided valuable assistance to FAO management as it sought to increase the impact of the programme. The Committee welcomed the information it received on the flexible and people-centred approach which, it was informed, had come to be a feature of the SPFS in more recent years. The Committee welcomed the initiatives now being taken by management to strengthen the SPFS and implement recommendations of the evaluation team. The Committee was informed of the arrangements now being put in place to secure a fuller engagement of the technical expertise of the Organization and to ensure greater integration of environmental aspects, policies on food security and FIVIMs. Preparations were being made to set up a Technical Support Group, update the Concept Paper on the SPFS, revise guidelines and to train concerned staff in project design and implementation approaches, with an emphasis on participative methods. Preparation of a Monitoring and Evaluation Manual was in progress.
28. In conclusion, the Committee welcomed the commitment evidenced by management to use the recommendations of the evaluation team to strengthen the SPFS and its approach. It requested a follow-up report at its May 2003 session on progress made in implementing the SPFS and in introducing the many positive changes that management had referred to in its responses to the report.
29. The Committee appreciated the concise and informative evaluation report as well as the clear comments of the External Review Panel and responsive reaction from departmental management. It noted with satisfaction that management was already addressing many of the suggestions made by this Evaluation through the development of the Medium Term Plan (MTP) proposals.
30. The Committee recognised the growing global importance of animal health issues and the role FAO played through this programme. It agreed with the overall findings of the evaluation, and commended the staff for the excellent progress made under the EMPRES-Livestock programme, especially in the implementation of GREP8. It also endorsed virtually all the recommendations of the evaluation, including those for addressing the human and financial resource constraints of AGAH, the required extra-budgetary support for EMPRES-related field operations, and the need to review the animal health programme priorities in the context of medium-term planning. The one area where the Committee did not accept the recommendation of the Evaluation, concerned the work on veterinary services. In this case, the Committee was in favour of the position taken by the External Review Panel and departmental management that the Veterinary Services Group should be maintained, but that it should refocus its work on the role of public veterinary services, particularly in essential disease control activities. The Committee underscored the need to advise caution when privatising veterinary services, which produce public goods not easily replicated by the private sector. It also stressed the importance for FAO of working closely with international partners in animal health.
31. The Committee noted the reservations concerning the results of the TCP/non-EMPRES projects in relation to the follow-up and interest of Governments in those projects.
32. Finally, the Committee recommended that in future, evaluation reports include in an annex the terms of reference for the evaluation as well as the names of the evaluation team and external review panel.
33. The Programme Committee found this Evaluation useful, providing a concise assessment of progress being made in the implementation of this component of the EMPRES Programme. It appreciated the informative comments of the External Review Panel and the clear management response, noting that there was broad consensus among them on the main findings and recommendations. The Committee agreed also with the conclusion of the External Review Panel that the concept of the programme was technically, strategically and politically sound and that the programme should be implemented as expeditiously as is practicable.
34. The Committee recognised the need for securing adequate extra-budgetary resources to ensure continuation of the activities in the Central Region and to provide effective support to the nascent programme in the Western Region as well as other priority areas, such as the Eastern Region. While noting with satisfaction the recent progress made in the Central Region under difficult conditions, it shared the Evaluation’s concern about the inadequate level of donor support to the programme in general. It stressed that extra-budgetary resources were essential to help the countries concerned in modernising and in making best use of their existing national capacity, thus ensuring sustainability of desert locust management. The Committee noted that in setting relative priorities for countries to be assisted with the very limited resources available, the transboundary nature of the desert locust made it essential to address groups of neighbouring countries for effective control and prevention. In this respect, the Committee noted with satisfaction the inclusion of funding for EMPRES in the FAO Trust Fund for Food Security and Food Safety. The Secretariat was making efforts to maintain close cooperation with various international research and technical organizations in developing alternative control methods that would respond better to growing environmental concerns, including bio-pesticides.
35. The Committee endorsed the main recommendations of the Evaluation, including the need to ensure adequate Regular Programme and extra-budgetary resources to enable AGPP to perform its work. It also considered that it was desirable, as additional resources become available, to expand the coverage of the programme, both in terms of geographical areas and other pests with priority for locust species, so long as such expansion would not jeopardise the operations already initiated. In this respect, the Committee agreed that a first priority would be on countries in Central Asia to address locust problems in Afghanistan in a sustainable manner.
36. The Committee reviewed the history of the progress report. It noted that a thematic review of FAO's external training was undertaken in 2000-01 at the request of the Programme Committee to assess the quality of training approaches and materials developed in FAO during the period from 1994 to 1999. In response to the review, senior management established an inter-departmental task force, convened by the Extension, Education and Communication Service (SDRE) to formulate proposals for follow-up actions including resource implications.
37. The Committee appreciated the preliminary recommendations made by the task force on the development of a corporate approach and a structured planning process for training provided by external partners; strengthening staff competencies in the implementation of training activities delivered by staff; and the establishment of a training support capacity.
38. The Committee was informed that, since the submission of the progress report, the task force had completed recommendations related to reporting, monitoring and evaluation of training.
39. The Committee endorsed the overall approach followed by the task force and expressed appreciation for the progress made so far. It was noted that a further update addressing the issues raised in the report was expected from the Secretariat at the next session of the Committee.
40. The Committee welcomed the progress being made in the development of proposals for the modernization of FAOSTAT as a House-wide application. It stressed that this project was of high priority if FAO was to retain its credibility as a source of high-quality, comprehensive, timely and reliable statistical data. It noted that a new FAOSTAT, utilising modern web-based technologies, would allow for increased efficiency of statistical data processing, and improvements in data quality and dissemination of the final product. It supported the proposal for a scaled-down version of FAOSTAT which countries could install to support their own statistical work and facilitate the provision of statistics to FAO. However, the Committee expressed concern that timely implementation of the project should not be delayed pending the receipt of arrears and urged that alternative sources, including Regular Programme resources be considered as well. It recognised that the new FAOSTAT would have future ongoing maintenance requirements after the initial development phase was completed.
41. The Committee attached considerable importance to the successful implementation of the results-based approach to programme planning, monitoring and evaluation which was at the core of the new programming model. It appreciated the Progress Report on the Development of Indicators and the work that the Organization was undertaking to improve the application and verification of indicators which properly reflected the line of causability from the activities undertaken to the objective to be achieved. While recognising that the development of meaningful indicators in the programmes of FAO is a learning process, the Committee looked forward to further advancement and would review progress in its forthcoming consideration of the Medium Term Plan (MTP) 2004-09.
42. The Committee welcomed the document which provided interesting background and historical information, including a comparative analysis of the functions of the three Technical Committees pointing to some differences among them. It also recognised the practical difficulties inherent in providing Summary Programme of Work and Budget (SPWB) type information to the Technical Committees.
43. Accordingly, the Committee endorsed the compromise solution proposed by the Secretariat to the effect that COAG, COFI and COFO would receive specially prepared budget documents showing:
44. The Committee also agreed that this be implemented in 2003 on a trial basis, so that costs and benefits could be evaluated in 2004. The Committee also recommended that consideration be given to the harmonisation of the functions of the three Technical Committees in the context of the standing item of the Joint Meeting agenda on Savings and Efficiencies in Governance.
45. While noting that no document had been submitted to the present session, as there were no such instances to report so soon after the adoption of the current Programme of Work and Budget, the Committee agreed to keep this item on the agenda.
46. The Committee noted that the Finance Committee had addressed in some depth the report on "Strengthening the Investigations Function in UN System Organizations" and, therefore, focused its attention on the other JIU report submitted to this session: "UN System Support for Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean".
47. The Committee agreed in particular with the comments of the Director-General, including the proposed reactions to the recommendations in this report of relevance to FAO.
48. The Committee took note of this progress report.
49. Being the first session of the Biennium, the Committee agreed to address its working methods at the end of the next session when it had gained some experience of the current working methods.
50. The Committee agreed to draw to the attention of the Council that, in addition to the standing items on its agenda, it would discuss the following subjects at its next session:
51. The Committee noted that it was possible that the Thematic Review of FAO’s Agricultural Statistics would not be available in time for the September 2002 session in which case it would be submitted to the following session.
52. The Committee also requested that it be provided at its next session with information on those FAO activities which were expected to be funded from extra-budgetary resources, relating such activities to the programme priorities in the medium term.
53. With regard to the Review of Programmes, some members felt that it would help the Committee if more formal documentation was available in advance of the meeting to guide the discussion of this item. However, it recognised that this would inevitably result in the duplication of material already available to the Committee. It was agreed that, as the Programme Implementation Report 2000-01 would be available at the next session, no further material would need to be provided in advance of the meeting. The Committee also agreed to consider ways in which it could fulfil its obligation to the Council to review programmes in the normal course of its planning and programming reviews, without it necessarily being a separate item on the Programme Committee agenda.
54. In discussing the Information Note on the Joint FAO/WHO Evaluation of the Codex Alimentarius and Other FAO and WHO Work on Food Standards, the Committee stressed the importance of this major evaluation to all members of FAO and the requirement that it should be fully independent. The Committee noted that the evaluation would examine all the food standards related work of FAO and WHO, including: the Codex Alimentarius and its Commission and Committees; the expert advice provided by FAO and WHO in establishing standards; and the capacity building work of the Organizations to enable developing countries to make positive use of standards for the protection of consumers and to facilitate trade.
55. The Committee noted that the timing of governing body meetings in WHO necessitated finalization of the evaluation report during 2002 if changes were to be reflected by WHO in its 2004-05 biennium budget. Concern was expressed that the relatively short period available for the evaluation might make it difficult for all aspects to be adequately considered, including the organization and management of Codex and the need for greater efficiency. However, the Committee was informed by the Evaluation Service that the entire Terms of Reference could be addressed in the time available. It was suggested that the evaluation should make use of the forward thinking already provided by the discussions in Codex, including through the Codex Strategic Framework approved by the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
56. The Committee stressed that the credibility of this important evaluation demanded that the views of the developing countries and all interest groups and cultures be adequately reflected in the institutional arrangements for the evaluation. In this context, several members urged that existing imbalances be rectified, in full consultation with WHO, by broadening the composition of the expert panel.
57. Several members of the Committee expressed concern that the evaluation terms of reference were too broad and included non-science based aspects such as “ethical and cultural considerations” in food standards. In their view, this had been already discussed and resolved in Codex and it was not appropriate for it to be examined by the evaluation. The Committee was informed by the Secretariat that the Terms of Reference had been developed jointly by the evaluation services of the two parent bodies (i.e. FAO and WHO) and that, of necessity, these had to include a full range of issues without any prejudgement of the outcome.
58. The Committee welcomed the intention to ensure full transparency and input from the membership and other stakeholders through a variety of means:
59. It was also recognised that the membership would be fully involved in discussion of the recommendations in both the Committees of Codex and the Governing Bodies of FAO and WHO. The Committee asked that the FAO membership be kept informed of progress in the evaluation through appropriate means, including an update to the Committee in September and reports to the Codex Executive Committee.
60. The Committee discussed the need for FAO to raise its profile and improve its image. It was noted that the Committee would have an opportunity to discuss the matter further when it received the Thematic Evaluation on the Strategy for Communicating FAO’s Messages. It therefore decided to await the outcome of this evaluation before taking the matter up on its agenda.
1 PC 87/1 – PC 87/INF/1
2 Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives
3 Joint FAO/WHO Meeting on Pesticide Residues
4 United Nations Development Assistance Framework/Common Country Assessment
5 Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper(s)
6 World Agricultural Information Centre
7 Priority Area for Inter-disciplinary Action
8 Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme