Hundred and twenty-third Session
Rome, 28 October-2 November 2002
Report of the Eighty-eighth Session of the Programme Committee
MATTERS REQUIRING ATTENTION BY THE COUNCIL
Major Programme 2.1: Agricultural Production and Support Systems
Major Programme 2.2: Food and Agriculture Policy and Development
Major Programme 2.3: Fisheries
Major Programme 2.4: Forestry
Major Programme 2.5: Contributions to Sustainable Development and Special Programme Thrusts
Major Programme 3.1: Policy Assistance
Medium Term Plan 2004-2009
Programme Implementation Report 2000-2001
UN Joint Inspection Unit Reports
Progress Report on the Follow-up of Past Programme Committee Recommendations
Review of Working Methods of the Programme Committee
Possible Items for Discussion at the Next Session
Any Other Business
1. The Committee submits to the Council the following report of its Eighty-eighth Session.
2. The following Members were present:
|Chairman||Mr. J. Berteling (Netherlands)
Mr. B. J. Hughes (Australia)
Mr. B.G. Hankey (Canada)
Mr. Z. Tang (China)
Mr. B. Gutiérrez Zuluaga Botero (Colombia)
Mr. R.B. Khalid (Malaysia)
Mr. M.M. Touré (Mali)
Ms. A.M. Baiardi Quesnel (Paraguay)
Mr. M.S.M.A. Harbi (Sudan)
3. The Agenda and Timetable for the meeting were approved.
4. The Committee agreed to combine its examination of the Medium Term Plan 2004-09 (MTP) with the programmed review of Major Programmes 2.3 Fisheries and 2.5 Contributions to Sustainable Development and Special Programme Thrusts as foreseen under item 4 on its agenda.
5. The Committee recalled the contribution of the rolling Medium Term Plan to the planning and budgeting process endorsed by FAO Governing Bodies. It noted that the preparation of this second version of the revamped MTP had benefited from a training programme and enhanced computer system support. In receiving a presentation of the main features of the new system, the Committee felt that it would be useful for the membership at large to be aware of its capacity through a presentation to Permanent Representatives.
6. The Committee welcomed several improvements made in the format of the document, including the provision of a more explicit list of opportunities for extra-budgetary support in Part I, a better articulation of the rationale for the proposed programme entities and more realistic indicators under Part II, and a greatly expanded Part III covering the Strategies to Address Cross-Organizational Issues. It recalled that more detailed information was, as usual, available for consultation on FAO's Internet Website.
7. The Committee recognized that the otherwise desirable objectives of providing maximum information to Members and of making each version of the MTP document as self-contained as possible conflicted with the need to keep the size of the document to manageable proportions, and also led to potential duplication between successive versions. Moreover, a document of ever-growing size was somewhat contrary to the spirit of a rolling plan, the prime focus of which should be on explaining changes from one version to the next.
8. In addressing the substance of proposals in the Plan, the Committee welcomed the fact that these had been formulated so that they contributed to the objectives stated in the Strategic Framework 2000-2015. At the same time, the Secretariat had sought to prepare a programme of work which responded satisfactorily to expressed priorities of the membership. The Committee underlined the substantial progress made by the Organization over the last few years in applying strategic planning and results-based budgeting principles, in particular through a family of programme planning documents, but recognized that further efforts were needed to improve the results based planning process.
9. The Committee recalled that priority-setting in the context of inter-governmental Organizations such as FAO was a complex matter which had been addressed on many occasions by FAO Governing Bodies, including the endorsement by the Council of a set of criteria for this purpose. While recognizing that the total resources eventually approved by the Conference for a given financial period were ultimately the main determining factor in limiting priorities, the Committee recalled that the MTP was not the vehicle to provide a detailed budgetary proposal; this, rather, was the function of the Programme of Work and Budget (PWB) formulation and discussion process. In this light, the Committee concurred that the prime scope of the MTP was to present a balanced package of activities, in close conformity with the general strategic orientations approved by the Governing Bodies, which would be responsive to expressed needs of the whole membership.
10. In observing the further progress made in the application of the new programming approach, including appropriate indicators for the programme entities under Part II, the Committee agreed that the identification of satisfactory indicators was not always straightforward, as this depended on the context, including the degree of influence FAO could have on the use of outputs by the intended beneficiaries. While bearing in mind these difficulties, the Committee urged continued attention to selecting precise and effectively measurable indicators, so as to promote support to the proposed activities from the membership.
11. The Committee noted that, as in the previous version, indicative resource projections had been included in the Plan. The Committee concurred that these were useful to Members in appreciating the levels of resources required to implement the individual entities as fully as possible, and to ensure appropriate balance among them.
12. The Committee welcomed the comprehensive information on existing arrangements for division of work, the objectives sought and the identified priorities under the sixteen Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action (PAIAs). It recalled that these PAIAs had been endorsed for the first time in the previous MTP document and had thus just started operating in the current 2002-03 biennium. The Committee recognized that these PAIAs were among the most visible expressions of the commitment of all FAO units to work on a multi-disciplinary basis to address key problems. However, it observed that progress in achieving their objectives could be uneven among the selected PAIAs and that the transaction costs of cross-sectoral collaboration in a large Organization such as FAO should not be overlooked. The Committee, therefore, looked forward to being appraised of progress made in the light of experience, and to eventually revised proposals, as required.
13. The Committee emphasized the contributions of this Major Programme to developing technologies for farmers to intensify agricultural production while sustainably managing land and water resources, addressing the biosecurity risks of exchanges of agricultural inputs and products, and improving rural livelihoods. It also highlighted the emphasis on technical support to national poverty reduction strategies, safety in the food chain, and international regulatory instruments including IPPC2, PIC3 and the International Treaty on PGRFA4. The Committee further recognized the contribution of Integrated Pest Management to a comprehensive plant protection and crop-associated biodiversity strategy, and the continued need to assist Members with disposal of obsolete pesticides.
14. The Committee recalled the importance of the IPPC in the facilitation of international trade and the protection of plant resources. It, therefore, expressed serious concern at the potential shortfall in funding in relation to the approved activities of the IPPC in the present biennium and stressed the need for additional allocations to accelerate the standard setting process. The Committee noted, however, that any deficit of resources in the current biennium would need to be handled within existing budgetary authority and welcomed the Secretariat’s clear assurance that every effort would be made to do this. The Committee urged that high priority be maintained for work on IPPC, including for developing the information system and ensuring sufficient participation of developing countries. It appreciated the proposed substantial increase in resources in the MTP and emphasized in the medium term, to maintain a sustainable programme on setting 4 standards per annum, maintain information exchange and provide support to technical assistance.
15. The Committee noted that the proposals in the MTP also sought to raise the profile of livestock activities. It referred to the significance of the Veterinary Public Health portfolio, in particular BSE-related work. The Committee also commended EMPRES Livestock activities, trusting that the aim of full eradication of the rinderpest virus by 2010 would remain on course. It stressed the need to facilitate transition in countries to sustainable mixed public/private sector livestock and veterinary services. The Committee welcomed the continued strong collaboration between FAO and IAEA through the Joint Division, as exemplified by PAAT5 and FAO’s active participation in the planning and management of PATTEC6 to facilitate the use of Sterile Insect Technique within an overall area-wide Integrated Pest Management approach contributing to sustainable agriculture and rural development.
16. The Committee was reassured that the new entity 214A9 on Enhancing Food Quality and Safety by Strengthening Handling, Processing and Marketing in the Food Chain was fully complementary to the standard setting work of Codex and entity 221P8, Food Quality and Safety throughout the Food Chain, by addressing capacity building and implementation needs of developing countries in a multi-disciplinary approach.
17. The Committee observed that this Major Programme was particularly responsive to the outcomes of international conferences and emerging issues in the international arena. It endorsed the proposed new Intra-Departmental Programme 2.2.0, which clustered those entities that related most directly to food security and were inter-disciplinary in nature.
18. The Committee realized that follow-up work would need to be factored in to respond to those elements of the Declaration adopted by the recent Johannesburg Summit (WSSD) which related to FAO’s mandate. It appreciated that the renewed recognition of the importance of investment in agriculture and rural development, as well as direct support to the hungry (the “twin-track” approach) during the World Summit on Sustainable Development was greatly assisted by FAO’s contribution to the UN Secretary-General’s WEHAB initiative (Water, Energy, Health, Agriculture, Biodiversity). In particular, the FAO Secretariat paper, Anti-Hunger Programme, had formed the basis of its contribution to the “Agriculture” component of WEHAB.
19. The Committee supported the proposal in the MTP that work related to World Food Summit follow-up should be extended to include FAO‘s contribution to monitoring of the Millennium Development Goals and participation in the Millennium Project.
20. The Committee was informed that Major Programme 2.2 was increasingly involved in partnership arrangements with other agencies/organizations and collaboration with other departments, as exemplified by the above WEHAB initiative, work related to the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, capacity building for biosecurity including food safety through the food chain and other initiatives.
21. Within the context of Programme 2.2.4, the Committee received clarification on the scope of entity 224P3 – Economics of Natural Resources and Environmental Sustainability, which underpinned FAO’s contribution to various environmental conventions and agreements and addressed the “economics” dimension in support of the work of other units.
22. The Committee underlined the “advocacy” role of Major Programme 2.2 in relation to the Organization’s main goals of improving nutrition and food security, and contributing to a rules-based food and agricultural trading system. It also had a key role in mobilizing political will to scale-up investment in agriculture, both through Official Development Assistance and in national budgets of developing countries.
23. The Committee noted with appreciation the emphasis placed in the Medium Term Plan on the equal treatment of languages in the activities of the Organization and on the dissemination of agricultural information using a variety of media.
24. The Committee acknowledged the positive achievements under Major Programme 2.3 Fisheries and, with reference to the proposals in the Medium Term Plan, considered that they were well targeted and balanced. It was pleased to note that the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and related international plans of action, which underpinned a substantial part of planned activities, had received due recognition in the Declaration of the World Summit on Sustainable Development recently concluded in Johannesburg.
25. The Committee welcomed the emphasis placed on small-scale fisheries development and urged that continued attention be paid to the development of inland fisheries. It underlined in this connection the need to address the inter-relationship between inland fisheries and agriculture, particularly from the point of view of pollution of the environment (from agriculture practices). The Committee also stressed the importance of improvements in livelihoods in fishing communities, with due emphasis on gender aspects.
26. The Committee recognised the high priority of work on fish quality and safety, the development of aquaculture, as well as the provision of reliable information and data on all aspects of fisheries including capacity building in these areas. Improving the capacity of developing countries experts in stock assessment and to be able to participate in trade negotiations, was also very important.
27. In response to concerns about reliance on extra-budgetary resources for the newly established Sub-Committee on Aquaculture, the Committee was informed that the increased resources proposed in the Medium Term Plan would obviate this situation.
28. The Committee underscored the need to strengthen further regional fishery bodies, as well as promoting close partnership with regional fisheries management organizations. The Committee recommended that the relative preferential treatment for resource allocations to Major Programme 2.3 Fisheries be preserved in the Programme of Work and Budget, particularly to support responsible conservation and management of capture fisheries (both in marine and inland environment) and the development of environmentally sound aquaculture.
29. The Committee appreciated the presentation and thrusts of the Major Programme for Forestry, in particular, as it addressed the needs of Members for a balanced approach between the economic, social, environmental and production aspects of forests. It endorsed the new programme entities which would be implemented through inter-disciplinary approaches. The Committee welcomed the substantial increase in funding proposed, both in absolute terms and as a proportion of the total resources. The Committee recommended that the relative preferential treatment for resource allocations to Major Programme 2.4 Forestry be preserved in the Programme of Work and Budget.
30. The Committee recommended strengthening of forestry activities in the Regional Office for the Near East, noting the critical need to support capacity building in the region. It supported the attention given to the special problems of countries with low forest cover, countries in the Mediterranean basin and to the sustainable livelihoods of local populations when reclassifying forest areas, including collaboration with other organizations under the umbrella of the Convention to Combat Desertification. In this regard the Committee welcomed the recent decision by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) to include dry-lands as a new priority area for GEF funding.
31. The Committee noted the increased collaboration between the Forestry Department and other Departments, for example, in the areas of climate change, combating desertification, conservation of biological diversity, and ecosystem management. It also welcomed efforts to increase collaboration with other international organizations active in forestry.
32. The Committee noted the achievements under Major Programme 2.5 and expressed broad support for the medium-term proposals. It recalled the role of the Sustainable Development Department in facilitating FAO-wide coordinated activities in important cross-sectoral areas such as: gender, population, environment, climate change and sustainable livelihoods. It noted that follow-up to the Johannesburg Summit had already largely been anticipated in the proposals.
33. Among the many dimensions of rural development addressed by the Major Programme, the Committee emphasized the importance of participatory approaches involving all stakeholders, particularly local communities, farmers and the private sector in order to ensure full ownership of development programmes and projects by beneficiaries. The Committee also recognized the need to address the implications of HIV/AIDS, while stressing that other diseases affecting rural populations and their livelihoods, such as malaria, tuberculosis, trypanosomiasis and respiratory ailments must also be considered. It supported attention to knowledge sharing on natural resources and the environment, particularly in the area of climate change, as well as to developing sustainable agricultural practices adapted to changing climatic conditions.
34. The Committee recommended that adequate attention should also be given to partnerships with NGOs/CSOs and farmers’ organizations, including field activities in support of farmers’ organizations in critical processes of institutional reform. It also recommended that the type of training being offered to development workers and agents in areas of gender and natural resource management, be more clearly described in the future.
35. The Committee welcomed the attention to gender-differentiated effects of globalization in the context of commercialization and liberalization of agricultural trade. It highlighted the importance of strengthening national and regional agricultural research, extension and knowledge transfer systems.
36. In connection with programme 2.5.6, the Committee was pleased to note the actions being taken to respond to the findings of the Independent Evaluation of the SPFS, following its review of the Evaluation Report at its previous session. It observed that this positive response would undoubtedly facilitate further donor support.
37. The Committee took note of the progressive expansion of the SPFS and, within it, of South-South Cooperation arrangements. It stressed the need to pursue active contacts with potential sources of funds, so as to ensure adequate financing for programme implementation. The Committee also saw a need for a close link to advocacy activities for stronger action against hunger, including the access dimensions of food insecurity.
38. The Committee observed that the proposed substantial increase in Regular Programme resources for the SPFS was meant particularly for the effective management and coordination of a programme which was expanding rapidly in response to demands. Some Members recommended that the Secretariat explore other options for meeting part of the incremental management costs, given that much of the financing of SPFS field activities was from extra-budgetary resources, including Unilateral Trust Funds from concerned developing country governments.
39. The Committee took note with appreciation of the steps taken in follow-up to the Evaluation Report on Policy Assistance which it had considered at an earlier session. In particular, follow-up to identified regional priorities and maintaining the demand driven nature of policy assistance work have been, as recommended by the Evaluation Report, duly pursued bearing in mind the comparative advantages of the Organization. Reorganization of TCA had been implemented, with a view of ensuring, inter alia, close cooperation with other technical units, and addressing the increased complexity of sectoral and subsectoral policy work at the national level. However, the Committee observed that these new trends consistent with the Evaluation Report and other Governing Bodies’ guidance, could not be easily perceived from current language in the MTP and urged improvements in future versions.
40. The Committee was also informed about the increased role of TCA in support of the Field Programme based on a programme approach at the country level, recognizing the major priorities defined by the concerned ministries and in complementarity with the World Bank’s Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers and other major national development frameworks. The Committee took note of the positive results of key recent initiatives, such as the development and promotion, in partnership with Regional Economic Organizations, of Regional Programmes for Food Security, which covered trade facilitation, food safety measures and support to national efforts on food security. Other positive experiences stemmed from FAO’s collaboration in the preparation of NEPAD’s Comprehensive Agricultural Development Programme and its follow-up with Regional Economic Organizations in Africa and African countries, and the policy assistance input to the preparation of the Early Agricultural Rehabilitation Strategy in Afghanistan.
41. The Committee received clarification on the linkages and complementarities between policy assistance work and work under Programme 2.5.3 related to rural institutions, as well as the Special Programme for Food Security.
42. Bearing in mind the special interest of the Finance Committee in some of them, the Committee addressed these strategies in a selective manner, while welcoming the clarity of presentation and the more thorough exposition of proposed actions under all these strategies, than done in the previous plan. It focused its discussion more particularly on Ensuring Excellence, Broadening Partnerships and Alliances, and Communicating FAO’s Messages.
43. The Committee received updated information on several important aspects, including on-going and future cooperation with specific institutions such as IFAD, WFP, WHO and IAEA, contacts with the private sector, and the major communication efforts made in support of FAO’s advocacy role, most recently in the context of the World Summit for Sustainable Development.
44. The Committee also appreciated that due attention had been placed on staff skills enhancement, a concern which in effect permeated many of the strategies, and received clarifications on future initiatives in the realm of recruitment.
45. The Committee appreciated the comprehensive information contained in the report, including the use of tables and charts to facilitate consideration of underlying data. Recalling the need for the concerned authorities in Member Nations to be able to analyse its contents with due care, it recommended that besides the timely transmittal of the document to Members of the Committee, at least 28 days before the session commences, attention be paid also to earliest possible release on FAO’s Internet Web site – preferably in advance of delivery of the document.
46. In welcoming the information provided in Annex II on geographical representation and gender of professional staff, the Committee received assurance of the firm commitment to improve further gender balance according to the already established target of 35 percent of Professional Staff of the Secretariat being women, by the end of the current biennium.
47. Among the achievements reported for the past biennium, the Committee noted the efforts made to ensure more adequate language balance in substantive activities, and reiterated the need to pursue vigorously the language policy approved by FAO Governing Bodies.
48. The Committee observed that the rapid expansion of emergency-related activities had somewhat masked a situation of relative stagnation for the non-emergency field programme in the 2000-01 biennium. However, in receiving updated information on current developments regarding the field programme, including in support of the SPFS, the Committee welcomed the firm trends of a gradual reversal of earlier declines. It emphasized in this connection the importance of decentralization, including the transfer of responsibilities for field operations to FAO country offices, which had been a major initiative of the past biennium.
49. The Committee observed that the delivery of outputs had been on the whole satisfactory, while the rate of implementation naturally varied among the various programmes or types of outputs, particularly in order to accommodate new requirements or demands. It received clarifications on existing arrangements for introducing and reporting changes to approved programmes, so that the Organization could address such unforeseen circumstances.
50. The Committee recalled that several key features of the new programming model, including due attention to intended outcomes, would influence the format of future versions of the Programme Implementation Report. It looked forward to receiving proposals in this regard in due course. The Committee recommended that aspects such as the regional dimensions of programmes which were of direct interest to many delegations, and improved information on the impact of activities, for which gaps were noted in the document, be addressed in this planned overhaul of the PIR.
51. The Committee noted that this thematic evaluation represented the first of its kind and was aimed at assessing the Organization’s programmes in the framework of its strategic objectives. The Committee welcomed the evaluation’s comprehensive approach to the strategy through a systematic review of normative activities and an assessment of a balanced sample of relief and rehabilitation operations in the field. It also appreciated the survey of the views of Members and main international partners concerned. It considered the evaluation a positive initiation of strategy-oriented evaluation.
52. The Committee found the evaluation an informative and useful assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of FAO’s activities. It also appreciated the candid and critical examination of issues in the evaluation as well as the comments of the external peer review panel.
53. The Committee endorsed the recommendations in general, although many members felt that given their large number, a clear indication of relative priority between them would have been useful, as suggested by the external review panel. The Committee highlighted the importance of recommendations concerning:
54. The Committee welcomed the management response indicating that actions were being taken by the Secretariat on several of the recommendations.
55. The Committee underlined the relevance and usefulness of Strategy A3 Preparedness for, and effective and sustainable response to, food and agricultural emergencies. It highlighted the importance of developing a multi-disciplinary approach to exploit FAO’s comparative strengths particularly for preparedness activities and especially in disaster-prone countries. It also emphasized technical and policy-oriented advice in the difficult transition phase.
56. The Committee stressed the importance of strengthening partnerships with other agencies, donors and NGOs as well as participation of national authorities and local communities in this endeavour, including assistance in strengthening their capacity for preparedness and prevention.
57. While recognizing some weaknesses in FAO relief operations and transition assistance, the Committee appreciated the difficulties in achieving effective and sustainable results and noted that similar problems were also experienced by other agencies and donors. It thus urged the Secretariat to effectively follow up the evaluation recommendations and requested a progress report, in one year’s time, on the status of actions taken in their implementation. Finally, noting the lack of opportunity for an inter-governmental discussion on this important topic, it recommended that the Secretariat prepare a concise paper covering main issues and lessons on its emergency and rehabilitation activities as a basis for such a discussion during next year.
58. The Committee appreciated the actions taken by the FAO and WHO evaluation units to reflect the recommendations made at its 87th Session on the arrangements for the evaluation. The Committee in particular noted:
59. Several members reiterated points for the evaluation to consider, which had been emphasised at the last session of the Programme Committee and by the Codex Alimentarius Executive Committee, including the importance of the science base for food standards and that cultural and ethical issues should not sideline the major considerations of the evaluation; enhanced developing country participation in Codex decision making; consideration of management issues in the evaluation; and meeting the needs of developing countries for technical assistance in the area of food standards.
60. It was noted that while it was an exception for an evaluation report to be reviewed by the substantive committee (i.e. the Codex Alimentarius Commission) before it was considered by the Programme Committee, in this particular case it would be valuable. The Committee looked forward to reviewing the evaluation report at its next session.
61. The Committee took note of the two above-mentioned reports.
62. The Committee took note of this progress report.
63. The attention of the Committee was drawn by the Chairperson to his intention to resign from the Chair and Committee before completion of his term of office. The Committee discussed the rules of procedure which would apply in this event.
64. 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:
Follow-up of previous reports:
- the Thematic Review of FAO’s Training Activities – An Update;
- follow-up Report to the Evaluation of the Special Programme for Food Security;
- a Progress Report on the Evaluation of FAO’s Policy Assistance.
New Evaluation Reports:
- The Thematic Evaluation of Corporate Strategy B.1 (International instruments concerning food, agriculture, fisheries and forestry and the production, safe use and fair exchange of agricultural, fishery and forestry goods): the joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme (Codex Alimentarius); and
- The Evaluation of Programme 2.2.2 (Food and Agricultural Information) - activities related to Agricultural Statistics in the context of FAOSTAT.
65. The issue concerning the use of GM foods as food aid in Southern Africa was raised and discussed. In this context, the “UN Statement on the Use of GM Foods as Food Aid in Southern Africa”, prepared jointly by FAO, WFP and WHO on 27 August 2002 was distributed to members of the Programme Committee during their Joint Meeting with the Finance Committee, and clarifications were provided by the Secretariat.
1 PC 88/1 – PC 88/INF/1
2 International Plant Protection Convention
3 International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides and the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade
4 Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
5 Programmme Against African Trypanosomiasis
6 Pan African Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Eradication Campaign (IAEA/OAU)