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Medium-Term Objectives and Priorities (Including a Summary of the Recommendations Formulated by the Regional Conferences)1

40. The Council supported the suggestions of the Programme Committee as set out in paragraphs 74 to 84 of the Report of the Twenty-First Session 2, and paragraphs 40 to 44 of the Report of the Twenty-Second Session. 3

41. The Council agreed that “Medium-Term Objectives” was a more appropriate description of the approach than “Medium-Term Plan”.

42. The Council agreed that it was essential to recognize as the basis for consideration of this subject the following points of principle:

  1. Resource levels and detailed priorities can only be definitively set in biennial Programmes of Work and Budget;

  2. It was desirable to consider these in the context of objectives, priorities and foreseeable resources for the medium-term;

  3. It was the responsibility of the Director-General to make proposals on (i) and (ii) above, and the task of the Governing Bodies to pronounce on them. The Governing Bodies would naturally concern themselves with some details but should concentrate on broad requirements, trends, capacity and flexibility, particularly on alternative methods of achieving effective action;

  4. The trend of extra-budgetary resources was very difficult to anticipate and UNDP country programming placed the decision on sectoral allocations of UNDP resources on the countries themselves. Particular priorities for individual countries should thus normally find a place in their national development plans or in their UNDP country programmes and not in FAO's medium-term objectives. As regards the Regular Programme, FAO should not therefore be expected to undertake to meet all country priorities but rather to assist where most effective at the global or regional level, and at the country level only where this was feasible and effective within available resources;

  5. In this connexion, it should be remembered that the UNDP country programme was only a part, often a minor one, of countries' total development efforts. It was the latter to which FAO should be more concerned to shape the strategy and activities of the Organization.

43. The Council recognized that a great deal of work had been done and much had been accomplished in sharpening the priorities of the Organization. It felt however that even more could be done and that it should be a continuing process. The Council recalled that the Sixteenth Session of the Conference had tended to place highest priority on the Mobilization of Human Resources and Agricultural Development Planning and, in this connexion, emphasis was placed on the importance of scientific research development, nutrition and food policy, training of all types, agricultural extension and projection studies of agricultural exports. It was also suggested that special attention should be given to the needs of the 25 least developed countries.

44. In discussion of these and other proposals, the Council considered whether in its approach a distinction should be made between the consultative, advisory and operational roles of the Organization and, in particular, whether the main emphasis should be laid on the global aspects of the programme in determining priorities, but it was felt that no clear conclusions could be reached on this. The Council supported the recommendations of the Regional Conferences as one of the bases for determining priorities.

1 CL 59/PV/9, CL 59/PV/10 and CL 59/PV/20
2 CL 59/7
3 CL 59/22

45. The Council recognized however that priorities varied from region to region and country to country, which made it difficult to obtain a consensus on any one set of priorities. It was generally agreed that the Director-General had the responsibility for establishing Regular Programme priorities, within the framework of his budget and that he should do this taking into account the recommendations and suggestions of the Governing Bodies and its various committees and of the Regional Conferences.

46. Since these generally covered most roles and fields of the Organization's programme structure and content, the problem was essentially one of determining the right balance in the allocation of resources and their deployment from biennium to biennium, having regard to the limits of available resources, economy and effectiveness of action.

47. The Director-General was in the best position to make the necessary detailed assessment and to put forward his proposals to the Governing Bodies in his proposed Programmes of Work and Budget. The concept of a single programme as outlined by the Director-General in his statement 1 (and the proposed change in the issue of programme and budget documents) should facilitate the more effective implementation of the recommendations of Regional Conferences.

48. The Council also supported the recommendations of the Programme Committee concerning the presentation of objectives, priorities and activities in the Programme of Work and Budget, and in the new form of the separate document on Medium-Term Objectives which could deal with issues such as the development situation, future trends, strategies and policy options, the prospects of extra-budgetary resources, broad programme implications for FAO, etc.

49. With regard to the proposed change in programme structure, the Council agreed that it represented a considerable improvement over the former one and approved its use in preparation of the 1974–75 Programme of Work and Budget.

Programme Activities

Review of Programmes of Selected Divisions of the Organization2

50. The Council noted that its previous six-year cycle of reviews had been completed at its Fifty-Fifth Session and that the present review was the beginning of a new four-year cycle approved by the Fifty-Seventh Council Session. In the current review the activities of the Administration and Finance Department had been reviewed in detail by the Finance Committee, as requested by the Council, and the other activities had undergone a similar review by the Programme Committee.

(a) Management Services Division

51. The Council endorsed the view of the Finance Committee as to the importance of the functions of the Management Services Division which bore a close relationship to those of the Committee's objectives concerned with the increased effectiveness of the Organization. It concurred with the view that the Committee should pay continuing attention to the Division's work. One member suggested that the Committee should also review the Division's reports, to ensure that improvements in the efficiency of the Organization were brought about through the effective implementation of the recommendantions arising out of the review process. Increased use of the Division's services would also avoid the use of outside consultants in those of the Organization's areas of work that required review.

52. The Council noted that the Finance Committee had been informed that implementation of the recommendantions in the studies made by the Division was the primary responsibility of the department/division concerned and that instances of rejections of recommendations were few.

1 See Appendix D
2 CL 59/5, CL 59/7, CL 59/22, CL 59/PV/12, CL 59/PV/13 and CL 59/PV/20

53. The Council noted that a number of new management techniques had been introduced through the efforts of the Division, many of them with success. It particularly noted the establishment of the Management Support Units in departments/divisions which it considered had contributed to make the process of decision-making more effective and speedier, and agreed with the Finance Committee that further delegation to Management Support Units should be envisaged, at the same time ensuring that any duplication with the central units was avoided.

54. The Council noted that the time recording system developed by the Division was being applied in those areas of the Organization where it was the most suitable method of determining the cost of staff resources for programme elements and sub-programmes, and the distribution of these costs by sources of funds. It was informed that other methods of costing geared to the type of work involved were being developed for other areas, so that by the combined methods all the work of the Organization would be costed. It was also informed that a report would be produced for the Twenty-Ninth Session of the Finance Committee on how the system was working including the extent to which it was already being effectively used to improve the budgeting process and the information on the distribution of costs between FAO and other agencies which provided funds.

(b) Office of Controller

55. The Council noted that the Finance Committee had discussed ways of simplifying rules and procedures and that the Committee had been informed of the Organization's submission of a number of suggestions to the Special Committee for the Review of the UN Salary System (Committee of Eleven).

56. Other questions discussed by the Finance Committee concerned payment procedures, the payroll system, the workload effect of actions taken to meet the financial problem, budgetary control by object of expenditure, looking to such control by sub-programmes at a later date, staff supported by extra-budgetary funds and the functions of outposted Budget and Finance Officers.

57. The Council agreed that the Finance Committee should pursue certain matters covered in its Report in more detail when the Office of Controller was next reviewed.

(c) Administrative Services Division

58. The Council noted the Finance Committee's desire to review the allocation of posts to UNDP in this Division. While it was agreed that such a review would be useful, the Council was informed that this apparent disproportionate allocation of posts may have resulted from the fact that the Finance Committee had only been provided with information concerning Professional posts. It was also informed that of the four Branches in the Division, three (i.e. Contracts Branch, Purchasing and Control Branch and Field and Headquarters Services Branch) were principally concerned with the field programmes.

59. The Council expressed the hope that the authority for purchases by field staff might be extended beyond the present $1,000 limit in an effort to expedite procurement and to lighten the burden of procurement at Headquarters. In this regard it was suggested that with a higher limit the Senior Agricultural Advisers/FAO Country Representatives in the field could countersign procurement orders emanating from Project Managers. The Council was advised that delegation of authority for purchases by field staff had been subject to continuous review by the Organization and that last year the level had been increased from $500 to $1,000. The Organization was continuing to review the possibility of effectively increasing the extent of this delegation. The Council was informed however, that sometimes field staff did not have the essential information required to undertake certain procurement and it would be essential for Headquarters to provide procurement services notwithstanding the extent of delegation to the field.

60. The Council noted that a review of contract procedures would be undertaken by the Finance Committee and in carrying out this review particular attention would be given to the question of maximum dissemination of information as regards future contracts in order that capable and interested firms would be in a position to make their interest known and compete in the award of such contracts. 1

(d) Other Programmes and Divisions

61. With regard to the review of programmes in Chapters 1, 3, 4 and 5 the Council recognized the importance of the work of the Industry Cooperative Programme in helping to secure participation by industry in the development process, particularly by missions of industrialists to countries requesting them. The Council emphasized that such steps encouraged industry to harmonize its activities with development targets set by governments.

62. The Council agreed with the changes introduced in Language Training and, in this connection, felt that the Organization should encourage the participation of those candidates taking language tests whose mother tongue was other than English, French or Spanish. On the other matters reviewed, the Council noted the comments and suggestions of the Programme Committee, with which it agreed.

Joint FAO/IAEA Programme2

63. The Council endorsed the review and recommendations of the Programme Committee. 3 It welcomed the collaboration between the two organizations and reaffirmed the desirability of the establishment of the Joint FAO/IAEA Division.

64. While the Council noted that good results had been obtained, it pointed out the need to consider the relative merits of nuclear as compared to conventional techniques, according to the conditions existing in each country.

65. Recognizing that different views had been expressed concerning this programme, and further recognizing that the two parent organizations had different objectives, the Council recommended that an outside review, the conclusions of which should be submitted to the Programme Committee and the Council, be made by a small group of experts. This group should consist not only of experts in atomic energy, but also of experts and agricultural administrators familiar with traditional as well as isotope and radiation applications in food and agriculture. It was suggested that the two organizations share the cost of this review equitably. The Council was informed that the Directors-General of FAO and IAEA had agreed in principle on the need for such a review.

66. Some members stated that, pending the conclusions of the review, low priority be assigned to the joint programme within the FAO programme of work.

Review of Extra-budgetary Activities4

67. The Council recalled that, in the report of its Fifty-Sixth Session 5, it had “expressed its concern that the governing bodies did not have adequate opportunity within the present review arrangements of Council and Conference to acquaint themselves sufficiently with the extra-budgetary activities, to discuss them and to give guidance whenever required”. Similarly, the Programme Committee at its Twenty-Second Session 6 had recommended “that special importance should be given to field programmes on a regular basis on the agendas of the Programme and Finance Committees, Council and Conference, as well as of COFO, COFI, COAG, and Regional Conferences, and should be the subject of thorough discussion by these bodies.”

1 See paras. 317–320 below.
2 CL 59/16, CL 59/22, CL 59/PV/8 and CL 59/PV/20
3 CL 59/22 paras.89–97
4 CL 59/3, CL 59/25, CL 59/25-Add.1, CL 59/25-Add.2, CL 71/REP para. 137, CL 59/PV/10 and CL 59/PV/20
5 CL 56/REP para. 232
6 CL 59/22, para. 21

68. The Council agreed that financial repercussions, impact on the Regular Programme and the quality of work, of extra-budgetary activities were factors which should be analysed by the governing bodies.

69. The Council further agreed that, especially in view of the magnitude of the expenditure on field programmes, appropriate action should be taken to ensure that these programmes were discussed from a functional point of view by the Programme and Finance Committees, from a technical point of view by the technical Committees on Forestry, Fisheries and Agriculture, and from a regional point of view by the Regional Conferences. The findings of all these bodies could be submitted to the subsequent session of the Council which would then be in a position to make overall recommendations to the Conference.

70. It was pointed out that two of the three technical Committees would not be meetings before early 1974 and that they could begin their work only at that point in time.

71. The Programme Committee had recommended that the Work of FAO, to be prepared for the 1973 Conference, should not cover the Regular Programme but only extra-budgetary activities. A comprehensive analytical document would therefore be available as a basis for these discussions at the Conference, which would thus be in a position to offer guidance regarding the documentation needed by each of the three groups of bodies involved in the cycle. The Council requested that a paper be presented by the Director-General to the Programme and Finance Committees at their spring session in 1973 outling the scope and nature of the information to be provided in The Work of FAO for the 1973 Conference. The Council felt that The Work of FAO should include, among other things, information on the negative as well as the positive impact of extra-budgetary work on Regular Programme activities. Information should also be provided on pre-investment activities undertaken by FAO which resulted in follow-up investment, as well as information on project formulation and execution and counterpart problems.

72. The Council noted the information on UNDP Project Execution submitted with documentation on extra-budgetary activities.

FAO Policy on Publication of Periodicals, Including CERES1

73. At its Sixteenth Session (1971) the Conference had “requested the Council and its Programme Committee in 1972 to review the Organization's policy concerning the publication of periodicals, taking into consideration .... all relevant factors such as the purpose, readership, periodicity and cost of the various periodicals issued” 2.

74. The Council had before it the reports on this matter by the Programme and Finance Committees 3, together with a note by the Director-General outlining the action he proposed to take in the light of these reports 4.

1 CL 59/PV/13 and CL 59/PV/20
2 CL 71/REP, para. 243
3 CL 59/22, paras 98–111, and paras 195–197
4 CL 59/31

75. With regard to the 34 FAO periodicals and annuals, both priced and unpriced, the Programme Committee had emphasized:

  1. the need for a consistent periodicals policy, and that the number, content and characteristics of these periodicals should be rationalized in the light of this policy;

  2. the need to consider how many periodicals the Organization could adequately support;

  3. the content should be determined considering the readership to whom the periodical or annual was addressed;

  4. the Organization must maintain the principle of parity of its working languages;

  5. each government should receive its entitlement on the basis of the established quota distribution.

The Council was in agreement with these five points.

76. At its Fifty-Fifth Session (1970) the Council had adopted policy guidelines for publications and documents, which laid down that all material (priced publications and main and working documents) issued by FAO or with FAO's assistance should bear a direct-and specific relation to the projects and activities in the approved Programme of Work. The Council confirmed that this policy was equally applicable to FAO's periodicals and annual publications and documents.

77. The Council noted that it was especially through its statistical and technical periodical publications that the Organization achieved the purposes set out in Article I of the FAO Constitution and agreed that any plan for a radical reduction in the number of these publications should be approached with caution. On the other hand the Council recognized that it was necessary to look carefully at the number of periodicals and recurrent publications the Organization could adequately support. It therefore concurred with the Director-General's proposal to undertake a wide-ranging survey of the readership and other relevant factors concerning these periodicals, so as to obtain an objective and comprehensive view of their utility. The readership survey would, of course, include government recipients, and take into account the specific observations and suggestions made by Council members in the course of the debate. The outcome of this survey would be placed before the Council prior to the Seventeenth Session of the Conference, together with relevant recommendations.

78. In the light of the readership survey and any abolitions or mergers that might result, the Director-General would consider the feasibility of converting any remaining unpriced periodicals into priced publications.

79. The Council agreed with the decision to cease publishing the quarterly World Fisheries Abstracts and the annual Coconut Situation.

80. While it was generally felt that Unasylva was a useful periodical that should continue to be published, the Council agreed to postpone a final decision until the overall periodicals policy had been determined. In the meantime the Council concurred in the issue of one “bridging” issue of Unasylva in each year of the present biennium.

81. In so far as the present system of programming and budgeting for publications and documents might hinder the consistent application of the policy guidelines, the Council considered that suitably objective controls were essential to select what would be issued and to ensure a balanced publications list. The Council agreed that all publications proposed in the Programme of Work and all periodicals that were to be retained should be identified with specific subprogrammes and the corresponding funds used for the purposes for which they were provided.

82. As regards the strengthening of editorial support both in the originating units and in the Publications Division recommended by the Programme Committee, the Council noted that the Director-General had this matter under study and would report his findings thereon to the Council in 1973.

83. The Council recognized that the distribution within Member Nations of FAO material so as to ensure adequate diffusion to all sectors to which the material could be useful -institutions and services, including libraries, universities, research institutes and scientific, agricultural extension and training services, economic and legislative bodies - was primarily the responsibility of the governments themselves, through National FAO Committees or other channels decided by the governments. It recommended to Member Governments that this important aspect be given attention so as to maximize the value of FAO publications, which it recognized were generally of a high standard and an important means of achieving the Organization's purposes. On its part, the Organization should also make further efforts to ensure adequate diffusion of its publications, through its sales agents, field staff, and with national institutes, specialists and technicians.

84. Subject to the overall review of publications policy which the Director-General was putting in hand, the Council supported Ceres, the FAO Review, and welcomed its success and impact as a journal providing original articles on the broad issues of rural development and a useful forum for the exchange of opinions on this subject. It recognized that the present orientation and editorial policy were in line with the original mandate of the FAO Review. It was generally agreed that the editorial content of Ceres should continue to serve FAO's development objectives, without however becoming in any way a house organ. It was also suggested that special issues should cover regions and subregions of the world that had received little attention so far, dealing with differing economic and social systems.

85. As regards the periodicity of Ceres, the Council noted that, while reduction of the frequency of publication from six issues per annum to four would result in a biennial economy of about $90 000, on the other hand this would result in a loss of revenue of an estimated $100 000. The Council supported the continuation of the same frequency of issues as at present.

86. Concern was expressed at the level of cost of Ceres. However the Council noted that economy measures already introduced by the Director-General would reduce the Regular Programme expenditure for Ceres from $677 000 to $622 000 in 1972–73 while absorbing the rising costs. The Council hoped that the Director-General would be able to achieve further savings by other means, such as greater reliance on contractual services for editing, illustrating and layout work.

87. The Council expressed the hope that means might be found to publish and distribute to governments and other interested bodies at regular intervals a publication in which the informed inquirer could readily find out what FAO was doing in its various fields of action, on the lines of the monthly WHO or Unesco Chronicles, the OECD Observer or the UNCTAD Monthly Bulletin. The Director-General agreed to study the feasibility and financial implications and report on this matter to the Council at a later session.


Report of the First Session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG)1

88. The Report of the First Session of the Committee on Agriculture (Rome, April 1972) was presented by the First Vice-Chairman of the Committee, on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee. The Council endorsed the Report and expressed its satisfaction with the work of COAG, which was established by the FAO Conference in 1971. The experience of the session had shown the need for a committee to assist the Council in performing its functions relating to the important agricultural sector.

89. The Council noted that the items on the agenda reflected the three principal tasks assigned to the new Committee on Agriculture: first, the periodic review and appraisal, on a highly selective basis, of specific agricultural development problems; second, advice, to the Council, on the medium- and longer-term programme of work of the Organization in selected fields of agriculture and on its implementation; third, the review of specific matters referred to COAG by the Conference, the Council or the Director-General.

90. The Council noted the matters requiring its attention which were summarized in documents CL 59/9 and CL 59/9 Sup. 1.

91. The Council endorsed the recommendation of COAG that FAO should concentrate on development of the seed industry in order to speed up effective development of variety trials, seed production, seed quality control and seed distribution in the light of existing bilateral and multilateral programmes. Priority should be given to seed activities in FAO's Medium Term Plan and re-allocation of resources was required to strengthen work on seed industry development, including improved training on seed technology. The Council stressed the desirability of harnessing the resources and expertise of national and international private enterprise.

1 CL 59/9, CL 59/9-Sup. 1, CL 59/PV/3 and CL 59/PV/20

92. The Council recognized the importance of developing food and nutrition policies and urged that priority be given to this subject both at national level and within the activities of FAO. It endorsed COAG's recommendation that the resources of the Nutrition Division required redeployment for this purpose.

93. The Council endorsed the attention given by COAG to the problems of improving productivity in less favourable environments and to possible lines of action. While agreeing with the need for building up an information system and framework for analysis in each of the less favourable environments (e.g. low rainfall areas, humid tropics, savannah areas with adverse rainfall distribution, and mountainous regions), the Council endorsed COAG's recommendation that FAO should begin with a study on one particular type of less favourable environment namely the semi-arid and low rainfall areas, and report back to the Committee at its next session. This study should serve as a model for the study of other regions in subsequent stages. The Council emphasized that demographic and social factors would need to be taken into account as well as the need for the improvement of rural structures. Priority should be given to the 25 least developed countries with particular urgent and serious problems in this respect.

94. The Council agreed with COAG on the fundamental importance of agrarian reform as an essential tool for rural development. It endorsed the recommendation for keeping the subject under review by continued and wider discussion of the report of the FAO Special Committee on Agrarian Reform and on the continuing need for integrated and comprehensive action at n national level. The Council recognized the high priority of agrarian reform which involved a wide range of technical, economic, social and legal aspects with emphasis on the establishment of viable units and related programmes such as marketing, credit and other services. The Council noted the recommendation of COAG for the inclusion of agrarian reform as a sub substantive policy item on the agenda of its next session. Some members indicated that they would have preferred the establishment of a Sub-Committee on Agrarian Reform.

95. The Council, recognizing the importance of the subject of PSWAD/Agricultural Adjustment, agreed that COAG would concentrate on the changes in the structure of production which were a fundamental part of the process of development and adjustment, rather than on its bearing on trade which fell under the responsibility of CCP.

96. The Council endorsed COAG's recommendation that FAO should encourage agricultural research and stimulate coordination and cooperation in research activities at national, regional and international levels. Communications would need to be improved to ensure that farmers could utilize the results of this research.

97. With regard to the FAO Medium-Term Plan, the Council noted that, because of the complex nature of the problem, harmonization of the many different points of view in COAG was not possible at the First Session. The Council therefore endorsed COAG's recommendations that continued careful attention be given to the question of priorities within major lines of work. Some members emphasized the need for a financial framework for the programme of work to be undertaken within the medium-term plan period.

98. The Council accepted COAG's suggestions that in preparing for its next session the Director-General should (a) endeavour to keep COAG abreast of major scientific and technological advances; (b) use the assistance of outstanding world authorities as consultants for the analysis of selected aspects of agricultural development; (c) specify in the documents the action expected of COAG with respect to the development problems selected for consideration and, (d) facilitate the technical dialogue on, and critical assessment of the substantive work of FAO during sessions of COAG. The recommendations and priorities arising from the series of regional conferences should also be taken into account when preparing the COAG Agenda.

99. Noting the views expressed by some members that COAG should deal primarily with technical questions rather than with policy issues, the Council re-emphasized the need for a fully i inter-disciplinary consideration of all relevant technical, economic, social, institutional and structural aspects of a given problem related to agricultural and rural development. The Council also re-confirmed the Conference decision that the terms of reference of COAG should only mention medium and long term programmes and exclude the review of short term activities.

100. As to the frequency of sessions, the Council agreed that COAG should continue to hold one session each biennium, preferably early in non-conference years, possibly longer than one week.

101. The Council agreed that, in accordance with the rules of procedure of COAG, the provisional agenda of the next session should be prepared by the Director-General in consultation with the Chairman of the Committee, in time for approval by the June 1973 session of the Council. As regards the agenda one member suggested an item on the effects of agricultural adjustment at the farm level and another suggested an item on fertilizer, including aspects of application and production and trade.

102. The Council stressed that members of COAG should as far as possible be represented by delegations consisting of senior officers technically qualified to contribute effectively to a multi-disciplinary consideration of the subjects on the agenda.

Study on Measures to Strengthen FAO's Structure in the Field of Rural Development, Particularly Agrarian Reform1

103. With respect to paragraph 7 of Resolution 3/71 adopted by the Sixteenth Session of the Conference, the Council took note of the streamlining of FAO's activities in the field of human resources and institutions by the setting up of a special division, the Human Resources and institutions Division, encompassing all FAO's general programmes in human resources development, i.e. the activities and policies that were primarily oriented towards people and people's institutions. This was seen as a measure by the Director-General to reorientate FAO's policies and method of work in this direction. The Council approved this new concept which underlined that development was not basically a technical problem, but involved also a change in social structures having political aspects. FAO's role in these important fields was stressed and the hope was expressed that the new orientation of the division responsible would imply a greater involvement by FAO in matters hitherto considered rather marginal to its work.

104. The Council welcomed the emphasis on integrated rural development with agrarian reform as an important element, because most developing countries had only two fundamental resources, land and people. It was pointed out that integrated rural development implied an interdisciplinary approach and that emphasis on agricultural growth and productivity had to be supplemented by concern with employment, a problem which was becoming acute and in some cases explosive. Moreover since agriculture was a system problem, integrated rural development required that the institutional aspects should be given a central focus. For these reasons this general concept must be clearly defined and, as a consequence thereof, FAO might need to carry out a re-orientation of its organization and present methods of work.

105. Emphasis was also placed by the Council on the need to link integrated rural development with the new country focus approach being adopted by FAO. The direct involvement of the countries concerned in any perspective studies was considered essential to avoid the risk of preparing theoretical models remote from the realities in the countries concerned. It was felt, however, that in relation to this aspect the concept of rural development and its implications also needed further elaboration and clarification, and programmes and approaches should be adapted to the special needs and conditions in individual countries. Note was taken that this concept had been dealt with already by FAO in the Indicative World Plan and in various Symposia and Ad Hoc Working Groups covering specific regions, but it was recognized that a good deal more remained to be done by the Human Resources and Institutions Division.

106. While the Council appreciated the measures so far implemented by the Director-General which were regarded as a significant step forward, some members felt that further strengthening of the structure of the Organization in the rural development field and particularly with regard to agrarian reform, was desirable. The Council agreed to recommend to the Director-General in the preparation of his 1974–75 Programme of Work and Budget to allocate the greatest resources possible to the Mobilization and Development of Human Resources and related fields, to enable FAO to give a better service to member countries.

1 CL 59/25, CL 59/PV/17, CL 59/PV/18 and CL 59/PV/20

107. Some members expressed regret that the First Session of COAG was not able to agree on the setting up of a permanent sub-committee on agrarian reform and felt that the Council itself should set up such a body. Other expressed the opinion that integrated rural development including agrarian reform was one of the basic terms of reference of COAG. The Council agreed that its next Session should consider the need for further action in connection with agrarian reform in the light of the Director-General's relevant proposals in the 1974–75 Programme of Work and Budget, and the means available for action in these fields.

Agricultural Research1

108. The Vice-Chairman of the Programme Committee informed the Council that the Committee recommended support to the Director-General's proposal to establish a Research Development Centre in the Development Department. The Committee felt that encouraging progress had been made by FAO in following up Conference Resolution 9/71, and that the establishment of this Centre would further the objectives of harmonizing research activities at the national, regional and international level, and in mobilising resources in support of research as requested by the Conference. However, FAO itself should not get involved in the conduct of research except perhaps in the socio-economic field.

109. He stressed that even though the establishment of the Consultative Group would lead to increased funding for research, this would still not be large in world terms. There was therefore a need not only to identify the priorities more sharply but to maintain flexibility through monitoring support for programmes, phasing out support for completed or unpromising activities and shifting to new lines.

110. The Council recognized that the Director-General had implemented the Conference Resolution and agreed with his decision to concentrate secretariat resources into the proposed Research Development Centre. Recognizing that research was a crucial and integral component of the development process, it particularly welcomed the location of this Centre in the Development Department.

111. Strong support was also expressed for the objectives of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research and the role of FAO in helping to establish it and in providing the Secretariat to its Technical Advisory Committee. Several members expressed satisfaction at the contribution being made to agricultural progress in the developing countries by the work of the International Research centres being financed by the Consultative Group. The decisions to establish new centres to work on potatoes and on problems of the semi-arid tropics were welcomed. The latter helped to fill a particularly important gap, although the Council noted that research on water use in agriculture was another important gap still to be filled. Representatives of African countries urged that, as a next step, attention be directed to strengthening research on animal production and health, and it was suggested that in addition to East Coast Fever and Trypanosomiasis, Foot-and-Mouth Disease should be given urgent attention as a constraint on livestock production and exports.

112. The Council stressed the importance of helping countries to build national research capabilities, and requested FAO to emphasize support to national research activities in its work programme. In this context it was informed that this had always been the main objective of FAO's efforts in relation to research and would continue to be given high priority. Document-CL 59/30 gave some prominence to international activities in research because it was intended to describe developments in this field since the last Conference, but this did not reflect any change in policy vis-à-vis FAO's commitment to assisting national efforts. The wish of the Programme Committee and of the Council to have a published report on FAO's activities related to research had been noted by the Director-General.

113. The Council expressed concern at the gap between knowledge and its application, particularly by the small farmers, and urged FAO to place more emphasis on studying the reasons for this and on means of linking research to development in a way which would lead to the immediate implementation of new technology. This would require socio-economic research, which was also needed to avoid problems following on the implementation of new technology including its impact on employment and income distribution.

1 CL 59/22, CL 59/30, CL 59/PV/18 and CL 59/PV/20

114. It was pointed out that socio-economic research undertaken in relation to isolated co commodities or technologies might have little utility because of inter-relationships as well as being wasteful of resources. There were still important technical research problems both in relation to crops such as wheat, maize, rice for which the spread of the Green Revolution was still too limited, and to some other important and more neglected foods, especially grain legumes, millets, tubers and vegetables. The Council also stressed the Regional Conferences' proposals for more research on problems of rainfed agriculture.

115. The Council recognized the difficulties and possible conflicts involved in trying to determine priorities for research, whether at the national, regional or international level. National research activities should be closely aligned to development policies, while internationally supported programmes should correspond to national or regional needs. FAO should play an active role in helping to develop a long-term perspective of priorities for international or regional research, in promotion of cooperative action in support of these needs, and in mobilizing resources for implementation in a manner that would ensure most effective use of scarce resources, including those of existing institutions.

116. The Council emphasized the need for improved information on current research activities and research establishments in developing countries as a means of avoiding unnecessary duplication, strengthening scientific linkages, and determining skilled manpower requirements for identified priority fields of research. It therefore welcomed FAO's initiation of the CARIS pilot project while witholding judgment on the wider CARIS proposal pending the evaluation of the results and costs of the pilot effort. FAO was also urged to undertake a review of training requirements as part of the programme of the new Research Development Centre, in order to assist developing countries to build up their national research cadres.

117. Considerable support was expressed for the proposal for an international network of plant genetic resources centres. This was considered a task of great importance. The suggestion was made that the coordinating centre of the international network should be attached to FAO, and that a provision for this purpose should accordingly be made in the Programme of Work and Budget.

118. Clarification was sought concerning representation of the developing countries on the Consultative Group, and whether this was adequate to reflect the widely varying ecological and social conditions within each developing region. It was recalled that the Fifty-Eighth Council Session had nominated two representatives to attend Consultative Group meetings for each region, in order to ensure representation in accordance with the diversity of ecological zones.

119. The Council was informed that the Consultative Group was an informal body, and that an arrangement had been arrived at which seemed to work satisfactorily in practice, whereby two representatives from each developing region could attend its meetings. These could rotate as spokesmen for their region without prejudice to the possibility of the second acting as alternate on a topic on which he had special knowledge or interest. Other opportunities for participation of developing countries in the Group's activities lay in membership of the Technical Advisory Committee, and as members of specialized sub-committees or evaluation missions related to its work.

120. The Council agreed that in view of this explanation there was no need to alter the position on representation taken at its Fifty-Eighth Session.

Fisheries: Report of the Seventh Session of the Committee on Fisheries, Including a Review of the Functions of COFI1

121. The Report of the Seventh Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) was presented by the Assistant Director-General (Fisheries) on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee who was unable to be present.

122. The Council endorsed the Report and expressed its satisfaction at the way COFI, now open to all Member Nations of FAO, continued to discharge its responsibilities in reviewing fishery problems with a view to their solution, in addition to providing valuable guidance in the formulation and implementation of FAO's programme of work in the field of fisheries.

123. The Council considered the three matters to which COFI had drawn its attention and decided on them as follows:

  1. it approved membership of the U.S.S.R. in the COFI Sub-Committee on the Development of Cooperation with International Organizations concerned with Fisheries;

  2. it authorized the Director-General to convene a Technical Conference on Fishery Management and Development as proposed in paragraphs 38 to 42 of the Report. It expressed its appreciation to the Government of Canada which had offered to host the Conference in Vancouver from 13 to 23 February 1973, as well as to bear the costs involved, including assistance for the attendance of fishery experts from developing countries. It noted that some other countries had also indicated their willingness to facilitate participation by such experts from developing countries. It agreed that such a Conference would be timely and could make a substantial contribution to the spreading of knowledge and experience in fishery management and development which would benefit especially the developing countries, and which would assist all countries in making optimum use of the valuable living resources of the oceans and inland waters.

  3. it authorized the Director-General to make the necessary arrangements for the participation of the International Commission for the Southeast Atlantic Fisheries (ICSEAF) in the work of the Coordinating Working Party on Atlantic Fishery Statistics (CWP).

124. The Council also discussed a number of other subjects arising from the Report of the Seventh Session of COFI on which, it felt, it might guide COFI in further consideration of them.

125. The Council noted the recommendation of the Sixteenth Session of the Conference that COFI review its ability to undertake all the responsibilities it was likely to be called upon to discharge, including those that might arise from the UN Conference on the Human Environment and the forthcoming UN Conference on the Law of the Sea. It noted the varying points of view expressed by COFI at its Seventh Session and its decision to refer the matter to its Sub-Committee on the Development of Cooperation with International Organizations concerned with Fisheries. The Council felt that as COFI had only recently been opened to membership by all interested member nations of FAO, for a trial period of four years, no changes in its basic structure and status should be made before the end of this period.

126. The Council expressed satisfaction at the manner in which COFI had reviewed the Medium-Term Plan regarding the fisheries sector. While appreciating the difficulties of obtaining absolute agreement in one order of priorities, it felt that the approach adopted by COFI, of considering relative priorities as between sub-programmes as a whole, led to appropriate and useful guidance for the Director-General. It endorsed COFI's view that the management and development of fisheries, with the underlying aim of assisting developing countries, should be the paramount objectives of FAO in the field of fisheries. Several members indicated the particular importance they attached to work on fishery statistics, aquatic surveys and evaluation, development of aquaculture and inland fisheries, the improvement of the aquatic environment and the control of aquatic pollution. They also emphasized the importance of FAO's collaboration with the International Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) regarding aquatic pollution and recognized FAO's responsibility as regards the effects of pollution on fishery resources.

1 CL 59/13, CL 59/PV/4 and CL 59/PV/20

127. The Council noted with interest the continued expansion of FAO field activities in fisheries. It was pleased to know that field projects were subjected to timely appraisal with a view to ensuring the relevance of the activities and speedy follow-up in the way of investment for increased fish production and utilization. It felt that it would be appropriate for COFI to consider at its next session, the impact of field activities on the general programme of the department.

128. The Council expressed satisfaction with the support extended by COFI and the Department of Fisheries to the Sea-Bed Committee in preparation for the UN Conference on the Law of the Sea. It urged that such support be continued with the high degree of scientific and technical competence and objectivity that had characterized it so far.


Report of the First Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO)1

129. The Report of the First Session of the Committee on Forestry (Rome, May 1972) was presented by the Chairman of the Committee. The Council endorsed the Report and noted that COFO was effectively discharging the responsibilities which the Council had conferred upon it.

130. The Council noted the emphasis put by COFO on the fact that forest production and protection of the environment were not incompatible, but complementary, and stressed that the role of forestry in socio-economic development and in the conservation of environmental quality must be given equal consideration in every forest policy decision. The Council was well aware of the increased responsibilities that the conclusions of the UN Conference on the Human Environment implied for FAO and of the important share that the forestry sector would have in fulfilling these new responsibilities, but it considered that the implementation of the Action Plan approved by the UN Conference should not necessarily involve any internal restructuring or the creation of new units in FAO, as the present organizational framework was well adapted to the inclusion of additional responsibilities.

131. The Council welcomed the attention devoted by COFO to problems of forest industries and trade development, as being a reflection of the Forestry Department's growing concern with this field. It emphasized that the establishment and development of forest-based industries in developing countries and trade in forest products were among the most promising avenues for increasing the earning and saving of foreign exchange, and should therefore occupy a prominent place in the Forestry Department's programme of work. It was important that Forest Industries should be kept as a separate sub-programme.

132. The Council considered that it should not-be FAO's responsibility to carry out forestry research. Its role should be to identify research priorities, disseminate research results and ensure feedback to scientists on research problems. In this connexion some members referred to the role that might be played by regional offices and senior agricultural advisers in disseminating research information. Attention was drawn to the complicated and delicate problems raised by the organization of research, given the complex motivation systems under which research operated and the effect that the institutional framework could have on the efficiency of research work. It was felt that the Forestry Department had an important role to play in this field and that it should devote more attention to the problem of the institutional organization of forestry research.

133. The Council strongly supported COFO's recommendation that the membership of the Technical Advisory Committee of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, at present composed exclusively of agricultural scientists, should be strengthened by the addition of one or two foresters, possibly on an ad hoc basis.

1 CL 59/10, CL 59/10-Corr.1, CL 5 /PV/4 and CL 59/PV/20

134. The Council agreed with the recommendations on research priorities made by COFO. However, further suggestions were made by some members for research on: reclamation by forests of water-logged and saline soils and utilization of marginal lands; and use of little-known tropical species.

135. The Council endorsed the broad areas of priority identified by COFO, but laid special emphasis on the importance of strengthening forestry institutions. Many members identified within this broad field the problem of strengthening national forest services, and forestry education and extension. Mention was also made of the need for the Department to continue paying attention to problems of afforestation and tree plantation, including the production of fuel.

136. While recognizing that, in accordance with the terms of reference laid down by the Conference, one main responsibility of COFO was to provide advice on the Forestry Department's programme of work, the Council felt that consideration of the Medium-Term Programme should not be allowed to take up an undue proportion of COFO's time. The Committee was also extremely important in providing an opportunity for seminar-like discussions on forestry problems from the techno-economic point of view and the analysis of their policy implications. The following possible themes for such discussions were suggested: mechanization of forestry operations, silvicultural treatments for environmental purposes, evaluation of indirect forest benefits, and control of pollution from pulp and paper industries.

137. The Council agreed with COFO's intention to postpone discussion and final decision on its Rules of Procedure to its Second Session, after some experience had been gained in the working of the Committee and the considered views of the Committee members had been transmitted to the Director-General. In this connexion attention was drawn to the advisability of devising methods of work calculated to draw the maximum benefit from technical discussions taking place between countries at different levels of technological development.

138. The attention of the Council was drawn to the importance of forestry projects carried out within the framework of the World Food Programme; the Council requested FAO to devote increased attention to the technical evaluation of these projects and to provide them with a high level of technical back-stopping.

Seventh World Forestry Congress(Buenos Aires, October 1972) 1

139. The President of the Seventh World Forestry Congress reported to the Council on the main features of the Congress which had been attended by 2 200 participants from 87 countries, members of the United Nations, and had examined a total of over 450 documents. Many Ministers, most Heads of Forest Services, and Heads of Forest Development Institutes participated.

140. The Council noted that fellowship grants had been made by the Governments of Argentina and Sweden, which had enabled participants from 32 developing countries to attend the Congress, and expressed its appreciation to those Governments.

141. The Council agreed with the request made by the Congress that the Committee on Forestry (COFO) at its next session discuss the principles, scope and procedure of the next World Forestry Congress, the results of this discussion to be transmitted to the FAO Council for consideration and transmission, as appropriate, to the host country for use in planning the Eighth Congress. After the experience gained at previous Congresses, it was understood that a permanent feature of the Congress should be discussions at the technical level, followed by examination, through the established formula of panel discussions, of forest policy issues, either on a world-wide or on a regional basis, according to the geographical location of the Congress.

1 CL 59/23 and CL 59/PV/4

142. The Council, taking into account the fact that participation in World Forestry Congresses was open to all members of the United Nations, authorized the Director-General to invite, upon request, Member States of the United Nations that were not Member Nations of FAO to participate in an observer capacity at the next session of COFO, and furthermore authorized the inclusion of such States in the membership of any subsidiary body that might be established by COFO to consider the principles, scope and procedures of the next World Forestry Congress.

143. The Council noted the special relevance of the formal Declaration of the Seventh World Forestry Congress to human environment problems and stressed its importance coming as it did just after the UN Conference on the Human Environment. The Declaration provided the world-based authoritative view of a socio-economic sector that bore such great responsibilities for the conservation and rational use of natural resources. The Council was encouraged by the optimistic conclusion of the Declaration, in which the foresters of the world expressed themselves fully confident that an ever-increasing flow of good and services from the forest could be achieved while not only maintaining, but enhancing environmental quality. The Council requested the Director-General to bring the Declaration of the Seventh World Forestry Congress 1 to the attention of the Secretary-General of the United Nations

144. The Council took note of the conclusions of the Congress of interest to FAO and recommended that the Director-General take them into consideration in preparing FAO's Programme of Work in the forestry sector for the next biennium.

145. The Council noted that an official offer to host the Eighth World Forestry Congress had been made by the Government of Austria. The delegate of Indonesia informed the Council that his country was also prepared to host the Eight Congress. The Council expressed its appreciation of these offers, and transmitted them to the Director-General for consideration once the procedure for the selection of the host country for the Eight Congress was initiated.

146. The Council noted the assistance provided by FAO in the preparation and running of the Congress, and the financial assistance of the host country. The assistance had been provided in accordance with the philosophy established for the Congress, under which the organization of the Congress was and remained the sole responsibility of the host country which might, however, draw on the experience of FAO as it considered necessary in connexion with the preparation of the Congress Programme and the conduct of its sessions.

147. Finally, the Council expressed its thanks to the Government of Argentina for hosting the Seventh Congress, and congratulated the Government of Argentina and the President of the Congress on the very efficient organization of this important forestry assembly.

Nutrition: Report of the Ad Hoc Committee on Increasing the Production and Use of Edible Proteins2

148. The report of the Ad Hoc Committee was presented to the Council by its Chairman. The Council endorsed the report as presented including the recommendations for action addressed to Member Governments and to FAO appended to Conference Resolution 7/71.

149. The Council recognized that this was the first session of the Committee, that its terms of reference were not clear, that its debate on the subject was limited to one day and that its future role and composition should be better defined. The Council decided that the Ad Hoc Committee's report should be referred to the next session of the Conference, together with its comments, and that the Conference be requested to decide upon the future role and composition of the Committee. In this respect the question was raised as to the need to have specialists or generalists represent governments on the Committee. The Council also noted the resolution passed by the Latin American Regional Conference that the role of the Ad Hoc Committee be broadened to cover food and nutrition policies and programmes rather than to confine itself to the protein problem and that its title be adapted to its function.

1 See Appendix E
2 CL 59/24, CL 59/PV/17 and CL 59/PV/20

150. It was proposed that the Programme Committee and the Council should give careful consideration to this field of activity when reviewing the Director-General's proposals for the Organization's future programme of work.

151. The Council approved the emphasis placed in the report upon the development of national food policies for inclusion in plans for agricultural and socio-economic development and approved FAO's programme for assisting governments to this end. However it was stressed that, during the development of such policies, nutrition improvement programmes, including feeding projects for vulnerable groups jointly assisted by FAO and WFP, should receive the maximum possible support.

152. The importance of education of the general public in nutrition was recognized. The means to reach different population groups would vary with different levels of literacy and considerable flexibility should be applied in attaining this objective.

Role and Functions of the Regional Offices and Country Offices, and their Relation to the Role and Functions of Headquarters1

153. The Council heard a statement by the Director-General, who referred to the documentation on the subject which was before the Council: the report of the special consultant, the Regional Conference recommendations, the reports of the Programme and Finance Committee deliberations 2, and CL 59/LIM/6 containing a new proposal for discussion by the Council.

154. This proposal was based on the fundamental principle of an integrated programming for FAO as a whole. The two sets of activities, for Headquarters and for the Regional Offices, should be unified under the concept of a single programme. The technical resources available at HQ should be harnessed more directly than in the past to the needs and problems of the individual regions - and the resources of the regional offices should be coupled more effectively with those available at Headquarters. Under such a concept of a single programme all activities in a given region, whether planned by Headquarters or by the regional office, would be programmed together into one organic whole. It was suggested that the Director-General should initiate immediately such joint planning by the regional offices and Headquarters of the future activities in the regions. In this connexion, the activities and resources of other international, bilateral, and UN agencies should be taken into consideration in such joint planning.

155. The problem of timing of the preparation of the Programme of Work and Budget was here referred to, in that the contents of the joint programme should be based on a synthesis of the decisions and recommendations of the FAO Governing Bodies, including the Conference and Council, the sectoral committees and the Regional Conferences. To achieve a blending of programme recommendations from the sectoral committees and the Regional Conferences into a single organization-wide programme, and to enable the regional offices to perform the function of synthesizing the regional characteristics as an input to the joint programming, a new arrangement might be needed for the biennial programme and budget presentation.

156. The principle of an integrated programme for FAO as a whole would introduce a considerable element of flexibility into the Organization's activities. In respect of each activity it could then be decided on the grounds of general effectiveness whether it should be carried out from Headquarters, from a regional office, or from both jointly. Staff could be moved between Headquarters and the regions as required by the individual programme activities.

157. As a corollary, the proposal before the Council also included the establishment in each regional office (except the European one) of a small policy and planning group, similar to those established in the technical departments and divisions at Headquarters. The links between the regional offices and the country representatives would be strengthened.

1 CL 59/PV/7, CL 59/PV/8 and CL 59/PV/20
2 CL 59/12, CL 59/14, CL 59/7 and CL 59/22 respectively

158. The view was expressed that the European Region was not being allocated its proper share of activity under the Regular Programme, and that the status and functions including the policy and planning ones, of the Regional Office for Europe should not be lower than that of other regional offices and that the level of the Regional Representative for Europe should be the same as that of the other regional representatives. It noted the Director-General's statement that he had made no special cut in the present European programme, and that he did take account of Europe, as well as other parts of the world in programming.

159. In the Council discussion, the proposal found unanimous agreement in its fundamental outline and for a successful implementation it was generally felt that it would be necessary to establish precisely and clearly the basic functions for which Headquarters, the regional offices, and the country offices were to be responsible, and to delineate the relationships between and the structure of the three tiers accordingly. The Council gave general support to the observations of the Programme Committee regarding the responsibilities of the respective sectors of FAO. It was pointed out, that conditions from region to region varied and that differences existed between the needs and requirements of FAO as distinct from those of other organizations; a flexible attitude with respect to each individual region within the overall structure would thus be called for.

160. The Council further felt that there was need for a strong official FAO representation in the developing Member Nations, to ensure a clearly country-oriented focus in all stages of planning and programme execution. In general, the FAO Country Representative should assist the Government in the whole area of agricultural development; he should be an effective link between FAO and the Government, with which he was expected to maintain the closest contacts. The Council recommended that, specifically, the country representative would act as the policy representative of the Organization, give assistance to the government in its country programming and in country perspective studies and plans, at its request, and undertake general supervision of and report on project execution, without, however, interfering in the day-to-day operation and execution of the projects. In this connexion, stress was put on the need to select FAO representatives of a high calibre and the right personality. Some doubts were expressed about the way in which the agreement with UNDP was being executed and the Council emphasized that the senior agricultural adviser should be clearly recognised as the FAO representative in the country concerned. The Council noted that a special consultant had been jointly appointed by the two organizations to review the UNDP/FAO agreement. Many members felt that the number of FAO Country Representatives should be further increased.

161. The Council felt that the basic functions of the regional offices would be to assist Member Nations in the regions in harmonizing policy differences of a general nature relating to food and agriculture in the regions, by creating an atmosphere favourable to the development of cooperation among the countries of the region; to cooperate with the Regional Economic Commissions, and other regional and sub-regional bodies in the region dealing with development matters; to participate, where necessary, in the preparation and execution of regional and sub-regional programmes and projects; to aid regional groups of countries to identify their needs for technical assistance; and to provide services for the essential statutory bodies in the regions. In this connection special support was given by the Council to the Director-General's proposal for the establishment of policy and planning groups in the regional offices. Strong support was given to the foreseen greater influence in the region upon the planning and programming of regional activities, and many members wished to see a clearer identification of all regionally-related activities in the Programme of Work and Budget presentation. Some members warned against further expanding the regional offices before the current FAO/UNDP review on the financing of senior Agricultural Advisers/Country Representatives had been concluded, and examined by the Council. Some members also requested that the strengthening of regional offices be done by transfering Headquarters staff rather than by new recruitment.

162. Bearing in mind the foregoing views on country representatives and regional offices the Council reiterated the need to maintain at Headquarters a central policy formulation and direction, as provided for in the FAO Constitution, and a high level of technical competence, thus ensuring both competent leadership and an integrated approach in the execution of the Organization's programmes.

Inter-Agency Relations and Consultations on Matters of Common Interest

Matters arising out of the UN General Assembly, ECOSOC, ACC, UNDP Governing Council and UNCTAD III1

163. The Council considered document CL 59/27 containing information on matters of interest to the Organization that had arisen from recent discusions in various important United Nations intergovernmental and inter-secretariat forums. The Council viewed the additional effort required of FAO and other agencies as a necessary part of improving coordination in the UN system.

164. It noted with satisfaction the manner in which FAO was cooperating with other members of the United Nations system in activities which were of relevance to its work. It stressed the importance of the in-depth studies undertaken by ECOSOC on the work of the Specialized Agencies and the benefit that could accrue both the Organization and to ECOSOC in furthering coordination.

165. The Council paid special attention to ECOSOC action in respect of agrarian reform. It noted with satisfaction the endorsement given in ECOSOC Resolution 1707(LIII) to the conclusions and recommendations of the report of the FAO Special Committee on Agrarian Reform. It urged FAO to give full support to the preparation of the Sixth Report on Progress in Land Reform, to be submitted to ECOSOC in 1975.

166. In regard to paragraph 11 of document CL 59/27 concerning ECOSOC Resolution 1721 (LIII) which had set up an expert group to study the role of multinational corporations in the developing process and its implications for international relations, especially in the developing countries, some members stressed the importance which they attached to this study in order to help remedy the present lack of international control over these powerful trans-national companies. In some cases, this lack had opened the way to veritable economic aggression against developing countries which, in the exercise of their sovereign rights and of the principles enshrined in various international instruments and in resolutions of the UN General Assembly, had undertaken structural reforms and recovered their natural resources for compelling reasons of economic development, social justice and international independence.

167. Because of the foregoing, and bearing in mind that many of these companies operated in the field of agricultural products, FAO was earnestly requested to take all necessary steps to cooperate fully with the expert group in studying the role played by some trans-national enterprises in that field.

168. One member concurred in emphasizing the importance of the ECOSOC study of the role of multinational corporations, but for different reasons. He observed that the study would bring together pertinent recommendations arising from other studies within the UN system. The study group would not only make recommendations to governments for use in making sovereign decisions in regard to national policy; it would also submit recommendations for appropriate international action. The member expressed the belief that the study, if done by an impartial group, would show that the multinational cooperation had a very positive influence on development and transfer of technology.

169. The Council also underlined the importance it attached to the work of the Protein Advisory Group and to the need for new sponsors with additional financial support which would enable the Group effectively to carry out its expanded terms of reference in serving the whole UN system. The hope was expressed that, in working out proposals for the operation and administration of a possible Special Protein Fund, provisions would be made to use the Fund to promote assistance in formulating national food and nutrition policies and in defining areas for priority action. Hope was also expressed that the UNDP would give greater priority to projects for nutrition improvement in the allocation of its resources at country levels.

1 CL 59/27 and CL 59/PV/12

170. With regard to the item on natural disasters, the Council noted that the UN Disaster Relief Coordinator had already had discussions with FAO and the WFP and that broad understandings had been reached as to how his coordination functions, in terms of the relevant ECOSOC resolution, would be harmonized with the operational responsibilities of the Director-General of FAO in the field of emergency food aid.

Progress Report on Cooperation Between FAO and UNDP1

171. The Council expressed satisfaction with the increasing spirit of cooperation and partnership underlying relationship between FAO and UNDP and stressed the importance of harmony between the coordinating authority of the UNDP Resident Representatives and the responsibilities for technical advice rendered by the Senior Agricultural Advisers/FAO Country Representatives as well as local representatives of other agencies. The Council recognized the Director-General's continuing efforts to improve efficiency of project delivery and field performance and to maintain expenditures within the allocation for agency overhead costs, and recommended that they be continued.

172. In connection with financial matters it was noted inter alia that arrangements for the provision of the Senior Agricultural Advisers/FAO Country Representatives were currently under review by the Director-General and the Administrator of UNDP and that a second study by a consultant had been agreed upon. The Council expressed the hope that UNDP would be in a position to continue financing these posts at least to the extent currently prevailing amounting to two-thirds of their costs. The Council stressed that FAO should continue to seek the best qualified persons to fill these key posts, and it hoped that the review would lead to the strengthening of their dual role as Representatives of the Organization and advisers to the UNDP Resident Representatives. 2

173. The Council stressed the importance of further improving cost effectiveness and efficiency and of curtailing overhead costs to both FAO and UNDP in order that the maximum amounts would be available for programme activities. The Council was informed that Phase I of the new Cost Measurement System would be introduced in the larger Agencies with effect from 1 January 1973, and that the implementation of this System was expected to improve cost effectiveness and efficiency, while at the same time providing a sound basis for policy decisions on the extent of reimbursement to FAO of overhead costs in connection with UNDP activities. In this connexion the view was expressed that it would be desirable to charge to projects the cost of activities directly related to such projects.

174. The Council was informed that the UNDP Governing Council, at its June 1972 Session, had decided that the UNDP Administrator should take immediate and appropriat steps to provide additional resources for the least developed countries from estimated programme resources for the period 1973–76, by setting aside $12 million from the Programme Reserve and by making arrangements with the Participating and Executing Agencies for the provision of $3 million from savings achieved in the resources earmarked for overhead cost payments. The extent to which this development would affect allocations to FAO for overhead costs was not yet known.

175. The Council also noted that there were three adverse factors threatening the agency cost establishment:

  1. the level of agency cost earning would be insufficient to carry the 1971 establishment;

  2. the level of expenditure and therefore of agency cost earnings was likely to drop when the present backlog had been worked off;

  3. there was doubt as to the willingness of the UNDP Governing Council even to maintain the present percentage of agency cost allocations.

176. The Council noted that the Director-General had completed the calculation and identification of activities to be moved from the Regular Programme Budget (representing UNDP/TA overheads), totalling $4 338 000, as directed by the Conference. 3

1 CL 59/3, CL 59/7, CL 59/22, CL 59/25, CL 59/LIM/2, CL 59/PV/10, CL 59/PV/12 and CL 59/PV/20
2 See paras. 153–162 above
3 CL 59/22 para. 239.

177. In conclusion the Council expressed the hope that solutions to the foregoing problems would be found which did not reduce FAO's capacity as an executing agency. The Council recommended that the Director-General explain clearly to the governing bodies, the policies and practices of the organization in those activities which had to be made more flexible and simple. In this connection it stressed the importance of governments taking compatible positions in the UNDP Governing Council and in the Governing Bodies of FAO and other organizations in the United Nations family.

178. The Council requested that it be kept informed of developments regarding these problems.

179. The Council had a further discussion on the general subject of FAO/UNDP cooperation during its consideration of the UN Joint Inspection Unit (JUI) Report on Country Programming and After 1. This report prompted a full debate on the effect which this type of programming was having on the status of FAO vis-a-vis recipient governments, the number of agricultural projects included within country Indicative Planning Figures (IPF), and the role and the functions of FAO Country Representatives. While the Council agreed that the success of country programming insofar as FAO was concerned as well as the maintenance of assistance in the field of agriculture at adequate levels was dependent upon the closest possible collaboration between UNDP and FAO, great concern was expressed about recent developments in country programming which had resulted in a decline in the number of agricultural projects in approved country programmes. Some members feared that if present trends were to continue the role of FAO as the international technical authority in agriculture could be jeopardized and, more importantly, that recipient countries, most of which were increasingly in need of aid in this sector, would suffer in consequence.

180. It was suggested that the appointment of consultants in agriculture directly by UNDP and its use in other fields of expertise external to the UN family without sufficient consultation with the Agencies was not conducive to greater efficiency and economy, not to improvements in the coordination of activities within the UN system.

181. In the discussion on this subject the Council was informed by the representative of the United Nations Development Programme that in the implementation of the Consensus and in the delegation of greater authority to recipient governments and to the Resident Representative, there was no intention to belittle the important role of the Specialized Agencies. In any event, procedures with respect to country programming were not static and the UNDP governing bodies were ready and eager to maintain these procedures under constant review and, in consultation with the Executive Heads, to effect improvements as they became necessary.

182. The Council decided to place on record its concern about possible adverse effects which the implementation of new country programming procedures could have on the role and field activities of the Organization, as well as on the ability of FAO Country Representatives to carry out their important functions. It requested the Director-General to take into account the views expressed by Council members in any future review of country programming carried out in consultation with UNDP or at sessions of IACB. In addition, the Council requested that it be informed of the outcome of the review of the SAA/FAO Country Representatives system now being carried out by the Joint UNDP/FAO Consultant.

183. Finally, on this subject, the Council was informed by the Director-General that he had established machinery both to ensure the incorporation of all agricultural inputs in the process of planning country programmes, and to improve the delivery performance of the Organization. Clarification of the status, role and functions of the country representatives would, he believed, be forthcoming from the review of the consultant. He assured the Council that it would be kept fully informed on these matters as they evolved, as would the Programme and Finance Committees.

1 See paras. 203–205 below.

Action Plan Adopted by the UN Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm, June 1972)1

184. The Vice-Chairman of the Programme Committee presented the comments of this Committee on the document prepared by the Director-General on the implications of the Action Plan of the UN Conference on the Human Environment on FAO programmes. The representative of the Secretary-General of this Conference made a short review of the results obtained at Stockholm and stressed that the close collaboration established with FAO for the preparation of this Conference should continue for the implementation of the Action Plan. He indicated that 1973 would be devoted to detailed programme formulation. The actual implementation of the Action Plan with the support of the Environment Fund was therefore likely to start in 1974 after this programming period.

185. The Council recognized the importance of this Conference as a major achievement in the efforts of the international community to reconcile the objectives of development and the long-term requirements for the conservation of natural resources and protection of the environment. The Council commended the active participation of FAO and its close collaboration with the Conference Secretariat and other agencies in the preparation of this Conference. It also noted that this Conference had duly recognized the important and positive role that agriculture, forestry and fisheries had played, and should continue to play, in the maintenance of the quality of the human environment.

186. The Council agreed that, with regard to the human environment, the mandate of FAO was to concern itself with the monitoring and conservation of the productive capacity of natural resources for agriculture, forestry and fisheries and the mutual interactions of these activities and the environment, including the related problems of wastes, pollution and food contamination. It was also recognized that much of FAO's work already contributed directly to the improvement of human environment.

187. The Council noted that about one third of the operative recommendations of the Stockholm Conference were addressed to FAO, or directly involved FAO together with other UN organizations. The Council concurred with the views of the Programme Committee that most of the actions recommended to FAO were not new but actually amounted to increasing support given to ongoing or planned activities of the Organization. The Council noted the information given by the Director-General that the financial implications of the Stockholm Conference on the Regular Budget would therefore be minimal and could mostly be absorbed by the Regular Programme. Nevertheless the Council concurred with the Programme Committee recommendation that the Director-General study and report on the financial implications of the action plan for FAO.

188. The Council also agreed that increased or new activities beyond the level of present or planned activities of the Regular Programme would need to be financed primarily by extra-budgetary sources of funds, in particular the UN Environment Fund. The Council, however, requested the Director-General to take due account of the growing responsibilities of the Organization and demands for assistance in the environmental field and to consider the need for shifting priorities towards this important area.

189. The Council requested the Director-General to report in more detail to the next sessions of the Council and Conference on the steps taken for the implementation of the Stockholm Conference recommendations.

190. The Council recommended that, in drafting the relevant programmes, the Director-General should take due account of the views already expressed by the FAO Regional Conferences, the Programme Committee and the Council as to the priorities for specific areas within the Action Plan, and of the overall guidance and coordination to be ensured by the UN Governing Council for Environmental Programmes. In this connexion the view was expressed that that Governing Council and its Secretariat should enlist, when necessary, the competence of the existing UN institutions when assessing the effectiveness of their environmental programmes.

1 CL 59/18, CL 59/22 paras. 122–127, CL 59/PV/14 and CL 59/PV/20

191. The Council expressed satisfactíon with the work of coordination and liaison ensured by the Inter-Departmental Working Group on Natural Resources and the Human Environment. It recognized that the Plan of Action of the Stockholm Conference called for increased cooperation and coordination both within FAO itself, and between FAO, other UN agencies, the non-governmental organizations and the new institutional machinery of the UN for environment protection. The Council stressed the desirability of the Director-General giving this Working Group appropriate authority and means to perform its task of coordination for ensuring the effective participation of FAO in the implementation of the Action Plan.

192. The President of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the representative of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers gave a short account of the activities of their Organizations in the environmental field and expressed their keen interest in strengthening the collaboration in this area both with FAO and the new UN Environment Secretariat.

FAO/UNIDO Cooperation1

193. In connexion with the request of the Sixteenth Session of the FAO Conference for information on the state of cooperation between FAO and UNIDO, the Council heard a statement by the Executive-Director of UNIDO on the current situation and the future potentialities of closer cooperation between the two Organizations. The Council was unanimous in welcoming the presence of the Executive-Director of UNIDO and his contribution to its discussions.

194. It also noted with satisfaction that constructive arrangements had recently been agreed upon by the two Executive Heads in respect of Broad Principles to guide the application of the 1969 Agreement, and with regard to clarification of the respective responsibilities of the two Organizations in the forest based industries and fisheries equipment sectors.

195. The Council commended the spirit of good will and understanding shown by the Executive Heads in the working arrangements so far developed. It expressed the hope that, in the formulation and implementation of joint or complementary activities, the staff of the two Organizations would, at all levels, observe these arrangements in the same spirit. In this connection the Council supported the action taken, through letters of instruction sent by each Organization to its field staff, in promoting such understanding at country level.

196. The Council considered that these developments, and the machinery provided by periodic meetings of the Inter-Secretariat Committee which constituted an adequate mechanism for resolving difficulties and for promoting new essential areas of collaboration, provided a valid framework for intensified cooperation between the two Organizations. In this respect the Council agreed with the proposal that FAO and UNIDO jointly prepare a statement for the Second General Conference of UNIDO on various aspects of inter-action and inter-dependence of agriculture and industry in the developing countries. It expressed the hope that such a statement would also be made available, in due course, to the FAO Conference.

197. A few points of detail were raised in respect of the recently established Broad Principles, on which further clarification was considered desirable. The Council agreed that, since these would be reflected in the verbatim records of its discussion, they should be examined at the next meeting of the Inter-Secretariat Committee and that a report should be made to the Programme Committee as part of the procedure for keeping the Council informed on further developments, as recommended by the Twenty-Second Session of the Programme Committee.

198. Whilst expressing appreciation for the statement of the Executive-Director of UNIDO to the Council, some clarification was sought in respect of references to “technical and economic competition, not only from the different organizations but also from different units within the same organization”. The Council noted that this referred to competition in ideas for the promotion of alternative proposals as a means of widening the choices available to developing countries in identifying the manner in which limited resources of aid could best be used, and did not imply any encouragement to duplication of action.

1 CL 59/PV/9 and CL 59/PV/20

UN Joint Inspection Unit1

199. The Council took note of the brief introductory statements by the Chairmen of the Programme and Finance Committees on the four reports dealing with and/or issued by the Joint Inspection Unit (JIU).

200. With respect to the question of the continuation of the Unit for a further period, the Council endorsed the views expressed in the reports of the Programme and Finance Committees and re-confirmed its support of the Unit as an independent investigatory body to assist the participating organizations in ensuring efficiency and the optimum use of available resources. At the same, time, the Council believed that the terms of reference of the Unit might be amended, as suggested by the Programme and Finance Committees, to enhance the effectiveness of the services it rendered on behalf of the United Nations family.

201. The Council was informed that the Director-General was cooperating actively with the Unit and that, through ACC and other inter-agency channels, was involved in proposing subjects for its study. It was noted that the Fourth Report of the Activities of the Joint Inspection Unit 2 included a large number of reports, completed or in the process of preparation, which had been proposed in the first instance by participating organizations.

202. In supporting the recommendations of the Programme and Finance Committees regarding improvements which could be made in the work of the Unit, the Council laid particular stress on the importance of appointing Inspectors of the highest calibre, the need for the Unit to deal only with concrete and clearly-defined problems of direct concern to the participating organizations, the avoidance of delays in the issuance of reports and their processing by the FAO Secretariat, and the provision of adequate time for consideration of JIU reports on the agenda of FAO's governing bodies.

203. The Council gave considerable attention to the Report on Country Programming and After 3 endorsing in general the views of the Director-General and of the Programme and Finance Committees on this report which, though issued at an early stage after the introduction of country programming, the Council felt contained a number of valuable suggestions.

204. Specific references were made to several of these suggestions including (a) the need to limit the range of UN technical assistance to areas in which it could have the greatest catalytic effect; (b) the importance of coordinating UN assistance with programmes sponsored by bilateral agencies; (c) the effecting of improvements, based on experience in country programming, in the formulation, execution, appraisal and follow-up of field projects; (d) the limitation in the value of food aid projects because of the financial burdens these projects placed upon many governments, and (e) the extension of country programming to include all external inputs.

205. The Council requested that is views on these matters as well as those expressed in the debate on FAO/UNDP cooperation 4 be borne in mind in future discussions by the Director-General with UNDP and at IACB.

206. The Council also gave its attention to the JIU report on Treatment of Water Resources Development in the UND Family of Organizations as well as to the comments of the Director-General and the Programme and Finance Committees on this report.

207. The purpose of the JIU study was to examine the activities of each of the members of the UN family involved in water resources, namely UN, FAO, WHO, Unesco, WMO and IAEA, and to determine the extent to which the UN system was helping to bring about a rational, scientific and systematic approach to the utilization of water resources for development. Based on this study, the report proposed measures for improved coordination and joint programming between Organizations in the water sector. Amongst the principal measures proposed in the report was the establishment of a new, additional machinery of Regional Water Resources Centres, one attached to each of the regional commissions, and a UN World Water Centre.

1 CL 59/4, CL 59/6, CL 59/7, CL 59/20, CL 59/22, CL 59/36, CL 59/PV/14, CL 59/PV/15 and CL 59/PV/20
2 CL 59/36
3 JIU/REP/72/12
4 See paras. 179–183 above

208. The Programme and Finance Committees in their reports to the Council appreciated the work done by the JIU Inspector but disagreed with the principal proposal of a new, additional machinery, as it would mean an undesirable proliferation of UN bodies. The Director-General's comments had been endorsed by the two Committees.

209. In the discussion, members appreciated the work done by the JIU Inspector. However, it was felt that a new machinery for coorination in the water field, as proposed by the Inspector, was not an appropriate solution and the Director-General's Comments proposing instead improvement of the existing arrangements for coordination within the ACC were endorsed by all speakers. One member particularly endorsed the Director-General's proposal of the ACC Sub-Committee studying the question of coordination in greater depth, for which its members would have to speak with the authority of their organizations. Another member mentioned that about 80 percent of all water controlled by man was consumed by agriculture and concluded that FAO should be more active in this field. In this connexion, the Council was informed that only three United Nations Organizations had a substantive field programme concerned with water; of all UNDP-financed water projects, about 63 percent have been carried out by FAO, about 22 percent by the United Nations and about 10 percent by WHO; all other Specialized Agencies remained below the 3 percent level. 1

210. In reply to a question on the effectiveness of the present system of coordination raised by one member, the Council was informed that in FAO's views the existing inter-agency machinery for coordination was, in general, satisfactory. Certainly, coordination in the field of water could and should be improved. Most of the other UN Organizations were in agreement with FAO's view that the ACC Sub-Committee on Water Resources Development should remain the focal point of inter-agency coordination and cooperation in the water field.

211. With reference to the question of cooperation between the JIU and FAO in preparing the report and the surprise expressed by one member that the principal proposal by the JIU report had been rejected by the Director-General, the Council was informed that over the period of some two years when the JIU Inspector was preparing this report, every assistance had been rendered to him by the Secretariat. He had visited FAO on two occasions for discussion with officers who had provided him with all the information requested about the work of the Organization in this field. Eventually, the Inspector had submitted, to the Director of the division concerned very informally, extracts from his draft report for factual comments. These had been provided. The JIU then formulated conclusions or recommendations for incorporation in its official report. Once this was received by the Director-General, he commented on these conclusions and policy issues.

International Information System for the Agricultural Sciences and Technology (AGRIS) Progress Report2

212. The Council was informed of the development in the implementation of AGRIS, pursuant to Resolution 4/71 of the Sixteenth Session of the Conference. It noted the action taken to enlist support from interested institutions and from Member Governments, and the results obtained to date, as well as the prospective developments to bring AGRIS Level One (current awareness system) to the operational level by 1974, resources permitting, and to pursue the study of AGRIS Level Two (network of specialized information services).

213. The Council also noted the complementary information, provided at its request, particularly as regards the benefits for developing countries, the liaison between and planned complementarity of the AGRIS and CARIS projects, the governments and institutions already providing support to AGRIS, the languages to be used, the objectives of AGRIS Level One and Level Two. The Council took noted that, in its efforts to set-up AGRIS, as recommended by the Conference, FAO was essentially aiming at improving the transfer of knowledge through a cooperative undertaking involving governments and institutions, and that such a system, to be effective and adapted to the needs of its users should be flexible with respect to both structure and methods.

1 “The United Nations Development Programme and Natural Resources”, Report of the Administrator of the Programme, ECOSOC Committee on Natural Resources, Second Session, Doc. E/C.7/22. 2.12.71

2 CL 59/15, CL 59/15-Sup.1, CL 59/22, CL 59/PV/14 and CL 59/PV/20

214. Reaffirming the importance of effective dissemination, for the benefit of all countries, of scientific and technical knowledge essential to development, and recognizing the importance of cooperative action, under international coordination, in order to deal economically -through sharing of the workload and agreed common procedures - with a constantly growing volume of information, the Council reiterated its support for the AGRIS concept and objectives, and the desirability of establishing such a potentially useful system.

215. In reviewing the progress to date and the anticipated developments, some members stressed the need to ensure optimum use of the already existing major information centres, in order to avoid duplication of costs and improve substantially the services to users; several members felt that the proposed information system would be justified only if it met the real needs of the the users, including those in developing countries. Other members expressed the view that, in setting up AGRIS Level One - and even more so for AGRIS Level Two - undue haste might adversely affect the results expected. Some members also stressed the importance of giving adequate attention to the basic role of libraries, as sources of information to users, and the need to reinforce, rather than reduce, this role through computer-assisted systems.

216. While commending the action carried out so far, the Council, in agreement with the recommendations of the Programme Committee, stressed the need for more complete and precise information on AGRIS Level One before allocating increased funds in the 1974–75 Programme of Work and Budget - particularly with respect to its set-up, mode of operation, benefits and costs in the short, medium and long term and with respect to the sources from which it was to be financed - to be made available to the Council and Conference, together with the results and evaluation of the experimental phase to be carried out in 1973.

First Report on Unscheduled Sessions of FAO Bodies in the 1972–73 Biennium1

217. The Council recalled that when the Sixteenth Session of the Conference had approved the list of sessions and conferences for the 1972–73 biennium to be financed under the Regular Programme, it had recognized that in exceptional circumstances certain unscheduled sessions might be necessary. The Council also recalled that the Fourteenth Session of the Conference by Resolution 21/67, had authorized the Director-General to make such exceptions when in his view this was necessary, subject, however, to these exceptions being reported to the next session of the Council.

218. The Council noted that 21 sessions had been approved between 1 January and 31 October 1972 and 59 sessions had been cancelled. While it was recognized that the financial problems of the Organization in 1972 had resulted in a large number of changes, the Council stressed the need for tighter planning and control of meetings. The Council also requested the Programme and Finance Committees to review the method of reporting on unscheduled and cancelled sessions.

219. A list of the unscheduled sessions approved and of the sessions cancelled between 1 January and 31 October 1972 is given in Appendix F hereto.

1 CL 59/33 and CL 59/PV/15

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