8. The Report of the Forty-Eighth Session of the Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP) was presented by the Chairman of the Committee. The Council also took note of the Director-General's report on the urgent consultation of representatives of major wheat exporting countries to consider the world cereal situation which he had convened in September 1973.
9. The Council shared the Committee's concern with the current world commodity situation and outlook. While noting that the grains situation now appeared more favourable than it did a few months earlier, the Council again stressed the overriding need for greater production especially in developing countries and for more determined national and international efforts to seek solutions to commodity problems. The Council invited the Conference to examine in detail all proposals in this respect including those from the Director-General on agricultural adjustments and world food security.
10. A number of members considered that the Report lacked firm conclusions and recommendations on the serious food and commodity problems facing the world at present, that it did not contain any proposal for concrete action and that in some cases its conclusions appeared to have been a step backwards. Other members, however, considered that the Committee had fulfilled its role and performed an important task in presenting a realistic analysis of some of the main issues to be discussed by the Conference, besides undertaking a selective and useful analysis of the world commodity situation. In their view, the Committee had shown full awareness of the main issues of world commodity and trade problems and had made a positive contribution by analysing these difficult and complex issues for further consideration by the Conference. The Council reiterated its earlier recommendation that the Committee should continue to examine basic policy issues underlying the world agricultural commodity situation and outlook and give its work a more action-oriented character by making recommendations where possible on these matters.
11. The Council took note of the Committee's preliminary consideration of the Director-General's proposal on a minimum world food security policy, which was to be further considered by the Conference at its forthcoming session. Support was expressed for the proposal, which was also regarded as being closely linked with suggestions for international agricultural adjustment.
12. The Council also took note of the Committee's preliminary analysis of the Director-General's report on International Agricultural Adjustment to the Conference. It was felt that international agricultural adjustment involved expansion of world trade, assistance to developing countries in the expansion of their production, food storage facilities and trade, and help to countries to adjust their domestic policies. The Council endorsed the views of the CCP to the effect that the Director-General's proposals were in fairly broad outline and therefore required more detailed elaboration and discussion before their full implications would become apparent. The Council also mentioned that the proposals for food security and agricultural adjustment were geared to tackle medium-term problems, but there was no mechanism to deal with the short-term food problem which continued to cause concern.
13. The Council expressed satisfaction at the outcome of the experiment of open membership of the Committee decided on by the last Conference session. This decision had made it possible for all interested governments to share in the work of the Committee. The Council, however, stressed that countries wishing to be members of the Committee should regard appointment to it as a firm commitment to attend and participate actively in the Committee's sessions.
1 CL 61/2, CL 61/LIM/2, CL 61/PV/1, CL 61/PV/2 and CL 61/PV/8.
14. The Council took note of the Committee's further consideration of FAO contribution to the multilateral trade negotiations under GATT and welcomed the Declaration made at the ministerial meeting held in Tokyo in September 1973. It placed particular emphasis on the statement of the developed countries that they did not expect reciprocity for commitments by them in negotiations to reduce or remove tariff barriers to the trade of developing countries and on their recognition of the importance of maintaining and improving the Generalized System of Preferences and of the application of differential measures to developing countries in ways which would provide special and more favourable treatment for them in areas where this was feasible and important. The Council recommended that the Director-General and the competent bodies of FAO should take into account the Tokyo Declaration when making their contributions in assisting the multilateral trade negotiations.
15. The Council endorsed the Committee's view that the FAO Secretariat should assist all Member Nations, on request, in their preparations for the negotiations by making available its technical expertise and information and by identifying alternative methods and approaches to solutions to agricultural commodity problems.
16. The Council noted the preparations under way both in UNCTAD and FAO for the intensive intergovernmental commodity consultations to be held under UNCTAD Resolution 83 (III) and Resolution 7 (VII) of the UNCTAD Committee on Commodities. The Council stressed the importance of these consultations which would provide a useful exchange of views and which “(a) should examine problems in the field of trade liberalization and pricing policy, and (b) should aim to present concrete proposals to governments designed to expand trade in products of export interest to the developing countries and thus contribute to the growth of their foreign exchange earnings as well as to their increased participation in market growth by (i) improving their access to world markets, and (ii) securing stable, remunerative and equitable prices for primary products” 1. The Council felt that the consultations gave new emphasis to the important responsibilities placed on the FAO intergovernmental commodity groups concerned and provided these groups with an opportunity to make a significant contribution to the development of solutions of problems confronting governments in the field of primary commodities.
17. The Council shared the CCP's view that each consultation should be organized and programmed so that, insofar as possible, its work should be limited to a single session, though it was recognized that in a few cases a second session might prove necessary. The importance of adequate documentation and its timely distribution to governments was again stressed.
18. The Council expressed its gratitude to J.C. Vignaud for his very effective and competent work as Chairman of the CCP during the 1972–73 biennium.
19. The Council endorsed the views expressed by the Programme Committee at its Twenty-Fourth Session 3 with regard to the quality and format of document C 73/4, Review of FAO Field Programmes 1972–73. It commended the document for the most careful consideration by Commission II of the Conference. While welcoming the wide-ranging scope of the basic development issues impartially analysed in the document on the basis of a synthesis of the evaluation of a fairly large number of field projects, the Council agreed that the purpose of the document would be best served by focussing attention on the basic policy issues underlined in the Director-General's Foreword. The Council also felt that it would be helpful to set up a special drafting group to summarize the discussion in Commission II on these and related issues and to draft specific recommendations arising from this discussion.
20. With respect to future documents on this subject, many members expressed the opinion that further selectivity and concentration on specific policy issues would be desirable, while others felt that the scope of the review should not be reduced.
1 Resolution 7 (VII) of the UNCTAD Committee on Commodities.
2 CL 61/3, CL 61/3-Corr.1, CL 60/3, C 73/4, C 73/4-Corr. 1 and CL 61/PV/9.
3 CL 61/3, paras. 2.27 to 2.30.
21. The Council considered the Director-General's proposals (CL 61/5) and the views of the Programme and Finance Committees (CL 61/3) thereon. It noted that although the proposals were inter-connected, three issues - operational structures, the transfer of the Policy Analysis Division form the Economic and Social Policy Department to the Development Department and the merger of the Agriculture and Economic and Social Policy Departments - could be considered separately.
22. The proposals thus provided for the centralization of the five operations services in the Agriculture and Economic and Social Policy Departments into an Agricultural Operations Division. The new Agricultural Operations Division would be responsible for the operations of all field projects for the two departments, and would be headed by a D-2 director. It would include 4 Regional Operations Services corresponding to the four Regional Bureaux of the UNDP. These services would be staffed by Country Projects Officers, each of whom would be basically responsible for the implementation of projects in a specified country or countries. The division of work among the operational staff would thus be geographical.
23. The Programme and Finance Committees had made reference to the fact that in the past the Field Programme had tended to overshadow the Regular Programme and the Committees considered it vital that the Regular Programme be given increasing prominence particularly in divisions that have been devoting the larger part of their efforts to supporting the field programmes. Any solution to the problem of operational structures should provide for the continuing close involvement of technical officers in the Field Programme but should, at the same time, relieve them of any functions that could be carried by non-technical staff. The Committees had also had considerable discussion as to whether or not the centralization process should be limited to the two departments under consideration or should be extended to include the operations of the Fisheries and Forestry Departments. The Committees, however, had decided to recommend the adoption of the Director-General's proposal. It was understood that such a course of action would keep open the possibility of full centralization of all operations in the Development Department at a later stage if this proved to be advisable in the light of further experience.
24. The Director-General had proposed the merger of the Agriculture and Economic and Social Policy Departments in recognition of the fact that in a complex sector such as agriculture, the economic and social aspects must be integrated as far as possible with the technical aspects. The Agriculture Department would thus contain technical work, economics, social programmes and statistics, in a broad integrated structure including operations and matching (although on a much larger scale) the structure of the Forestry and Fisheries Departments. Agriculture, forestry and fisheries - the three major sub-sectors on which the Organization is based - would thus be reflected simply and clearly in the overall design of the Secretariat.
25. The Programme and Finance Committees had felt that the resulting Department would be disproportionately large in relation to the rest of the Organization. It would cover a wide range of disciplines and sub-sectors. The span of command of the ADG would be greater than would normally appear advisable. After hearing the points raised by the two Committees, the Director-General had proposed to leave the post of ADG, Agricultural Department, vacant when the incumbent retired in mid-1974, and designate the ADG, Economic and Social Policy Department, to act as head of the Agriculture Department. The Programme and Finance Committees and the Council would be kept informed of progress and problems. In due course a decision could be taken, in the light of experience, whether to retain definitely the present structure and appoint a new ADG, Agriculture Department, or whether to proceed with formal integration of the two Departments. The Programme and Finance Committees had noted this alternative approach and had concurred in it on the grounds that it would enable a final decision to be taken on a sound and tested basis.
1 CL 61/3, CL 61/3-Corr. 1, CL 61/5, CL 61/5-Sup. 1, CL 60/3, CL 61/PV/3, CL 61/PV/4, CL 61/PV/5, CL 61/PV/8 and CL 61/PV/9.
26. Two separate factors required a reorientation of part of the work of the Development Department proposed by the Director-General. The first was the shift in the approaches and procedures used for programme planning, and in particular, the establishment of the UNDP country programming system. The second factor requiring change in the orientation of the Department was the restructuring of operations described above which would considerably reduce the earlier problems of coordination.
27. Within the Development Department, the structure and terms of reference of the Area Services Division - retitled “Field Liaison Division” - would be modified. Its present Operations Centre would be abolished. The four Area Services would be somewhat reduced in size, renamed Regional Liaison Groups, and brought together in a Regional Liaison Bureau.
28. At the same time, the Policy Analysis Division, at present established in the Economic and Social Policy Department, would be moved to the Development Department. This move would bring the Policy Analysis Division's work on Country Perspective Studies close to the work on Country Development Briefs, coordinated by the present Area Service Division. The Development Department would thereby serve as a central point in which the Organization develops its views and advises governments upon request concerning priorities and short and medium-term development assistance strategies at country level.
29. The Programme and Finance Committees had expressed some reservations as to the desirability of transferring to the Development Department the Division's responsibility for work on the State of Food and Agriculture. Some reservations had also been expressed concerning the Director-General's proposal to retain work on International Agricultural Adjustment in the Economic and Social Policy Department. The Committees, however, had concurred in the transfer of the Division as proposed by the Director-General, but recommended that this should be provisional until such time as the Programme and Finance Committees could study further the various functions and activities of the Division, to determine where activities, in particular International Agricultural Adjustment and SOFA, could best be placed in relation to the functions and activities of other sectors of the Organization.
30. The restructuring of the Area Service Division into a Field Liaison Division with economies in staff had also been accepted by the Committees.
31. The rationalization proposals of the Director-General, reviewed by the Programme and Finance Committees as outlined above, elicited considerable discussion and differing and in some cases divergent views in the Council. On the general issue, the Council considered that it was being confronted far too often with proposals to change existing structures. Successive reorganizations interfered with the work which the Organization should be carrying out to help its member countries in finding solutions to the many and serious world food and agricultural problems. Furthermore, in such circumstances, each change had an adverse effect on staff morale; this in turn was detrimental to the Organization's efficiency. The timing of the proposed changes was also questioned, particularly taking into account that the elections for Director-General would take place in two years and that the successful candidate would no doubt have his own ideas on these issues. It was also stated that it would be better to await reorientation taking place in UNDP before undertaking any reorganization in FAO. Consequently postponement of the consideration of the proposals could prove prudent. It was also felt that the Programme and Finance Committees had only agreed to these proposals in a spirit of compromise. It was also suggested that if any reorganization was necessary, there should be a full - instead of a piece-meal - review to be undertaken of the Organization's structure and Programme of Work and Budget. A suggestion was also made for greater decentralization of the Organization by giving more autonomy to its regional bodies. A large number of members also considered that the Council should establish an Ad Hoc Committee to assist the Director-General and the Programme and Finance Committees to review this matter and to report back to the November 1975 Council Session.
32. With regard to the proposals concerning operational structures, many members indicated their preference for a single operational unit, including the operational activities of Fisheries and Forestry. In this case, the single operations unit should be located in the Development Department. The view was also expressed that the Council had not been provided with sufficient detailed information regarding the proposed structure nor regarding the certainty of the savings that were expected. The need for close links between the new Operations and the technical divisions was strongly emphasized, and clarification of these relations was therefore required.
33. The Council, after extensive discussion of the issues involved and in the light of the proposals which emerged from the informal group chaired by the Independent Chairman which met the Director-General to discuss the proposal, nevertheless decided to agree to the Director-General's proposals on operational structures as endorsed by the Programme and Finance Committees 1, i.e. a regrouping of the five operations services in the Agriculture and Economic and Social Policy Departments into a new Agricultural Operations Division, the director to be responsible to the two Assistant Directors-General of the above Departments (see below). However, some members disagreed with the creation of this new division without seeing a detailed organigram which they had requested but was not provided by the Secretariat. A number of members mentioned that this could constitute a first step towards full centralization of all operations to be re-located in the Development Department at a later stage if this proved to be advisable in the light of further experience. In its wish to have maximum information on this important question the Council requested the Programme and Finance Committees to study the requirements for the establishment and operation of this division and to reexamine the advantages and disadvantages of full centralization in due course and to report back to the Council thereon.
34. With regard to the merger of the Agriculture and Economic and Social Policy Departments the Council considered that issues of a fundamental nature were involved. The proposal would lead to the constitution of a department so large that it would overshadow the two other technical departments, Fisheries and Forestry. Too many problems of a global nature were facing FAO, the solution for which tended to emphasize the need for technical specialization. These considerations included the feeling that the results of the projected “World Food Conference” might have implications for FAO's structure. Steps should not be taken which would in effect lead to pre-judging the future situation, but a provisional solution might in fact extend over too long a period of time. An excessively heavy load would be placed on the Assistant Director-General who would be responsible for the merged departments. The proposal did not consitute a real merger but rather a juxtaposition of the two departments and as such would not in itself be conducive to increased efficiency or to the elimination of any possible overlaps.
35. The Council after lengthy discussion of the issues did not approve the proposed merger of the Agriculture and Economic and Social Policy Departments, nor the alternative proposal concurred in by the Programme and Finance Committees, i.e. to leave the post of Assistant Director-General, Agriculture Department, vacant when the incumbent retired in mid 1974 and to designate the Assistant Director-General, Economic and Social Policy Department, to act as head of the Agriculture Department.
1 The delegate of Argentina reserved his Government's position with regard to the Council decision and stated that his Government reserved its right to raise it in the Conference.
36. With regard to the proposal for changes in the Development Department, the Council discussed various aspects of the issues involved. Some members considered that the proposed changes - as in the case of operational structure - had not been substantiated with the kind of detailed information that would allow for a decision based on a more comprehensive knowledge of facts to be arrived at by the Council. The proposal that the work on the State of Food and Agriculture - carried out at present by the Policy Analysis Division - should move with the Division to the Development Department required further consideration; so did the question of the location of the work on International Agricultural Adjustment which was to be retained in the Economic and Social Policy Department. The Policy Analysis Division itself had emerged as a division in the Economic and Social Policy Department, out of proposals endorsed by the Council, only a year earlier and its transfer to the Development Department might have adverse effects on its work, particularly that related to Country Perspective studies which were only at their initial stages.
37. The Council, after considering at some length the issues involved, endorsed the views of the Programme and Finance Committees regarding the proposed changes in the Development Department. 1 In particular, it endorsed the transfer of the Policy Analysis Division (except as regards International Agricultural Adjustment) to the Development Department from the Economic and Social Policy Department; this transfer should be considered provisional until such time as the Programme and Finance Committees could study the matter further, in particular location of the responsibility for International Agricultural Adjustment and SOFA, to determine where such activities could best be placed in relation to the functions and activities of other sectors of the Organization.
38. The Council noted the information presented by the Director-General in his report 2 on the Survey of Periodicals and Annuals carried out following the Council's decision at its Fifty-Ninth session 3. The Council endorsed the conclusions submitted by the Programme Committee 4, which had stressed that all FAO's publishing activities must continue to be governed by FAO's publications policy as approved by the Council at its Fifty-Fifth session (1970). In particular, the policy guidelines laid down that all material issued by FAO should bear a direct and specific relation to the priorities, projects and activities in the approved Programme of Work. Likewise, the Council wished to maintain the system of quotas of priced publications issued to Member Governments and felt that any unpriced documents which might receive full quota distribution should therefore be moved into the category of priced publications.
39. Concerning specific periodicals, the Council endorsed the views expressed by the Programme Committee. The transformation of the present Nutrition Newsletter into an FAO Food and Nutrition Bulletin serving a wider audience and covering a broader range of subjects should be reviewed by the Programme Committee, as requested by the Council at its Sixtieth Session, 5 before being implemented, although steps could be taken in the meantime to prepare for the proposed development of the Newsletter. The Council also noted that the readership survey had revealed a consensus in favour of the resumption of the publication of Unasylva, for which the Director-General had made provision in his draft Programme of Work 6.
40. Regarding Ceres, the view was expressed by some members that this magazine should avoid the appearance of a house organ engaged in self-advertisement for FAO and, in this respect, should be more concerned with the mobilization of effective support for the Organization's objectives and aims in the field of development, than with reflecting the specific programmes and activities of the Organization 7. The Council was informed that the number of paid subscriptions, which had dropped in July 1972 to 14 000, had now reached 17 000, and that distribution by means other than paid subscriptions, specifically according to the ‘controlled circulation concept’, was receiving careful attention and being developed systematically. Lastly, it was suggested that the choice of the main themes to be dealt with in future issues of Ceres would be a proper subject for review from time to time by the Programme Committee.
1 The delegate of Argentina did not concur with the Council's decision and reserved his Government's position.
2 CL 61/17.
3 CL 59/REP, para. 77
4 CL 61/3, paras. 2.44–2.51.
5 CL 60/REP, para. 117.
6 C 73/3-Sup. 1, sub-programme 188.8.131.52.
7 Report of the Thirteenth session of the Conference, para. 151.
41. The Council noted that the Director-General would continue his examination of the present system of FAO periodicals and annuals with a view to introducing such improvements as might be found desirable in due course.
42. As recommended by the Sixtieth Session of the Council, the Director-General convened an ad hoc Consultation on Fertilizers in Rome from 22 to 24 October 1973 with the participation of fertilizer industry representatives and of UNIDO, IBRD and UNCTAD, to review the current world fertilizer supply and price situation, assess major trends and the longer-term outlook and to consider the desirability of establishing a standing inter-governmental body on fertilizers with appropriate terms of reference.
43. The report of the Consultation was presented by the Assistant Director-General, Agriculture Department, on behalf of the Chairman of the Consultation who was unable to be present.
44. The Council endorsed the Report of the Consultation and expressed satisfaction that it had been convened in time to report to the present session. Some members doubted whether the proposed commission under Article VI-1 was the only possible type of body, and stressed the need for caution in its discussions, especially in regard to prices. Some members also warned against the establishment of subsidiary bodies since FAO already had a large number of them.
45. Having examined the proposal, and the text of the Draft Statutes submitted, for the establishment of a Commission on Fertilizers under Article VI-1 of the Constitution and having noted the above views the Council adopted the following resolution:
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE COMMISSION ON FERTILIZERS
Recognizing the importance of the role played by fertilizers in agricultural production, particularly in developing countries,
Recalling that at its Sixtieth Session it had agreed that the Director-General should convene an ad hoc inter-governmental consultation to review the world fertilizer supply and price situation, to assess major trends and long-term outlook in fertilizer production, consumption and trade, and to consider the desirability of establishing a standing intergovernmental body on fertilizers within the framework of FAO,
Having examined the Report of the Ad Hoc Government Consultation on Fertilizers held in Rome from 22 to 24 October 1973,
Concurring with the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Government Consultation on Fertilizers that the establishment of a Commission under Article VI-1 of the Constitution would be desirable,
Hereby establishes, under Article VI-1 of the Constitution of the Organization, a Commission to be known as the “Commission on Fertilizers”, the Statutes of which shall be as follows:
1 CL 61/6, CL 61/6-Corr. 1 and CL 61/PV/6.
1. The Terms of Reference of the Commission shall be:
to review and analyse current production and consumption of, and trade in fertilizers, and to disseminate regularly information regarding the demand and supply position and its probable development in the medium- and long-term;
to review the economic factors related to fertilizer use, with special reference to prices, distribution and trade;
to consider (in cooperation with the UNIDO/FAO/IBRD-IFC Working Group on the Financing of Fertilizer Projects) measures to promote the expansion of production to meet estimated demand, with special attention to the expansion of production in developing countries, whenever feasible;
to consider any special difficulties which may exist or may arise in relation to fertilizer production, consumption and trade;
to report and submit recommendations to the Director-General on policy issues arising out of its deliberations.
2. Membership in the Commission shall be open to all Member Nations and Associate Members of the Organization which notify the Director-General of their desire to be considered as members.
3. The participation as observers of Member Nations and Associate Members that are not members of the Commission, of non-member nations of the Organization and of international organizations shall be governed by the relevant provisions of the principles adopted by the Conference.
4. The Commission may establish such subsidiary bodies as it deems necessary for the accomplishment of its task subject to the availability of the necessary funds in the relevant chapter of the approved budget of the Organization; the determination of such availability shall be made by the Director-General. Before taking any decision involving expenditure in connexion with the establishment of subsidiary bodies, the Commission must have before it a report from the Director-General on the administrative and financial implications thereof.
5. The Secretary of the Commission shall be appointed by the Director-General and shall be administratively responsible to him.
6. At each Session, the Commission shall adopt a report which shall be transmitted by the Director-General to Member Nations and Associate Members and to interested international oprganization. Any conclusions and recommendations having policy, programme, or financial implications shall be brought to the attention of the Conference through the Council by the Director-General.
7. Any financial operations relating to the Commission and its subsidiary bodies shall be governed by the appropriate provisions of the Financial Regulations of the Organization. Expenses incurred by representatives of Members of the Commission, their alternates or advisers, when attending sessions of the Commission or its subsidiary bodies, as well as the expenses incurred by observers at sessions, shall be borne by the respective governments or organizations.
8. The Commission may adopt and amend its own rules of procedure which shall come into force upon approval by the Director-General, subject to confirmation by the Council.
46. The Council stressed the crucial importance of adequate supplies of farm inputs, especially fertilizers, at reasonable prices, to food crop production in developing countries and noted that the shortage of fertilizer supplies was as critical as that of food supplies.
47. The Council also stressed that, in view of the high priority of the Commission on Fertilizers, adequate funds should be made available within the Regular Programme Budget, to cover the cost not only of convening its sessions, but also of the studies to be undertaken according to its terms of reference. The Council was informed that for 1974–75 the cost would be accommodated within the proposed Programme of Work and Budget.
48. The Council noted with satisfaction that the work of the Commission would be carried out in cooperation with the fertilizer industry, the Committee on Agriculture, UNIDO, IBRD and UNCTAD, as well as other interested Agencies.
49. The Council agreed that the Agenda for the first session of the Commission should contain the following items:
Review of current market situation, trends and prospects for fertilizer supplies and prices;
Assessment of measures, required in developing countries (i)to fully utilize existing capacities and, (ii)to expand existing capacities;
Review of studies on availability and prices of raw materials in finished fertilizers in selected regions in order to determine the implications of long-term trends for developing countries;
Study of maritime shipping capacities and freight rates.
Item (b) was considered to be a major item on the Commission's agenda.
50. The Council requested that the first session of the Commission on Fertilizers precede the convening of the proposed World Food Conference so as to assist it in the best possible manner in its activities.
51. Introducing this item, the Chairman of the Programme Committee explained that the Committee had considered, in its preliminary form, the proposal in document CL 61/7. This contained a plan for recording FAO's research activities based on requests from the Programme Committee and the Council for FAO to prepare a research project register.
52. The Programme Committee had recommended the implementation of the proposal submitted to it but asked that its title be changed to “FAO Activities Related to Agricultural Research” because the Organization was mainly concerned with stimulating agricultural research rather than undertaking research of its own accord. The Programme Committee had also requested FAO to be very selective in screening the activities recorded in the register of research projects, and had suggested that research should be more narrowly defined.
53. The Programme Committee believed that the proposed register would be an adequate contribution to clarifying FAO's activities in fields related to research, and had requested that the first draft of the register should be completed in time for its next session to review and make recommendations as to further action to the Council.
54. The Programme Committee was of the opinion that research could make a significant contribution to accelerating agricultural progress in developing countries, and for this reason felt that general aspects of research could be one of the main subjects at a future Conference.
55. The Council noted the above opinions expressed by the Programme Committee.
1 CL 61/3, CL 61/3-Corr.1, CL 61/7, CL 61/7-Corr. 1 and CL 61/PV/6.
56. The Council reviewed the progress report presented by the Director-General on the developments in the implementation of AGRIS together with the comments thereon made by the Programme and Finance Committees. The Council also noted that some twenty governments had already answered the questionnaire which the Director-General had addressed to them - together with a circular letter on the AGRIS project and specimen copies of an experimental issue of AGRENDEX (Current Awareness Service of AGRIS - Level One) - and that other answers were forthcoming. Several members indicated that their countries had prepared detailed comments on the AGRIS project and the experimental issue, which they would be ready to present during the Conference.
57. The Council therefore expressed the view that the proper forum for a more complete discussion and review of the AGRIS project would be the Conference (Commission II) and that the Council views, the progress report prepared by the Secretariat, and the guidelines provided by the Programme and the Finance Committees, which the Council endorsed, would constitute a good basis for such a review by the Conference.
58. The Council reiterated its support for the AGRIS project, which was of interest to all countries, particularly the developing countries, and expressed its satisfaction for the progress achieved so far and for the concrete demonstrations of interest and support on the part of many countries and institutions during the study and experimental phases. It expressed the hope that such support and active participation would be continued.
59. Several members indicated that their countries intended to pursue their collaboration and continue their support and had already so indicated in their answers to the Director-General's questionnaire. Some members from developing countries indicated that their governments had designated or intended to set up specific institutions, such as National Documentation Centres in Agriculture, to serve as input/output and liaison centres with AGRIS.
60. The Council received additional information on certain specific questions raised by several members, especially as regards:
the interest demonstrated for, and the part already played in, the project by developing countries,
the recommendations made by experts from these countries at a recently convened AGRIS meeting,
the technical assistance provided and planned to help developing countries in improving their documentation services in the agricultural fields, i.e. to permit active participation in AGRIS,
the contribution that the already existing specialized information services were expected to play in AGRIS,
the proposed time-table and the preparatory activities planned before the operational phase for AGRIS - Level One, expected to start in January 1975,
the support received and expected for “pilot projects” of AGRIS - Level Two (networks of specialized services),
the inter-relationships and integrated development planning of the AGRIS and the CARIS (Current Agricultural Research Information System) projects,
the steps taken to negotiate the participation and contribution of non-Member nations.
1 CL 61/3, paras. 2.62 to 2.70 and 3.161 to 3.168 and C 73/18
61. As regards the financial implications of the AGRIS project, the Council noted that for AGRIS - Level Two they would be very limited for the Organization, its essential role being one of promotion of cooperative undertakings by groups of specialized information centres.
62. For AGRIS - Level One, the Council noted that:
for the 1974–75 biennium, extra-budgetary resources, complementing the provisions proposed under the Regular Programme, were expected, and already secured in part, to cover central coordinating costs. Extra-budgetary resources were also expected to cover central processing costs in 1975 and would be negotiated after the Conference had approved the budget;
in his proposals for the 1976–77 biennium, the Director-General would consider including provision to fully cover the coordinating costs and was seeking advice from the Conference as regards the inclusion of central processing costs (as one of the alternatives mentioned in document C 73/18).
63. The Council recognized that the adequacy of resources for and the modalities of financing the AGRIS project warranted a careful review by the Conference, in order to guarantee the continuity of the project once started, and agreed with the recommendations of the Programme and Finance Committees that this problem should be kept under constant review in the future.
64. The Council was informed of the outcome of the review of the SAA/FAO Country Representative system, conducted by a consultant who had been appointed jointly by the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme and the Director-General.
65. The Council noted that the concept and basic provisions of the Memorandum of Understanding would continue without any essential change, it being understood that there should be a continuous review and evaluation of the scheme leading to improvements as and when required.
66. The Council was further informed on the latest consultations, which took place after the Twenty-Fourth Session of the Programme Committee, between the two Organizations and took note of the progress made in improvements in administrative and personnel procedures related to the operation of the scheme.
67. The Council noted that the Programme Committee at its Twenty-Fourth Session had reviewed additional detailed information of the Joint Division's programme of work. The Council noted further that the Programme Committee would deal with the matter again at one of its future sessions.
68. The Council was informed that the Secretariats of FAO and of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) were about to finalize several cooperative projects aiming at strengthening the FAO Regular Programme activities in the areas recommended by the UN Conference on the Human Environment. The regulations of the Environment Fund did not make provision for payment of the overall infrastructure costs to the agencies for these projects. A decision was therefore urgently needed by the Council and the Conference regarding the proposed strengthening of the FAO mechanism of coordination and cooperation with UNEP 1 in order to enable FAO to have the minimum infrastructure required for the programme and administrative support to these projects.
1 CL 61/3, CL 61/3-Corr. 1, CL 60/3, C 73/32 and CL 61/PV/7.
2 CL 61/3, CL 61/3-Corr. 1 and CL 61/PV/7.
3 CL 73/21, C 73/21-Sup. 1 and CL 61/PV/7.
69. The Council reviewed a proposal for an integrated programme framework for the cooperative activities of FAO and UNEP 2. Stressing the importance of the FAO role in the field of protection of natural resources and the environment, the Council supported the active participation and collaboration with UNEP. It recognized that the priorities as proposed in the programme framework adequately reflected both those indicated by the FAO governing bodies in this area as well as those of the Governing Council of UNEP. The Council therefore agreed that this programme framework should constitute the basis for developing further FAO/UNEP cooperative activities and requested the Director General to provide at the next sessions of the Council and the Conference more details on the implementation of specific programmes and projects within this framework.
70. The Council recognized that the Inter-Departmental Working Group on Natural Resources and the Human Environment had so far proved to be an efficient and dynamic mechanism for internal coordination and cooperation with UNEP, and recommended that it be adequately supported and stimulated for furthering such cooperation. There was a general agreement on the proposal to make provision for a minimum support infrastructure for FAO/UNEP cooperation in the Regular Programme and Budget. Some member however stressed that such provision should not aim at undertaking new activities since these should be financed by the UN Environment Fund, not at covering additional administrative costs related to those new activities.
71. It was noted that further discussion on these matters would take place at the forthcoming session of the Conference.
72. Report on the Introduction of Cost Accounting in the Organizations of the UN Family. The Council reviewed progress made since its last session. It noted in particular that the UNDP Governing Council had considered the matter in June 1973 and that the CCAQ Task Force and the CCAQ itself had met in September 1973, at which meetings figures emanating from the System covering the six-month period ended 30 June 1973 were reviewed.
73. The Council noted that the estimated total cost of support to UNDP projects ranged from 20 percent to 25 percent for all the organizations participating in the Cost Measurement System and was informed that the cost of such support in FAO was some 20 percent, well in excess of the 13 percent presently being reimbursed by UNDP.
74. The Council expressed concern that a substantial part of total support costs were being met from the Regular Programme budget. The Council noted that figures emanating from the System for the full year 1973 will be reviewed by the CCAQ Task Force and by CCAQ in the Spring of 1974 and that CCAQ would include in its report to ACC an assessment of the quantitative results. This information would be available for the Administrator of the UNDP to place before the UNDP Governing Council at its June 1974 Session. The Council stressed the importance which it attached to this review and to the development of a more realistic formula for reimbursement of support costs and requested that it be provided in due course with a further report on the Cost Measurement System containing an assessment of the quantitative results.
1 C 73/21-Sup.1 and C 73/3-Sup.3.
2 C 73/21.
3 CL 61/3, CL 61/3-Corr.1, CL 61/9, CL 61/13, CL 61/16, CL 61/16-Add.1, CL 60/9(a), CL 60/9(c) and CL 61/PV/7.
75. The Council noted that, at the UNDP Governing Council Session in June 1973, several members had indicated that they, like the author of the JIU Report, attached much importance to a capturing of costs at the project level, but that CCAQ, in reviewing the problem, had concluded that modification of the System to produce results by project or project type would not of itself produce conclusive evidence bearing on the problem of providing overall support. CCAQ considered that the provision of such information was unlikely to be cost effective and that in any case the resources that would be required to produce this information were not currently available. The Council concurred with CCAQ and agreed that for the time being the System should be allowed to operate as envisaged by CCAQ, i.e. to identify the cost of support to each fund programme, analysed as far as possible by main functions.
76. Report on Communications in the UN System. The Council noted the reports of the Twenty-Fourth Session of the Programme Committee and the Thirtieth Session of the Finance Committee on the UN Joint Inspection Unit's Report on Communications in the UN system, and endorsed the opinion of the Programme Committee that priority should always be given to the programme needs of the Organization and that economies should never be made at the expense of effective and timely programme delivery. The Council noted with satisfaction that economies in communications had been effected and welcomed the proposed further improvements in communications between FAO Headquarters and the governments of Member Nations both abroad and in Rome. The Council requested that a progress report be made to future sessions of the Programme and Finance Committees, particularly on those UN Joint Inspection Unit recommendations which so far have not been fully implemented.
77. Fifth Report of the Activities of the Joint Inspection Unit (July 1972–June 1973). The Council noted that this report of activities provided both a summary of JIU reports issued in the twelve months period ending 30 June 1973 and a list of reports currently being prepared by the Unit. The Council was informed that the Unit's study on medium-term planning in the United Nations system was now in progress but that its study on the use of travel funds in FAO had been deferred to the Spring of 1974. The Council was also informed that in addition to the reports listed on page 2 of CL 61/9, the Unit had initiated an in-depth study on regional structures in the United Nations family of Organizations.
78. In connection with this report, as well as with the report on Communications, the Council wished to record its endorsement of the position taken by the Programme Committee to the effect that while the principle of standardization or unification of procedures could in general be supported, the implementation of this principle should take into account and would be limited by, the differing requirements of the various organizations of the United Nations system.
79. The Council recalled that the Conference at its Sixteenth Session had approved the list of sessions and conferences to be financed under the Regular Programme in the 1972–73 biennium. It also recalled that the Conference at its Fourteenth Session had authorized the Director-General in exceptional circumstances to convene sessions which he considered necessary and which had not been included in the list, on the understanding that such sessions would be reported in due course to the Council.
80. The Council noted that 13 unscheduled sessions had been approved and 27 sessions had been cancelled since 15 May 1973 making a total of 52 unscheduled sessions approved and 114 approved sessions cancelled for the biennium.
81. The list of unscheduled sessions approved and of approved sessions cancelled since those reported to the last session of the Council is given in Appendix D to this report.
1 CL 61/10 and CL 61/PV/7.