Rome, 29 November – 10 December 2003
STATEMENT BY THE DIRECTOR-GENERAL
Mr Chairman of the Conference,
Mr Independent Chairman of the Council,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The World Food Summits of 1996 and 2002 in Rome set and reaffirmed the objective of halving the number of hungry by 2015.
Given the continuing unacceptable existence of undernourishment in a world that has abundant resources and the risk of not achieving our objective before 2150, we need to mobilize the political will of national policy-makers and the energy of civil society, as well as bilateral and multilateral resources.
That is the backdrop against which the proceedings of this thirty-second session of your Conference should unfold.
State of food insecurity
While in the last ten years the number of hungry people has fallen by more than 80 million in 19 developing countries, it has regrettably increased in many others.
The countries posting good results are to be found in all the developing regions: one in the Near East, five in Asia and the Pacific, six in Latin America and the Caribbean and seven in sub-Saharan Africa. These include both relatively prosperous large countries such as Brazil and China, in which the levels of undernutrition at the start were moderate, as well as smaller countries where hunger was more generalized, such as Guinea, Namibia, Sri Lanka and Chad.
However, the worldwide number of undernourished people only fell by 19 million between 1990-1992 and 1999-2001. The annual reduction will thus have to be raised to 26 million, if the objective of the World Food Summit is to be achieved – that is 12 times greater than the present rate of 2.1 million.
This effort is all the more necessary as the number of undernourished people in the developing world seems to have stopped falling and to be on an upturn. In the first half of the 1990s, the number of people suffering chronic hunger had fallen by 37 million, but since 1995-1997, an additional 18 million people have joined the ranks of the hungry.
In 1999-2001, there were 842 million undernourished people in the world, with 798 million in the developing countries, 34 million in the countries in transition and 11 million in the developed countries.
There are a number of factors that differentiate countries with good results from countries whose efforts have failed. Countries that have managed to reduce hunger have experienced more rapid economic growth, especially in agriculture, slower population growth and lower levels of HIV/AIDS infection. They also placed higher in the UNDP's Human Development Index.
Agricultural and food production and trade
Global cereal production for 2003/04 is evaluated at 1 874 million tonnes which remains below expected requirements. For the fourth consecutive year, therefore, 2004 will also see a draw-down of stocks.
As in previous years, the bulk of the reduction in world stocks will be due to the lowering of reserves in China, which alone has accounted for almost 80 percent of the overall reduction in cereal stocks (288 million tonnes since 1999), as a result of deliberate national policy to downsize cereal inventories by increasing exports.
Agricultural commodity prices generally fell during the second half of the decade, although some prices, such as those of wheat and oil crops, did firm up between 2001 and 2002.
Global agricultural exports declined in value between 1997 and 2001, with agricultural trade accounting for less than 7 percent of total merchandise trade, thus confirming its long-term downward trend.
Much still remains to be done to correct the imbalances and inequities of trade in food and agriculture. Even countries with large increases in external trade have not seen any increase in overall growth or gross domestic product. This is a matter that needs to be addressed by the international community.
The considerable gains in productivity that are made possible with modern agriculture, coupled with the strong subsidy and support systems that exist in the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), have exerted downward pressure on international cereal prices. While falling food prices have had some positive effects on importing countries, they have nevertheless often contributed towards the impoverishment of small farmers in developing countries.
At the recent meeting of the World Trade Organization in Cancun, Mexico, FAO urged countries to dismantle barriers to fair international trade. It reminded the international community of the dual need to reduce poverty and to strengthen food security, and of the importance of multilateral trade to achieve these objectives. Multilateral trade talks are the only way of reaching fairer solutions. FAO therefore urges countries to quickly resume the discussions that ran aground in Cancun.
Livestock production and trade
World livestock production in 2003 is estimated at 249.1 million tonnes of meat and 599.1 million tonnes of dairy products, and continues to grow significantly faster than agricultural production as a whole, today representing 45.2 percent of aggregate agricultural GDP (US$1 290 billion in 2002). However, livestock trade is often disrupted by outbreaks of infectious disease.
Fish production and trade
World fish output now stands at approximately 130 million tonnes, of which about 30 percent is from aquaculture, a sub-sector under continuous expansion. Total world trade of fish and fish products has attained an export value of US$55 billion, up 8 percent since 1998. This increase is largely due to an increase in the volume of trade. However, prices of major fish products have fallen marginally and prices of fish feed have dropped sharply. At the same time, fish imports have reached a new high of US$60 billion, over half of this value accounted for by developing countries.
FAO's Global Forest Resources Assessment 2000 reports a further loss of global forest cover. This loss of 9.4 million hectares between 1990 and 2000 is equivalent to 0.2 percent of total cover and occurred mainly in Africa and South America.
Trade in forest products contributes handsomely to international trade, with world exports in 2001 valued at US$141 billion and imports at US$131 billion. Innovative developments are taking place to address the economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainable forest development, taking into consideration the multiple functions of forests. There is great interest in ongoing work on criteria and indicators and on the certification of sustainable forest management practices and forest products entering international trade.
FAO and international partners have initiated an analysis of the interface between trade and forestry development. This study should determine how trade can promote sustainable management practices in the forestry sector. Practices that distort markets need to be revised and non-tariff barriers need to be reduced to improve market access. Producer countries, particularly in the tropics, should be encouraged and supported in their efforts to make sustainable use of their forest resources, in order to stimulate economic development.
Furthermore, we should not forget that improved community forestry and local forest industries can also contribute significantly to poverty reduction.
Crises and emergency situations
In October 2003, the number of countries facing serious food shortages and requiring international assistance stood at 38. Twenty-three of these were in Africa, eight in Asia, five in Latin America and two in Europe. Although adverse weather conditions are often behind many of these emergency situations, human-caused disasters are also a major factor. Civil strife or the existence of internally displaced people account for more than half of reported food emergencies in Africa today. These same factors have also affected two countries in Europe.
The 2003 report on the state of food insecurity in the world indicates that 65 to 80 percent of food emergencies are caused by drought and flooding – hence the importance of small water harvesting, irrigation and drainage works in developing countries, especially in Africa and the Caribbean.
The Global Information and Early Warning System and the World Food Programme (WFP) alert the international community to impending emergency situations. That was the case in Southern and East Africa in 2003, where WFP mobilized – in addition to existing pipelines – a volume of 584 000 tonnes (US$345 million) for Southern Africa and 837 000 tonnes (US$430 million) for East Africa.
This month in Iraq, while the "Oil-for-Food" programme is being phased out, FAO is completing its field activities in the three northern Governorates. In the south and centre, contracts issued by the former Iraqi government for the provision of agricultural inputs, at a value of US$711 million, have been renegotiated. FAO has also initiated projects for the supply of fertilizer, herbicide and fungicide for wheat and barley crops, and for the distribution of more than 18 million doses of vaccine to prevent serious animal disease, together with 17.5 million hatching eggs and 72 000 tonnes of feed to support the poultry sector.
But where does that leave the country in terms of long-term agricultural development? A three-year programme has been drawn up for the rehabilitation of agriculture in the three northern Governorates in order to move from emergency assistance to activities to reinforce the agricultural sector and support its workforce, with a special focus on the most vulnerable groups. A strategy has also been developed for transition from relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction to sustainable agricultural development in Iraq, while a comprehensive needs assessment has been carried out on food security, water resources and agriculture. This assessment, undertaken in the framework of the United Nations Development Group and in cooperation with relevant Iraqi ministries, WFP, the World Bank and selected regional organizations, was presented by FAO at the Donors' Conference that was held in Madrid on 23 and 24 October 2003.
As regards the West Bank and Gaza Strip, FAO sought a contribution from the international community under the Consolidated Inter-Agency Appeal that was launched by the United Nations last November. FAO's actions aim to prevent further degradation of the nutritional status of the population and to prevent the agricultural economy from collapsing. In order to compensate for the absence of sufficient household income, FAO will integrate income and employment generating activities into its agricultural rehabilitation efforts.
In Afghanistan, FAO is currently implementing 21 short-term and 8 long-term projects with a total value of almost US$41 million, provided by 12 donors and FAO's Technical Cooperation Programme. FAO has delivered 4 000 tonnes of wheat seed and over 6 000 tonnes of fertilizer to enable 83 000 households to resume farming and to help them obtain the best wheat harvest in two decades.
A national vaccination programme is targeting 8 million livestock, including sheep, goats and cattle. Some 100 000 hectares of land infested by the Moroccan locust have been treated, in spite of difficult conditions on the ground and in particular the presence of landmines. FAO is also helping to rehabilitate community irrigation systems.
Additional funds are needed to implement a general rehabilitation programme that will deal with undernutrition and malnutrition and help control animal disease, especially foot-and-mouth.
World Food Summit: five years later: commitments and follow-up
As part of the follow-up to the World Food Summits, the Organization is helping Member Nations to prepare strategies towards 2015 and medium-term food security and agricultural development programmes. With the collaboration of financial institutions, it is also helping to formulate bankable projects that will hasten a reversal of declining resources to agriculture.
Given this fall in funding for agriculture in the developing countries, FAO has decided to organize a number of round tables at its next regional conferences in Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean, in collaboration with the countries concerned and with the participation of the ministries of finance and international financial institutions, in order to identify the reasons for this decline in investment in the agricultural sector and to determine the measures that need to be taken to reverse the trend. These round tables should help shape action proposals that will enable the Member Nations, FAO and the funding agencies to take a fresh look at their commitments.
Several international meetings have emphasized the need to increase the volume of funds assigned to agriculture. The International Conference on Financing for Development, the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations have all underlined the need to prioritize investment in agriculture and food security. Last September, the Third Tokyo International Conference on African Development, or TICAD III, also recognized the need to give priority to agriculture and rural development.
Major initiatives have also been launched in all regions to improve food security and promote investment in agriculture.
In July 2003, the African Heads of State and Government adopted the Maputo Declaration on Agriculture and Food Security, committing themselves to an allocation of at least 10 percent of national budget to agricultural and rural development within five years.
In Latin America, Brazil, Mexico and Uruguay have embarked on ambitious national food security programmes. At the time of his investiture, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva launched the "Zero Hunger" programme, with the full backing of FAO. He has subsequently proposed that the Brazilian experience be replicated in other countries and that a Global Hunger Fund be set up with the participation of developed and developing countries, private institutions and civil society.
In Asia, Pakistan and China have announced their decision to launch national programmes to improve food security. Similarly, in the Near East, Algeria has established a unilateral trust fund of US$30 million to establish a national agricultural development and food security programme, linked to FAO's Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS).
I am confident that other nations will seek to emulate the outstanding examples set by these countries in the fight against hunger.
FAO's cooperation with the World Bank and other international financing institutions has been strengthened. FAO helped to bring together senior executives from these institutions to share their views on how best to revive investment in agriculture and rural development. FAO was also invited by the World Bank to help with the formulation and implementation of its new rural development strategy.
Collaboration with the financing institutions resulted in 2001-2002 in the formulation of 117 investment projects by FAO's Investment Centre, for a total value of more than US$4.7 billion, including some US$3.4 billion as loans.
The perspective of several bilateral donors has changed as a result of the World Food Summit: five years later (WFS:fyl) and other major international meetings. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), for example, has established a conceptual framework for planning its agricultural and rural development programmes and has decided to step up its support to this sector. In total, CIDA investment in the agricultural sector should therefore increase from 95 million Canadian dollars in 2001-2002 to 300 million in 2005-2006 and should top 500 million in 2007-2008.
Another outcome of WFS:fyl has been the work of the Intergovernmental Working Group charged with drafting voluntary guidelines for the gradual realization of the right to food. Once adopted, these guidelines will enable FAO Member Countries to establish legal bases for the attainment of food security for all and to determine the accountability of players in the implementation of appropriate policies.
FAO's policy assistance to developing countries aims to reinforce coherence between strategies, policies and field programmes. It also seeks to help countries make the best possible decisions regarding investment, in order to make optimal use of their limited financial and human resources. More recently, FAO has placed stronger emphasis on resource mobilization in order to respond better to specific country needs.
After the WFS:fyl, FAO organized several meetings with regional development banks and regional economic organizations to jointly identify practical strategies to achieve the Summit's objectives. Several national food security programmes have been elaborated and some are already operational.
FAO has supported the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) since its inception in 2001. In 2002, in consultation with other partners, FAO helped governments prepare a Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) which provides a framework for priority investments in agriculture in Africa. The Organization is also helping the NEPAD Secretariat to determine priorities among the many actions that need to be implemented.
FAO stands ready to collaborate with member countries, regional financing institutions and development partners in other regions of the world to draw up regional strategies and programmes of agricultural and rural development and bankable projects.
FAO's special programmes
Over the biennium, FAO has pursued its operational programmes in support of member countries' efforts to combat hunger. However, country needs far exceed what FAO can provide through its Regular Programme. Countries therefore have to be helped to mobilize other human and financial resources to ensure the development of their agricultural and livestock production and their forestry and fisheries sectors.
The FAO Trust Fund for Food Security and Food Safety was established in 2002 to increase the flow of resources to fighting hunger. Italy has already committed itself to the Fund, to the tune of US$100 million (US$50 million already received), as has Nigeria with US$10 million, the OPEC Fund with US$700 000 and Libya with US$9.3 million (already received). An advance contribution of US$1 million has also been received from Saudi Arabia.
FAO has also signed cooperation agreements with other partners, notably the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the European Union, the Netherlands and a variety of financial institutions.
The FAO Trust Fund for Food Security and Food Safety is assisting the Regional Programme for Food Security in the Caribbean, the South Pacific Islands, the Great Lakes Region and the Sahel in Africa, and the Near East. It is also financing three projects to combat animal and plant disease in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
FAO's Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS), which was launched in 1995 with an initial budget of US$3.5 million, has so far mobilized almost US$548 million, of which more than half (60%) has come from national budgets of developing countries. Today, 89 countries are participating in the SPFS.
Recent evaluation of the Programme has revealed its particular effectiveness in promoting national ownership of activities and participatory processes. The team of independent evaluators also made recommendations for further improvement, including the development of a monitoring and evaluation system. These recommendations have been acted upon, and the monitoring and evaluation system is already operational.
In the framework of the SPFS , the South-South Cooperation solidarity programme has made it possible, at minimal cost, to place technical experts within rural communities for the benefit of poor farmers. Agreements have been signed with partner countries to mobilize 2 800 experts and technicians to work in the field. So far, 684 experts and technicians from countries of the South have carried out or are carrying out missions in this context. As of 1 December 2003, 284 will be in place. Thus, Chinese experts and technicians are currently working in Nigeria to improve water control, to intensify crop and small animal production, and to develop artisanal fisheries and aquaculture. Additional funds are needed to pursue such South-South Cooperation and to help the least developed countries and the small island developing states to become involved.
The Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES) continues to play a strong role thanks to its early warning function, its rapid response and activation of the network of best research centres in these fields. The main diseases concerned are foot-and-mouth disease, swine fever, rinderpest and Rift Valley fever. Desert locust control has been particularly effective around the Red Sea thanks to the training of local teams tasked with monitoring locust activity and blocking any invasion before it gets out of control.
Donors have helped to build local and regional capacity so that more precise satellite images, more effective electronic reporting mechanisms and other improved methods of surveillance can deliver timely information from the field to national monitoring offices and from there to FAO regional offices and Headquarters. In addition, techniques for the application of pesticides have been improved to reduce the quantities needed for effective control.
The desert locust control component will be extended to western Africa. Exceptional rains this summer over a vast area have given the locust a favourable habitat extending from Mauritania to Sudan and running along the Indo-Pakistan border. Extreme vigilance is required to ensure no surprise locust outbreaks.
Recent major epidemics of animal disease, such as foot-and-mouth disease, swine fever and Rift Valley fever have caused devastating economic losses. It has therefore become essential to strengthen the EMPRES livestock component. FAO has jointly prepared with the World Animal Health Organization (OIE), in a wide consultation process, a Global Framework for the Progressive Control of Foot-and-Mouth Disease and Other Transboundary Animal Diseases. This initiative targets infection at source, which is mostly in the developing countries, and will thus also benefit countries that are free of these diseases.
This Framework will also assist the Global Rinderpest Eradication Programme, whose objective is to completely eradicate rinderpest from the planet by 2010. Substantial progress has been made and now needs to be consolidated. Asia is now considered to be free of the disease and the only remaining suspect area is the Horn of Africa. If the necessary support is forthcoming, the global eradication of this disease, the second viral disease after smallpox, is within reach and FAO will do everything it can to make this a reality.
Despite the success and remarkable vitality of the livestock sector in recent years, which has provided hundreds of millions of people with a richer and more diversified diet, the sector is still burdened with multiple threats. That is why FAO attaches particular importance to helping countries tackle infectious livestock disease in order to facilitate the sustainable growth of the sector.
The Conference has received, for its approval, the text of a revised collaborative agreement between FAO and the OIE concerning animal diseases and the safety of food of animal origin. The existing agreement dates from 1954 and no longer reflects the respective roles of FAO and the OIE one half-century later. The new agreement should provide a solid foundation for strengthening synergy between the two institutions.
The management and control of water resources are central to most agricultural development programmes and are priorities of the Special Programme for Food Security. The three main thrusts of intervention are installation of small irrigation, drainage and water harvesting systems at community level, modernization of existing irrigation schemes and promotion of integrated water management.
Through the Regional Water Initiative launched in Africa in the wake of recurrent droughts in the Horn of Africa, Sahel and South Africa, FAO is focusing on the strengthening of national capacity in the area of water management. Related assistance includes the training of vulnerable groups, particularly women, in water management techniques.
The general strategy is to put in place small inexpensive water harvesting, irrigation and draining works using local labour; to improve the management and infrastructure of existing large dams and irrigation projects; and to deliver programmes of management of large river basins and lakes by establishing technical and policy-making institutions that are shared by the countries concerned. Technology for the desalinization of sea water is also promising and should be further studied and developed.
In March of this year, the International Year of Freshwater, the city of Kyoto hosted the Third World Water Forum, which highlighted the fundamental role of water in food security and the importance of adopting an integrated approach to water resources in order to combat poverty.
FAO's normative programmes
Significant process has been made during the biennium, with the signing of agreements in a variety of areas.
In June of this year, the Codex Alimentarius Commission adopted new guidelines for the assessment of risk associated with foods derived from biotechnology. It also established a further 50 food safety and quality standards. In addition, as a result of a global evaluation carried out during the last two years, the Codex Commission has modified its working procedures and is now in a position to advise governments of member countries in a quicker and more effective manner.
A Multi-Donor Trust Fund was set up to enhance the participation of developing countries in the Codex standard setting process.
FAO serves as Secretariat of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). With the growth in world trade, this Convention is becoming increasingly important in helping formulate international standards and in identifying measures to stop the spread and introduction of pests that could endanger crops. The Convention was amended in 1997 and its revised version has been ratified by 52 of the countries that had ratified the earlier version.
The IPPC is also tied to the Convention on Biological Diversity. A Special Trust Fund has been created to ensure the participation of developing countries in the main activities relating to this Convention. FAO hopes that the countries that have not yet done so will soon send their instruments of acceptance of the revised text of the IPPC.
The Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure will serve to protect people and the environment from hazardous chemicals, including pesticides. This Convention was ratified on 26 November by its fiftieth country and can therefore enter into force in February 2004.
Seven regional and subregional workshops have been held to define a new technical assistance strategy that can better respond to the needs of member countries in the above areas. This strategy will involve close collaboration with the United Nations Environment Programme.
The revised version of the International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides was approved last year by governments, the pesticide industry, non-governmental organizations, experts and other stakeholders. This is a general policy document on pesticide management.
The adoption of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture represented a major milestone as it established a binding international framework for the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources. The Treaty provides facilitated access to these resources in ways that reflect the specific needs of agriculture. It permits minimal transaction costs while avoiding monopolistic practices and ensuring a fair and equitable sharing of the benefits. The Treaty also includes provisions for the protection of farmers' rights and provides a policy framework for genetic resources held in trust by the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
As of November 2003, 33 instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession have already been deposited with the Director-General of FAO. The Interim Committee of the Treaty has also made provisions for work on the institutional arrangements for the rules of procedure of the governing body. These arrangements include ways of promoting compliance with the Treaty and the terms of an agreement for the sharing of genetic materials of major crops (Standard Material Transfer Agreement).
FAO is currently hosting the Interim Secretariat of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, a joint FAO and CGIAR initiative. This Trust will provide sustainable funding for the long-term conservation of crop collections maintained in gene banks in developing countries and those held in trust for the world community by the international research centres of the CGIAR. The genetic diversity of these collections is vital for the future of agriculture and world food security. The Trust will also support capacity building in the developing countries. Its initial target is to raise US$260 million in endowment funds.
Under the guidance of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, FAO is supervising the global process that will eventually produce the first report on the state of the world's animal genetic resources and a definition of priority actions for the better use and conservation of these resources. To date, 152 governments, including some non-FAO member countries, notably Russia, have formally committed their national contribution to this process. This is an encouraging sign that the international community is determined to curb the rapid loss of animal genetic diversity. The report should be submitted to the Conference of FAO in 2007, together with the consolidated priority action plans.
FAO continues to work with its partners in implementing the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. This Code sets out principles and international standards for responsible practices in fisheries, including aquaculture. National reports indicate that implementation is progressing well, including by NGOs.
The Agreement to Promote Compliance with International Conservation and Management Measures by Fishing Vessels on the High Seas came into force this April. This Agreement is an integral part of the Code of Conduct and is a significant element in the assistance provided to countries to regulate fishing practices and prevent overfishing.
FAO is also supporting the plan of action to reduce illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, which can account for up to 30 percent of total catch in certain fisheries and is one of the main causes of overfishing of certain valuable stocks. The sustainability of the world's fisheries resources is at stake and this matter is brought to the attention of the Conference in order to identify measures that need to be taken to counter the threat.
FAO chairs the Collaborative Partnership on Forests and, in this capacity, has collaborated with other partners in promoting sustainable forestry practices and in drafting an information guide on funding in order to link projects with potential resources of funding. FAO has launched an Internet portal to facilitate the consultation of national reports on forests and the standardization of forest-related terms employed in international conventions.
With considerable donor support, FAO will soon launch the second phase of its Umbrella Training Programme on global agricultural trade. The Programme helps countries and civil society players to better understand the new trade environment and to participate in world trade negotiations on an equal footing.
Under the first phase of the Programme, which focused on capacity building relating to agricultural trade, more than 800 officials from 150 countries participated in workshops held to improve understanding of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements that affect agricultural trade. Priority areas were sanitary and phytosanitary measures, technical barriers to trade and intellectual property rights.
FAO has cooperated with countries in the implementation of risk analysis principles, provided advice on food legislation, trained food inspectors, upgraded food control laboratories and disseminated information to farmers, consumers and food industry personnel. In 2002, FAO and the World Health Organization jointly organized in Morocco a Global Forum of Food Safety Regulators. A second forum is planned in Thailand in 2004.
FAO has also prepared a programme of capacity building in policy review and research relating to biotechnology, in response to requests for assistance received from this sector.
Since its creation, the FAO Fellowships Programme has helped organize more than 10 000 training programmes in a wide spectrum of technical disciplines. FAO has provided support to many countries in connecting fellowship holders to appropriate training institutes. The programme of national capacity building through fellowships, which was launched in 1997 and whereby costs are shared between the country seeking and the country providing training, has permitted an escalation of fellowship opportunities.
The use of distance learning techniques has enabled FAO to extend its capacity building activities to agricultural universities and training institutes. FAO has helped to build partnerships between these institutions in the developed and the developing countries in order to exchange and adapt course programmes, technical resources and research material. The staff trained by these institutions will have an essential role to play in implementing national agricultural strategies and programmes.
FAO's reform programme
In 1994, a comprehensive plan was launched to refocus, reorganize and reinvigorate the Organization. With the commitment and support of its Governing Bodies, clear objectives for modernization, cost savings and streamlining were set. FAO thus embarked on a major restructuring programme. During the period 1994-2002, FAO's staff was reduced by about 30 percent, falling from 5 560 members to fewer than 4 000. This downscaling concentrated mainly on reducing the layers of management and the number of higher-ranking posts, and increasing the proportion of junior level staff. This strategy led to a 34 percent reduction in director-level posts and a 64 percent increase in junior professional posts.
The streamlining and efficiency measures, coupled with the decentralization of activities, yielded savings of US$55-62 million per year over the period 1994-2002.
The reform of human resources management was a key element of this programme. In 1994, 32 percent of the Member Nations did not have any national among the professional staff of the Organization. Today, that figure has been reduced to 16 percent, despite the increase in number of FAO member countries (from 169 in 1994 to 183 in 2002). Of particular note is the appointment of three women to Assistant Director-General level in 2000, the first women to be appointed at that level in the history of FAO.
In order to bring operations closer to where most needed, the Organization created five new subregional offices with multidisciplinary teams to serve clusters of countries with similar characteristics. This extensive decentralization exercise produced an 81.5 percent increase in number of decentralized professional posts. The proportion of professional staff in decentralized offices to those at Headquarters rose from 20.6 percent in 1994 to 31 percent in 2002. During the 2002-2003 biennium, FAO has been represented in 131 member countries, as compared to 106 in 1994. Links at national level have been further reinforced with the appointment of qualified national professional staff, at considerably lower cost than for international staff.
Decentralization has strengthened the capacity of FAO's regional and country offices to successfully deliver its Field Programme. The Organization closely monitors progress and has initiated an evaluation of its regional offices to identify potential opportunities for gains in efficiency and savings.
FAO's country office network is now the major project executor, responsible for more than 50 percent of technical cooperation projects in 2003. While executive capacity has been improved, there is still room to enhance the efficiency of project delivery through the use of telecommunication facilities, the streamlining of procedures and a limited increase in staff resources.
Delivery of the Field Programme in 2003 should be slightly higher than in 2002 (US$189 million), while emergency assistance projects will this year reach an all-time high of about US$250 million, because of the exceptional increase in assistance given to Iraq under the Oil-for-Food programme. This means that the overall value of Field Programme delivery in 2003 could amount to some US$440 million, which is significantly higher than the US$340 million in 2002.
Like many other UN agencies, FAO has put in place modern office technology and communication systems that have enabled it to make substantial savings. Communication between Headquarters and country offices is much better and many country offices now have their own Web site. At Headquarters, there has been a significant increase in the use of information technology thanks to the standardization of hardware and software and the use of electronic mail.
The meeting rooms, lounges and catering areas have been refurbished. These works have been generously financed by many FAO Member Nations. The result is that the average age of these facilities is now barely 10 years as compared to 26 years some ten years ago. We are also renovating the David Lubin Library and would like to thank our host country and the Italian Government for financing this project.
Management, control and oversight
FAO has developed modern and coherent management processes and systems, including advanced strategic planning and results-based budgeting, and independent evaluation systems to examine the relevance and effectiveness of the Organization's programmes.
Internal control principles are rigorously applied. These measures are reinforced by the internal audit, inspection and investigation activities of the Office of the Inspector-General. External audits are carried out by the External Auditor, who is appointed by and reports to the Member Nations.
Forging new partnerships
FAO has placed special emphasis on building partnerships to improve its assistance to member countries. Over the past two years, the Organization has continued to increase its collaborative activities with a selection of regional and international partners.
Cooperation with the other Rome-based agencies, the World Food Programme (WFP), the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), is progressing in a very satisfactory manner. Numerous consultations have been held to improve the coordination of our activities. FAO and WFP are also looking actively into ways of stepping up cooperation at country level. Indeed, in addition to the crop and food supply assessment missions which the two agencies already jointly carry out, many other activities could be undertaken together. FAO is most heartened by WFP's evident readiness to look into further possibilities of working together, and resulting cooperation should lead to a significant increase in joint initiatives over coming years.
FAO and IFAD are encouraging African farmers' organizations to contribute their views to the formulation of NEPAD's agricultural policies and programmes.
New approaches have also been adopted to strengthen links with other UN agencies, development and financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the regional development banks, as well as the OECD and the European Union. Partnerships have been established in connection with the Millennium Development Goals, the poverty reduction strategies and the national food security strategies.
The Organization has also concluded new agreements with governments and institutions, especially in the framework of Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries and Technical Cooperation among Countries in Transition. Collaborative agreements have been established with universities and research institutes and for the services of retired experts. A new unit has been set up to expand cooperation with the private sector and non-governmental organizations.
Cooperation with the European Commission and Japan has been strengthened through the establishment of liaison offices in Brussels and Yokohama. FAO's collaboration with the OECD countries continues through interchanges in areas of mutual interest, such as food safety, fisheries and the environment.
FAO and the European Union recently signed an agreement to strengthen their partnership and engage in closer dialogue. This agreement should raise prospects for the long-term financing of development programmes. FAO has thus committed itself to adhere to the EU's Financial and Administrative Framework Agreement, which provides a set of guidelines to reduce costs and improve the effectiveness of joint programmes.
In July 2002, a new Memorandum of Understanding was signed with the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in order to strengthen collaboration. FAO and the GEF Secretariat have agreed to draw up a preliminary programme of work in six priority areas: persistent organic pollutants, agricultural biodiversity, biosafety, use of renewable energy in productive sectors, integrated management of ecosystems and sustainable development of environmental productive resources.
Collaboration with non-governmental organizations and civil society has been stepped up, with the adoption of a programme of action in follow-up to the World Food Summit. This has produced several practical activities, including the participation of farmers' organizations in formulating NEPAD's agricultural programme and of representatives of civil society in developing guidelines for the application of the right to food and in defining modalities for the supply of agricultural assistance in emergency situations.
FAO's partnership with the private sector has been expanded during the past two years, especially in the context of the World Economic Forum (WEF). For example, FAO has worked closely with several private sector companies, including Adobe, DeLaval, the International Feed Industry Federation, Parmalat, Publicis and Volkswagen, which have all provided the Organization and several member countries with technical and financial support.
Visibility and media activities
During the 2002-2003 biennium, FAO has continued to involve the media in drawing international attention to the problem of hunger in the world. The Organization's Internet site is accessible to users worldwide and currently registers about 40 million hits each month. The success of this site is indicative of the rapid development of the WAICENT programme of compilation and dissemination of information from the Organization's technical departments. The 6.5 million pages of information available on the FAO site in 1999 have now mushroomed to over 48 million.
FAO also disseminates information in other formats, including printed publications, CD-ROMs, radio and video cassettes, and multimedia products. This material provides important technical information to decision-makers, subject specialists and other audiences who have no access through the Internet. FAO produced a total of nineteen multimedia presentations in 2003, together with a booklet entitled FAO Serving its Members, which gives a synopsis of its main programmes, its budget and the reforms that have improved its efficiency.
World Food Day was celebrated in more than 150 countries. Celebrities from the world of entertainment and science have joined the Organization as Goodwill Ambassadors to support its communication efforts and to draw public and media attention to the problem of hunger.
In 2002, FAO led the awareness-raising campaign of the International Year of Mountains, which aimed to underline the importance of protecting mountain ecosystems and improving the living conditions of mountain people. National committees were established in 78 countries to promote long-term action for sustainable mountain development. December 11, 2003 will mark the first International Mountain Day and will be celebrated here at FAO Headquarters. The International Partnership for Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions has asked FAO to host its Secretariat. The Organization will therefore continue to work with NGOs, governments and the private sector in promoting support for mountain livelihoods, especially for the 270 million mountain people who live in developing and transition countries and who are under threat of food insecurity.
FAO is actively engaged in preparations to mark 2004 as the International Year of Rice. In doing so, FAO has responded positively to the invitation of the UN General Assembly to lead the celebrations, in collaboration with national and international stakeholders. This is a unique opportunity for governments, farmers, consumers and environmentalists to pool their efforts and develop rice-based production systems and a consumption strategy that will reinforce food security, improve the livelihoods of the rural poor, protect the countryside and safeguard the cultural heritage.
TeleFood, the awareness-raising campaign against hunger and malnutrition, continues to grow in recognition and outreach. Over 70 countries held fund-raising events in 2002 and 2003, getting FAO's message across to more than 500 million people by way of 80 television channels and radio stations.
Total donations of US$11 million have paid for more than 1000 food security micro-projects in 114 countries.
Budget and finance
FAO's Regular Programme budget has declined in real terms by 15 percent since 1994. The Organization's budget for the 1994-1995 biennium amounted to US$673 million, but fell to US$650 for the 1996-1997 biennium. There was then no increase until the 2002-2003 biennium whose budget was raised by US$1.8 million. On the other hand, there has been an increase in voluntary contributions from governments, UN agencies and international financing institutions, such as the World Bank. For the 2002-2003 biennium, projects implemented by FAO should have received financing from voluntary contributions of at least US$726 million, as compared to US$474 million in 1994-1995.
As regards FAO's financial performance, the deficit balance of the General and Related Funds has only increased slightly since the last biennium, from US$75.4 million to US$75.5 million. However, the decision taken by the Governing Bodies to no longer provide funding for after-service medical charges will mean that the General Fund deficit will grow by 14 million by the end of this biennium. The member countries need to take decisive action during this Conference to prevent any worsening of this deficit.
Agenda of the Conference
I shall now like to turn to the agenda of this important session of the Conference. Commission I will examine the initiatives that FAO has taken to combat hunger and thus gain an overview of what has been done to deliver on the WFS commitments and the Millennium Development Goals. This Commission will also look at the progress that has been made in implementation of the FAO Gender and Development Plan of Action and at the measures that have been taken to mainstream gender into development. Commission II will focus mainly on the Programme of Work and Budget for 2004-2005, and will also deal with the International Plan of Action to Prevent, Deter and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing.
Ministerial Round Tables are scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Many interesting side events are planned for 1 - 4 December 2003.
The Programme of Work and Budget
Three proposals have been made for the budget. Two of these are included in the document on the budget. The first proposal is premised on real growth of 5.5 percent above the current approved budget. The second proposal looks at the implications of a budget remaining unchanged in real terms, also referred to as "zero real growth" or the "ZRG Scenario".
In spite of the many requests for assistance that FAO receives, certain member countries asked at the last Council session that a third scenario be presented: a zero nominal growth (ZNG) proposal. This is contained in a specific Council document. For all its elegant designation, this third proposal in fact means a further budget cut of US$35.2 million for the 2004-2005 biennium.
FAO's budget has not been raised in real terms for more than ten years. Its current budget of US$651.8 million for 183 Member Nations is US$21.4 million lower than the 1994-1995 budget of US$673.1 million which was then for 169 Member Nations. During the same period, Italy’s cumulative inflation has reached 35 percent. The most important programmes have been maintained, but this has only been possible thanks to unprecedented efficiency savings and prudent management of the element of risk attached to the exchange rate.
The achievement of efficiency savings of US$50-60 million borders on the prodigious and cannot be repeated.
We are also exposed to the enormous risk associated with the impact of a weakening US dollar.
You are invited to examine a proposal made by the Finance Committee to adopt a split assessment in US dollars and euros. The advice of experts has convinced me that this is the only feasible way of reducing the risks attached to exchange rate fluctuations.
It is my duty to paint a true picture of what the Organization would look like under a zero nominal growth scenario, considering that it has already experienced a 30 percent reduction in staff since 1994. The consequences would not be limited to reductions in overall expenditure for implementation of fisheries or forestry programmes at country level. They would also entail a loss of almost 160 posts across the Organization, rising to 650 in the absence of a split assessment of contributions.
Few areas of activity would escape these cuts. The strengthening that you have requested in certain priority areas, such as the IPPC and Codex, would be affected in the same way as most other programmes, including the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, forestry management or support to international conventions. All activities would have to be scaled down.
Nor does the zero real growth scenario seem to me to be realistic under such conditions, and does not appear to correspond, from what I have heard, to the wishes of the majority of Members. However, it is for the representatives of the Member Nations gathered here for this Conference to make the best possible decision, mindful of the implications. The Secretariat, for its part, will faithfully implement the Conference’s decisions.
I should also like to stress that similar budget cuts have not been applied to all UN agencies. Data indicate that FAO has received the harshest treatment of any of the agencies with an annual budget of more than US$100 million. If we consider 1993 as base year with an index of 100, FAO has slid to an index of 96 as compared to:
At least two agencies have received real budget growth for the 2004-2005 biennium, including UNESCO and the International Atomic Energy Agency (AIEA). Zero real growth (ZRG) was approved for the ILO but in fact translates as a budget increase of US$95 million.
It is all the more surprising that governments should decide to treat FAO in this way when they agree that agriculture is the driving force of development in the developing countries.
A look to the future: the major challenges for FAO
The world now produces more than enough food for everyone to have an adequate diet, and yet 842 million people – almost one in seven – do not have enough to eat. That hunger should still exist on such a scale is thus all the more unacceptable. Technologies exist for farmers to produce sufficient quantities of food; information systems can identify where food is needed; and we have the means to move food rapidly anywhere in the world.
The existence of hunger in a world of plenty is not just a moral outrage, but is also the result of short-sighted economic policy. People who are hungry cannot work or study properly; they are more vulnerable to disease; and they die young. Undernourished children do not learn and undernourished mothers give birth to undernourished children, whose physical and mental capacities have already been compromised. Resentment against undernutrition and poverty breeds extremist action that can lead to crime and threaten national stability. It is therefore in the interest of everyone, rich and poor alike, to combat hunger, injustice and exclusion.
We know that rapid progress in lowering chronic hunger in developing countries is possible if we can muster the necessary political will. We therefore need to adopt a twin-track approach, which combines the promotion of quick-response farmer-led agricultural growth with targeted programmes that guarantee access to sufficient food to hungry people who have neither the capacity to produce nor the means to purchase the food they require. These two approaches are mutually reinforcing, as programmes to enhance direct and immediate access to food also offer new outlets for production. Countries that have adopted this approach have seen the benefits for themselves.
If investment on these two fronts is to be successful, we need to create an international and national environment that is conducive to general economic growth. At the international level, that calls for measures that will reinforce peace and political and economic stability, and a trade environment, especially for agricultural trade, that protects and supports the interests of developing countries as regards food security and development.
Reducing hunger also means ensuring that the developing countries that have committed to the WFS objectives and the Millennium Development Goals can marshal the necessary resources at national level and from donors. Additional investment estimated at US$24 billion per year could put these countries on track towards achieving the WFS objective of halving the number of hungry by 2015. The minimum gains from such investment are put at US$120 billion per year.
The Organization must therefore have the support of public opinion and policy-makers in its member countries. More financial resources from its development partners are essential if the challenges of this new century are to be met.
Safeguarding genetic resources and the natural heritage is essential for long-term food security. This will mean protecting plant and animal resources (including preventing illegal fishing), combating deforestation and forest fires, safeguarding the quality of water and analysing the effects of using biotechnology. And this means that FAO will be called upon to intervene in the legislative, technical, scientific, trade, training and information areas, at both national and international level.
FAO will be required to support countries to:
(i) increase investments;
(ii) develop agricultural upstream and downstream activities that generate income in rural areas; and
(iii) reinforce formal and informal systems that give the most vulnerable population groups access to food.
Improving the control and use of water resources is essential if agricultural output is to be increased. Apart from implementing small water harvesting, irrigation and drainage works, rehabilitating large irrigation schemes and regulating river basins, the Organization will also have to encourage research into techniques for desalinizing sea water.
The Organization will have to pay closer attention to achieving a balance between the necessary increase in production, mainly through inputs, and the protection of natural resources. There will in fact have to be an increase in use of inputs in regions where this is still limited but that need higher production and productivity.
FAO will have to concentrate on building the capacity of countries to participate in negotiations to limit the technical barriers to trade and the subsidies that distort international trade in agriculture.
Ensuring food quality and safety is an essential part of the battle against world food insecurity. Yet, the world faces an increasing number of crises resulting from new agricultural and agro-industrial practices that acquire appropriate legislative, regulatory, institutional and scientific measures.
HIV/AIDS has been especially devastating for the rural sector. An estimated 8 million agricultural workers have already died from AIDS and a further 16 million deaths could occur by 2020. FAO will have to continue to study the agricultural dimension of the AIDS phenomenon and to identify appropriate measures in its programmes and projects, in cooperation with UNAIDS.
It will also have to continue its work with WHO in dealing with food-related disorders, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and certain cancers, that often coexist with undernutrition-related diseases in developing countries.
At least 245 million people living in rural mountain areas in developing and transition countries are vulnerable or exposed to food insecurity and hunger. FAO, which acts as Secretariat of the Mountain Partnership established at the World Summit on Sustainable Development 2002, will have to pursue its activities to meet the needs of these people, while at the same time safeguarding mountain ecosystems.
About 70 percent of the world's poor live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Agriculture gives work to 40 percent of the population of developing countries, that is 2.5 billion people. Clearly, therefore, there can be no reduction in hunger or poverty without achieving the sustainable agricultural and rural development that provides income and work. FAO is coordinating the Programme of Action for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) that was adopted at the Earth Summit in Rio in 1992. The World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002 reaffirmed the relevance of this programme, which was needed to identify and implement policies and practices that were conducive to agricultural and rural development, such as integrated pest management, the utilization of bioenergy and the participatory management of forests and other natural resources of communities. FAO will have to pursue its efforts with governments, development partners and financial institutions to secure the necessary investment.
FAO is responsible for coordinating preparations for the International Year of Rice in 2004. Rice is the staple food for half the world's population, so an increase in the production and productivity of rice cultivation can play a crucial role in fighting hunger and food insecurity.
On the institutional level, FAO will continue to support the efforts of the UN Secretary-General to improve coordination and integration among UN system agencies.
The Organization will also have to find an appropriate, but flexible, balance between its normative and its operational programmes, and also with its assistance activities to national and regional policies.
The Organization will have to see that it addresses the specific needs of member countries that find themselves at different stages of development, with particular attention to the least developed countries, the small island developing states and the landlocked countries. The reinforcement of human resources is a priority in this regard. The Organization now has modern remote-training technology on hand for implementation with selected universities in member countries.
The immediate challenge for FAO and its Members is to find the means to reduce hunger and to ensure the basic human right to food. We need to act decisively and promptly to this end, so that all national and international stakeholders can work together in an International Alliance Against Hunger.