PC 92/INF/5

Programme Committee

Ninety-Second Session

Rome, 27 September – 1 October 2004

Possible Timetable for Revision
of the FAO Strategic Framework 2000-2015

Table of Contents


1. In paragraph 142 of the FAO’s Strategic Framework 2000-2015 (SF) document, anticipation of a desirable mid-term revision was made, as follows:

While the Strategic Framework has a time frame of 10 to 15 years, it is recognized that it may need to be updated periodically - either because of major events on the international scene (e.g. key international conferences) or because of the changing internal and external environment. In this regard, it is considered that the time frame for the strategies addressing cross-organizational issues is generally shorter than for those addressing Members' needs. Therefore, without intending to be too prescriptive, a revision every six years or so may be appropriate but this will be subject to review closer to the time.

2. In effect, in endorsing the SF in November 1999, the Conference:

agreed that both experience in implementation of the Strategic Framework and significant changes in the external environment would warrant its revision at appropriate times.

3. More recently, the Committee at its last session of May 2004:

confirmed the continued validity of FAO’s Strategic Framework 2000-2015 which, while not a priority-setting instrument per se, provided a solid vision for the work of the Organization over the longer term. The Committee recognized that renewed discussion among Members of major challenges facing FAO was particularly germane to the intended mid-term review of the Strategic Framework and requested the Secretariat to present at its next session a possible time table for such an exercise.

4. In response to the latter request, the present information document has been prepared for the Programme Committee.

Assessment of the Usefulness of the SF

5. The SF was conceived – and endorsed by the Conference – as a policy document which responded to the outcome of the World Food Summit and its Plan of Action. The Plan of Action was essentially addressed to Governments and hence there was a need for the Membership to reach agreement on the focus of FAO’s efforts in supporting them in meeting their commitments under the Plan. At the same time, it enabled the Organization to bring itself more in line with best practice in “strategic planning”, as pursued by governmental or private institutions.

6. Close to five years since its adoption in November 1999, it may be pertinent to assess whether the document has met the expectations of both the Membership and the Secretariat as a framework for FAO’s work. On the surface of it, the SF has not been subjected to any notable critical views.

7. In the case of the Secretariat, it has been widely embraced as the authoritative source for strategic direction and is systematically taken into account in the planning process where it is operationalized through the Medium Term Plan (MTP) and the Programme of Work and Budget (PWB), a process that has been widely encouraged by the Membership.

8. On the other hand, this lack of explicit criticism is not necessarily an unqualified indicator of its usefulness and, in any case, would appear to gloss over some of the obvious difficulties that stem from its existence, such as the “tension” between inter-disciplinary strategies and the sectoral structure of the Organization. It follows that the apparent general acceptance so far of the SF as a major document to guide the work of the Organization (including through the MTP and the PWB) should not preclude an objective examination of its usefulness being made six years after its inception. In fact, the question has not been asked in such clear cut terms, either to delegations or to the staff at large.

9. Therefore, prior to embarking on any revision process, the Committee may consider it helpful for the views of the Secretariat about the SF to be systematically canvassed. This might be done through a questionnaire based survey aimed at determining whether it is, in fact, used, its influence on programme planning and whether it provides a practical and useful strategic guide for programme managers. The survey should also try and elucidate possible improvements to the SF.

10. The outcome, an analysis of the results of this survey, could lead to a similar survey to be carried out with the concerned national authorities of Members or alternatively could be addressed by Members through the normal governance machinery.

11. The type of issues which could be addressed in related questionnaires may include:

12. In the light of the eventual findings from these surveys, the Committee may engage in a thorough assessment of the usefulness of the SF at its May session of 2006 – hence, the first steps included in the attached tentative time table. A more precise and detailed time table would, of course, also be submitted to the PC at the same session, which would also take account of the outcome of the Conference in November 2005.

Scope of the “Revision”

13. Assuming a recommendation by the Committee at the session of May 2006 to go forward with an analytical and consultative process aiming at approval of final texts by the Conference in November 2007, mirroring the process used for the original SF – which it may be recalled was developed during the 98-99 period, with the final version approved by the Conference in November 1999 – the scope of such revision exercise is another key aspect to address.

14. One possible approach to a “revision” would lead to a completely reformulated SF, with a new time horizon extending for instance to the year 2023. It may be recalled in this connection that the initial SF formulation process entailed thorough analyses of various types, as recommended in strategic planning literature (e.g. of external challenges, of internal strengths and weaknesses, of potential partnerships, etc.) and extensive consultations with stakeholders, including with Members individually and collectively in the appropriate FAO fora.

15. Another approach is to keep to the same time horizon as the original SF, while assessing the continued validity of its contents in the light of events in the intervening period. Hence, the present formulations of the values, mission and vision statements for the Organization, and of the strategies and objectives would be reviewed and proposals made to Members for the changes – including possible deletions and additions – as deemed necessary. This approach would seem to call for a somewhat lighter analytical and consultative process than under the preceding one. While it will not be possible to provide a definite answer to this question until the results of the above-mentioned survey have been reviewed, the Secretariat assumes that this is the approach which Members would favour as the intended “revision” of the SF. The timetable in Annex has been formulated on that basis.



Possible Milestones and Timetable for Revision of the SF

Step Involved Parties Timing
Survey among FAO staff Secretariat Oct. – Dec. 2005
Survey with national authorities about the usefulness of the SF for the Governance Process (optional step depending on outcome of the step above)
  • Secretariat (for preparation of questionnaire and analysis of results)
  • Member Nations
Oct. 2005 – Feb. 2006
Analysis of results submitted to and discussed by PC; final recommendation and more detailed timetable to be approved PC May 2006
Analytical process aiming at identifying required textual changes to the SF (reflecting new developments and challenges, etc.) Secretariat June – Dec. 2006
Consultations with partners requesting their advice (e.g. UN system, IFIs, NGOs, Civil Society, etc.) Secretariat and Partners Sep. – Oct. 2006
Proposed changes to the SF of relevance to COAG, COFI and COFO (if warranted) COAG, COFI and COFO Sessions in early 2007
Consideration of proposed changes to the SF (first draft) PC, FC and Council May and June 2007
Final revisions to the SF to Conference for approval Conference Nov. 2007
Publication of Revised FAO 2000 Strategic Framework (2000-2015) with wide distribution to Members and Partners Secretariat Jan. 2008