|OF THE COUNCIL OF FAO|
Independent Chairman of the Council: Aziz Mekouar
Democratic Republic of the Congo3 4
Iran, Islamic Republic of2
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© FAO 2005
ACTIVITIES OF FAO AND WFP
Arrangements for the Session and Provisional Timetable
Deadline for Nominations for the Post of Independent Chairperson of the Council
Nomination of the Chairperson of the Conference, and of the Chairpersons of Commission I and Commission II
Nomination of Nine Members of the Credentials Committee (Countries)
1. The Hundred and Twenty-eighth Session of the Council was held in Rome from
20 to 24 June 2005 under the Chairmanship of Aziz Mekouar, Independent Chairman of the Council.
2. The Council noted the Declaration of Competence and Voting Rights presented by the European Community and adopted the Agenda and Timetable for the Session. The Agenda is given in Appendix A to this Report.
3. The Council elected three Vice-Chairpersons for its Session: Nasreddine Rimouche (Algeria), James Melanson (Canada) and Ricardo Santacruz Rubí (Guatemala).
4. The Council elected Mr Willem Brakel (United States of America) as Chairperson of the Drafting Committee with the following membership: Angola, Australia, Egypt, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Pakistan, Panama, Romania, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States of America.
5. The Council commended the work of the Twenty-sixth Session of the Committee on Fisheries (COFI), and endorsed the report and recommendations made by the Session.
6. The Council noted the suggestion that there was a need to explore more flexible working arrangements, including Agendas, that would increase debate and achieve maximum consensus among Members during future Sessions.
7. The Council expressed solidarity with the countries affected by the Tsunami of December 2004 and endorsed the FAO’s medium to long-term strategy for rehabilitation and reconstruction of livelihoods in the fisheries and aquaculture sectors in the affected countries. It reaffirmed the leading role of FAO.
8. The Council reconfirmed the importance of implementing the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and its related International Plans of Action (IPOAs) in promoting long-term sustainable development in capture fisheries and aquaculture. It expressed satisfaction with the initiative of FAO to put higher priority on small-scale fisheries and aquaculture, and requested that appropriate resources be allocated to these areas within the Fisheries Department budget.
9. The International Guidelines for the Eco-labelling of Fish and Fishery Products from Marine Capture Fisheries were endorsed by the Council. While recognizing the voluntary character of these Guidelines, the Council noted that technical and financial support would be necessary for their implementation by developing countries. The Council welcomed further improvement of the Guidelines, as well as the development of similar International Guidelines for Inland Fisheries.
10. The Council endorsed the programme of work on fishery subsidies, and took note of the proposal by some Members to consider the issue of energy consumption in the fisheries sector.
11. The Council expressed concerns about the absence of consensus on the Memorandum of Understanding between Secretariats of FAO and CITES and urged Members to work to find a solution.
12. The Council agreed that Fisheries Department activities were important, and underscored the need for additional allotments to be made to Major Programme 2.3 Fisheries.
13. The Council noted the many important Expert and Technical Consultations which had been held successfully based on the previous COFI recommendations, and welcomed the proposal on the joint meeting of the Secretariats of the tuna regional fisheries management organisations and their members to be held in 2007 in Japan.
14. The Council agreed that it was necessary to strengthen international cooperation, including the transfer of technology, as well as technical and financial assistance to developing states in combating Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing. It emphasized the importance of monitoring, control and surveillance of fishing activities, through, inter alia, Vessel Monitoring Systems(VMS). It noted the proposal of some Members to initiate international negotiations among interested countries on the monitoring of fishing vessels through satellites (VMS) within the framework of the Code of Conduct, particularly with a view to combating IUU Fishing, and flags of convenience in waters covered by Regional Fisheries Monitoring Organizations (RFMOs).
15. Regarding the development of technical guidelines or Code of Practice on deep sea fisheries, the Council stressed the important role of RFMOs as the proper framework for the adoption of binding measures. The Council urged that RFMOs’ mandates be reinforced to cover the management of these fisheries and new RFMOs should be established in areas not yet covered.
16. The Council commended FAO for convening the Ministerial Meeting on Fisheries, and endorsed the two Declarations on Tsunami and on IUU Fishing.
17. The Council endorsed the Statement of the Ministerial Meeting on Forests that called on FAO to develop a strategy for international cooperation on wildland fire; assist countries to improve domestic forest law enforcement and governance and, to this end, promote international cooperation to support international trade in timber and forest products from legally-harvested and sustainably-managed forests; expand capacity-building for sustainable forest management; and play a central role in the International Arrangement on Forests (IAF).
18. The Council endorsed the Report of the Seventeenth Session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO), as well as the proposed FAO programme of work in Forestry included in the Medium-Term Plan 2006-11 and commended FAO for the high quality of the “State of the World’s Forests 2005” report.
19. The Council requested FAO to strengthen the Regional Forestry Commissions in order to boost national implementation of sustainable forest management through action-oriented dialogue and regional cooperation, as well as the implementation of the proposals for action of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF), the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) programme of work on forest biological diversity.
20. The Council requested FAO to continue its leadership role in the Collaborative Partnership on Forests, and to strengthen its activities in the areas of monitoring, assessment and reporting on forests at the national, regional and international levels.
21. The Council expressed its satisfaction with the cooperation between FAO and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) Steering Committee with regard to including foresty within the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme of NEPAD.
22. The Council requested FAO to initiate the development of Voluntary Guidelines on Wildland Fire Management; and to increase its contribution to country efforts in forest rehabilitation and landscape restoration, including in low-forest cover countries and in areas affected by the Tsunami in December 2004.
23. The Council requested FAO to enhance the contribution of sustainable forest management in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and in alleviating poverty, and endorsed FAO’s work to support national capacities to sustainably manage forests, including through the National Forest Programme Facility.
24. The Council noted with concern that resources allocated for forests appeared to be insufficient to cover new priority areas and emerging issues identified by the Committee, especially those related to the role of forests in fighting poverty.
25. The Council accepted the offer of Argentina to host the Thirteenth World Forestry Congress in 2009, noting that the Congress was a partnership between FAO and the Host Country, with financial support provided by the Host Country.
26. The Council endorsed the report of the Sixty-fifth Session of the Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP).
27. The Council noted the continuing decline in real prices of agricultural commodities, impacting negatively on the earnings of agricultural exporters, and causing particular hardship for developing countries with a high level of dependence on commodity exports. The Council recognized that the result of negotiations within the framework of the Doha Development Agenda would play a significant role in the development of agricultural commodities, especially for developing countries. The Council expressed appreciation for the work of the Secretariat in assisting Member Nations address commodity problems. It noted particularly contributions made by the new publication “State of Agricultural Commodity Markets”, the development of the new commodity simulation model (COSIMO) for improved analysis of global commodity markets, the development of Agricultural Policy Indicators to measure the impact of agricultural policies, continuing analyses of trade policy reform, and work on strategies for commodity risk management. Some Members urged the Secretariat to take account of the impact which its publications could have and noted the value of adherence to a sound communications policy, which needed to be sensitive to global developments and to the needs of Member Nations. The Council encouraged the Secretariat to continue to cooperate in these undertakings with other organizations in order to gain maximum leverage from the limited resources and expertise available.
28. The Council endorsed the proposal for an International Year of Natural Fibres, but recognized that the initiative to formalise such a proposal through a resolution at FAO Conference needed to be taken by Member Nations. The Council was informed that implementing the proposal would require substantial extra-budgetary resources.
29. The Council supported the analytical work of the Secretariat on food aid, and noted that food aid issues could not be considered in isolation from broader trade negotiations in the World Trade Organization (WTO). It welcomed information that the Secretariat had already informed WTO, as requested by the CCP, that the Consultative Sub-Committee on Surplus Disposal (CSSD) could be at the service of WTO if appropriate and required. The Council stressed, however, that the future role of the CSSD could not be determined in advance of the outcome of the current negotiations of the WTO.
30. The Council expressed satisfaction with the meeting arrangements whereby the CCP and the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) had met back-to-back in the same week. Many Members expressed support for a further integration of these two Committees. The Council was informed that the Secretariat was preparing an evaluation of the arrangements for the Sessions of CCP and COAG earlier in 2005, for presentation to the Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees in September 2005. The Council also took note of the request by many Members to also assess the option of combining the two Committees.
31. The Council endorsed the Report of the Nineteenth Session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG). It gave broad support to FAO’s proposals in the thematic areas examined by the Committee.
32. The Council supported the three Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) programme thrusts and highlighted SARD as an FAO priority that should be mainstreamed throughout its programme of work. It stressed the importance of sustainable use of natural resources. It urged FAO to commit the necessary resources and to put emphasis on effective coordination in its work on SARD. While recognizing Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) as an element of SARD and the need for capacity-building, Members underlined that in FAO’s approach GAPs needed to be non-prescriptive and voluntary, and should not lead to new barriers to trade. They requested further clarification and information on this approach.
33. The Council endorsed FAO’s proposed framework for a safe and nutritious food supply, and supported the development of a strategic food chain approach with emphasis on food safety and food quality. It underlined the importance of FAO’s international standard-setting work. In particular, the Council highlighted the work related to food safety (Codex), plant health (International Plant Protection Convention, IPPC) and animal health. Some Members urged that adequate funding be provided to these areas, regardless of the overall budget level for 2006-2007.
34. The Council gave full support to FAO’s work on the globalizing livestock sector. It concurred that FAO should enhance its capacities in the bioenergy field and endorsed FAO’s proposal to address bioenergy issues through an Interdepartmental Working Group. The Council highlighted the need for capacity-building at national and local levels in areas such as bioenergy, the application of standards, the development and use of technology, multilateral trade negotiations, and integrated water management and water quality.
35. The Council expressed satisfaction with the meeting arrangements whereby the CCP and the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) had met back-to-back in the same week. Many Members expressed support for a further integration of these two Committees. The Council was informed that the Secretariat was preparing an evaluation of the arrangements for the Sessions of CCP and COAG earlier in 2005, for presentation to the Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees in September 2005. The Council also took note of the request by many Members to also assess the option of combining the two Committees.
36. The Council approved the proposal to organize an “International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICARRD): New challlenges and Options for Revitalizing Rural Communities” to be hosted by Brazil in 2006. It stressed the importance of agrarian reform and rural development for poverty reduction and for the achievement of the WFS Plan of Action and the Millennium Development Goals.
37. The Council approved the Calendar and the proposal that a Steering Committee composed of representatives of regional groups, with the full participation of the Host Country, be established immediately to support the organization of the Conference. The Council welcomed Brazil’s offer to host and contribute to the financing of the Conference. It urged Member Nations to make extra-budgetary resources available to ensure a successful Conference and to support the participation of Least Developed Countries. It recommended that communication channels and other mechanisms be developed to ensure adequate Government and civil society participation in the preparatory process and in the Conference itself.
38. The Council endorsed the Report of Thirty-First Session of the Committee on World Food Security (CFS), including the conclusions and recommendations contained therein.
39. The Council reiterated its profound concern that at the current rate of progress, the WFS goal would not be achieved by 2015. Recognizing the fundamental role of agriculture and rural development in the fight against hunger and poverty, the Council stressed the high importance of increasing investments in agriculture, of improving agricultural productivity, and of increasing market access, to be supplemented by other rural development interventions aimed at sustaining economic and social development.
40. The Council noted that a successful outcome of the current WTO Doha Development Round negotiations was crucial for the future of agriculture, food security and rural development.
41. The Council noted with concern the long list of hunger hot-spots identified by FAO. The Council underlined that food emergencies caused by human-induced and natural disasters, needed to be tackled effectively and in a timely way to offset deepening and expanding chronic poverty and hunger of a structural nature. The need for FAO’s assistance, in association with other relevant UN Agencies, in developing assessment tools that focused on needs and on the capacity to cope on the part of affected populations was also recognized.
42. The Council stressed the important role safety nets played in coping with shocks, as well as chronic food insecurity situations.
43. The Council appreciated the special attention given by FAO to recent emergencies arising from plant pests, including desert locusts, and animal diseases, as well as from the Tsunami disaster. The Council urged FAO to continue its work in these areas, including by strengthening the Desert Locust Commissions.
44. Taking into account the fact that emergencies could prove to be formidable constraints to achieving the MDGs and the World Food Summit (WFS) objective, the Council stressed that Governments needed to include disaster-preparedness and mitigation strategies in national development plans. Short and long-term measures that simultaneously addressed transitory and structural causes of poverty and food insecurity needed to be included in their efforts to reduce hunger and to attain sustainable development. While recognizing that the main responsibility in fighting poverty and hunger remained with national Governments, the Council stressed that increased international development assistance, debt relief and access to markets were, amongst others, important elements in the fight against poverty and hunger.
45. The Council welcomed the revised reporting format for the follow-up of the implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action with a reduced number of indicators. It recognized the usefulness of a good reporting format in facilitating an accurate assessment and monitoring of the implementation of the WFS Plan of Action and MDGs, as well as in enabling countries to learn from their individual experiences.
46. The Council also welcomed the outcome of the multi-stakeholders dialogue regarding the modalities for the Special Forum in 2006 on the Mid-Term Review of the progress towards the WFS Summit goal. There was general support for a broad and active participation by Governments, relevant international organizations, NGOs, CSOs and private sector associations. The Council underlined that the Special Forum should explore ways to improve dialogue, consultation and understanding among all stakeholders in halving hunger by 2015. The Council also anticipated a broad and in-depth analysis on the progress of the Plan of Action by the Secretariat for the Mid-Term Review.
47. The Council was informed by a number of Members on steps being taken to establish national alliances against hunger. The Council noted that the International Alliance Against Hunger (IAAH) reported to the CFS.
48. The Council noted with satisfaction the CFS recommendation for the FAO Secretariat to assist the concerned Member Nations, when requested, with the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the context of national food security. The Council agreed that this implementation be reviewed by the CFS when considering the progress made in the implementation of the WFS Plan of Action.
49. The Council was informed of progress in the ongoing review of FAO programmes contributing to the goals of the UN Millennium Declaration.
50. The Council was informed that the “Questionnaire to FAO Member Nations on the Role of FAO”, which had been forwarded to all Members, was to seek their reaction in time for the Secretariat to incorporate their inputs into its work on decentralization and MDG strategy, while also taking into account the revision of the Strategic Framework foreseen for the 2006-2007 biennium and any decisions on the Programme of Work and Budget (PWB) 2006-2007.
51. Members of the Council noted the paper entitled “FAO and the Challenge of the Millennium Development Goals – The Road Ahead”, as an input in preparing the Organization for its role as a major, proactive player within the UN System by taking into account its comparative advantage.
52. The Council called upon FAO to actively contribute to the Millennium Review Summit in September 2005, in particular by highlighting FAO’s contribution to the implementation of the Millennium Declaration.
53. The Council commended the work of the World Food Programme, as reflected in the Annual Report presented at the first Executive Board session of WFP in February 2005, and in the opening statement made by Ms. Sheila Sisulu, its Deputy Executive Director for Policy and External Affairs. The Members also expressed appreciation for the leadership of its Executive Director, James Morris, as well as for the work of all WFP staff in 2004.
54. All the Members of the Council reconfirmed their endorsement of the Report, as already expressed at the WFP Executive Board session in February.
55. Some Members particularly commended WFP’s dynamism, professionalism, businesslike approach, and use of results-based management, as well as its work in South and Central America.
56. Many Members appreciated the importance WFP gave to partnerships within the UN System, NGOs and the private sector. Others underlined their support to empowerment activities especially in the food for work, food for training and food for education programmes. Many Members were supportive of WFP’s work and achievements in both emergency and development situations, and especially with regard to the Tsunami emergency.
57. Some concern was expressed over the decreasing level of multilateral contributions, especially as regarded development activities, and donors were invited to provide more funding. Collaboration efforts with FAO regarding the twin-track approach, emergency food needs assessments, emergency responses, nutrition, and provision of agricultural inputs were commended. It was suggested that WFP should make further efforts to widen its donor base. The Council stressed the importance of WFP’s successful collaboration with FAO.
58. The Council examined the document prepared by the Secretariat (CL 128/12) and endorsed the arrangements proposed.
59. The Council agreed to submit to the Conference for approval the Provisional Agenda, the tentative Timetable and the Arrangements outlined in the Council document, and in particular recommended that:
60. The Council decided to establish a deadline for the receipt of nominations for Independent Chairperson of the Council at 12.00 hours on Friday 9 September 2005.
61. The Council noted that consultations had taken place among Heads of Delegations represented at the Council Session, and that there was consensus on the following designations:
Chairperson of the Conference: Viet Nam
Chairperson of Commission I: Costa Rica
Chairperson of Commission II: Armenia
Following consultations by the Director-General regarding the availability of the representatives from each country, the Council would make definitive nominations to the Conference for these posts at its next Session in November 2005.
62. The Council noted that there was consensus on designating the following countries as members of the Credentials Committee for the Thirty-third Session of the Conference: Bulgaria, Croatia, El Salvador, Indonesia, Morocco, San Marino, United Republic of Tanzania, United States of America and Yemen.
63. The Council addressed the proposals in the Summary Programme of Work and Budget (SPWB) 2006-07, together with the comments of the Programme and Finance Committees.
64. It welcomed the much shorter and analytical document, in particular the Budgetary and Financial Framework sections including risk assessment. As advised by the Committees, the Council called for further efforts to enhance the document’s analytic nature and reduce the size of future versions of the SPWB. The Council stressed the need to review the suite of planning and budgeting documents with a view to streamlining and simplification.
65. The Council also endorsed the recommendations made by the Committees for a more condensed content and format of the full Programme of Work and Budget (PWB) 2006-07, due for submission to the next Conference, including the following suggestions in this regard:
66. The Council welcomed the initiation in the Committees of a dialogue among Members aiming at possible improvements to the overall programme budget process of the Organization. While recognizing that FAO was somewhat unique in the UN System in having a comprehensive set of planning documents over different time horizons, the Council agreed that current arrangements involved some duplication. It encouraged the consideration of options to rationalize the number, scope and length of planning documents, while strengthening the link between strategic objectives and programme proposals.
67. The Council also recognized that the current practice of formulation and presentation of multiple scenarios could be burdensome on the Secretariat. In the light of recent experience, the Council underlined the desirability to find better ways to align the Organization’s planning exercises and eventual budget decisions. It looked forward to further discussion of these matters in the Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees at their September 2005 Session, based on an analysis of programme budget arrangements in comparable UN System organizations.
68. In turning to the tenor of the proposals, the Council observed that, in response to its request at its last Session, the SPWB 2006-07 contained three scenarios: Real Growth (RG) over the approved PWB 2004-05, Zero Real Growth (ZRG) and Zero Nominal Growth (ZNG). It acknowledged that the ZRG and RG scenarios were closely based on the contents of the Medium-Term Plan (MTP) 2006-11, whose substantive content had been generally endorsed at its last session. The Council also observed that the Committees had requested that a higher RG scenario of 9.25 percent be included in the full PWB 2006-07 in response to the view of many Members that the RG rate of growth used in the SPWB was not commensurate with the requirements of the Membership, particularly in achieving the MDGs. Several proposals were made, including a Zero Nominal Growth scenario presented at programme level, or equal treatment of the four scenarios.
69. The Council approved the concept of a Security Expenditure Facility to provide comprehensive coverage of staff and non-staff security costs under a new Chapter 9 of the budget, as endorsed by the Finance Committee. One Member questioned the proposed multi-biennium mechanism to carry forward under-expenditure on security from one biennium to the next. The Council was satisfied that the proposal would be further developed in the full PWB. Some Members echoed views expressed in the Committees that meeting the high and unpredictable costs of security should not be at the expense of the substantive work of the Organization. Others emphasised the need to ensure the safety of FAO’s staff whatever the budget level. The Council was also informed of efforts by the United Nations Secretariat to phase out the UN-wide
cost-sharing arrangements of the Department of Safety and Security, and to instead centrally fund these expenditures from the United Nations budget.
70. In directly addressing the financial risks related to FAO’s cash flow difficulties, the Council considered the proposal to require Member Nations to pay their Assessed Contributions without deduction of Miscellaneous Income as transmitted by the Finance Committee. It was informed that the proposal would not create a precedent in the United Nations, but instead replicate established practice at ILO and UNESCO. A few Members expressed their disagreement with this proposal because of their concern regarding the appropriateness of such a treatment in light of FAO’s Financial Regulations. The Council agreed to receive more specific proposals in the full PWB.
71. The Council welcomed the proposals for Capital Budgeting made in follow-up to Conference Resolution 10/2003 establishing a Capital Expenditure Facility. While the issue of amortization of the accrued liability for After-Service Medical Coverage (ASMC) was under the close scrutiny of the Finance Committee, the Council took note that it was briefly addressed under the Financial Framework section of the SPWB.
72. The Council acknowledged the Secretariat’s continued commitment to identifying further efficiency savings as an integral part of its management process. It noted the emphasis placed in the report of the Programme Committee that efficiency savings targets for the next biennium should be realistic and more ambitious.
73. The Council emphasized the importance of agriculture and rural development, especially in the context of the MDGs and other international commitments. This called for appropriate FAO support to Members and contributions of the requisite quality in substantiating its role as the key knowledge Organization in its mandated areas. The need to keep an adequate balance between normative and operational activities was also recalled in this connection.
74. Many Members expressed their views on programmes to which priority should be given under each scenario and which they expected to be adequately funded. These included in no particular order: land and water management and combatting desertification; the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP); the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC); Codex Alimentarius and food safety; the problem of Avian Influenza; early warning systems; plant and animal genetic resources, including support for the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources; biotechnology and biosecurity; support to the implementation of the Voluntary Guidelines on the Right to Adequate Food; FIVIMS; fisheries; forestry; organic farming; combatting desert locusts; gender mainstreaming; and support for developing countries to facilitate their participation in trade negotiations.
75. At the same time, the Council took note of the Finance Committee’s general satisfaction with the programme and budgetary provisions for support and common services in Chapters 5 and 6. It further stressed that internal financial controls should not be weakened, and administrative systems projects should be successfully completed, at any budget level.
76. In reiterating the importance of priority-setting, the Council recalled that it had endorsed basic criteria in this respect but recognized that the different perceptions among the Membership of relative priorities made it a complex issue in the FAO context.
77. Many Members fully supported the Director-General’s proposal for Real Growth or higher Real Growth of 9.25%, in light of the expressed needs from the Membership for assistance to implement international commitments such as those embodied in the MDGs and the World Food Summit target. Other Members supported Zero Nominal Growth or below Zero Nominal Growth considering the difficulty many Members were already having in paying their Assessed Contributions. Many Members did not express at this stage a preference for any specific budget level. Some Members underlined the need for continued budget discipline in each budget scenario.
78. The Council acknowledged that there was as yet no basis for consensus on the budget level for 2006-07. It looked forward to consideration of the full Programme of Work and Budget (PWB) proposals on Zero Nominal Growth, Zero Real Growth, Real Growth and Higher Real Growth, with programme-level proposals on Higher Real Growth and Zero Nominal Growth, which would lead to an approved budget at the Conference.
79. The Council took note that the two Round Tables were scheduled for the Thirty-third Session of the FAO Conference (November 2005). Many Members expressed concern that side events such as Round Tables should not be held contemporaneously with Plenary meetings to avoid excluding participation by Members with small delegations, and that they should not detract from the work of the Governing Bodies.
80. These Members encouraged the Joint Meeting to continue to evaluate, in close collaboration with the Secretariat, the number, focus and format of future side events, so as to tailor them to Membership needs.
81. The Council supported the proposal that the decision whether to hold Round Tables be taken before each Session, and that consultations with the Regional Groups should take place regarding the choice of topics for all future Governing Body meetings. Some Members expressed concern that consultations promised in the Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees in May 2005 had not occurred.
82. The Council noted that the Programme Committee had considered a number of important items, particularly: the SPWB 2006-07, the policy and operational framework of the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP), the follow-up to the Independent Evaluation of FAO’s Decentralization and auto-evaluation in the context of priority-setting.
83. The Council welcomed the summary by the Chairperson of the Programme Committee of the discussions at the May 2005 session and acknowledged the ongoing nature of the deliberations on these complex issues. It noted in particular that the Committee would continue discussions on arrangements for planning and budgeting, the policy and operational framework of the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) and the follow-up to the Independent Evaluation of FAO’s Decentralization at its session in September 2005 on the basis of further documentation from the Secretariat. The Council observed that the improvements sought in the implementation of the TCP and decentralization were linked, and stressed that the two important exercises under way should result in a more effective and responsive Organization.
Policy and Operational Framework of the TCP
84. The Council recalled the importance of the TCP to developing countries. It stressed that the outcome of the current reform effort should be inter alia to enhance the catalytic effect of TCP interventions and the sustainability of results at local level, in particular in aligning it to the expressed needs and priorities of recipient countries It should also serve to facilitate further mutually-reinforcing interactions between normative work and policy and technical advice for the benefit of countries.
85. During their interventions, Members addressed some key aspects of management’s recommendations on the TCP in the light of the Programme Committee’s observations. As regards country eligibility for TCP assistance, a range of views was expressed, from preference to TCP resources being targeted to the most needy countries to the principle that all countries should remain eligible for TCP support. As to TCP criteria, the Council agreed with the Programme Committee’s request to the Secretariat for a further review of the US$ 400,000 financial ceiling of TCP projects and their limitation to a duration of 24 months. The Council confirmed its interest in further exploring the use of TCP in co-financing, and noted the recommendation of selective extra-budgetary reimbursement of emergency TCP assistance.
86. The Council looked forward to the Programme Committee’s consideration of the Secretariat’s final recommendations for strengthening the policy and operational framework of the TCP, at its next session, for approval, if possible, at the 129th Session of the Council in November 2005.
Follow-up to the Independent Evaluation of Decentralization
87. The Council concurred with the Programme Committee’s recognition of the complexities inherent in the many recommendations made by the Independent Evaluation of FAO’s Decentralization. In noting the concerns expressed in the Programme Committee report about the management response, the Council agreed on the critical importance of making tangible progress in follow-up to this Evaluation, so as to ultimately lead to strengthened FAO action and presence at field level. Members highlighted the changing requirements at country level, including the need for a more assertive advocacy role for the Organization to ensure due prominence of agriculture and food issues in national policies and programmes, and close partnerships with other UN Agencies, multilateral organizations, donors and other stakeholders, as well as effective support to the implementation of the MDGs.
88. The Council was assured that extensive analytical work was under way to develop the management response, including: identification of demands regarding services required by Members; testing of the proposed National Priority Frameworks, especially within the context of national poverty reduction strategies in those countries where they existed; and study of other such critical aspects as streamlining of procedures and measures to delegate authority within acceptable accountability standards. The Council concurred with the Committee’s assessment of the need for a major shift in organizational culture, including greater empowerment of staff and adaptation of the Organization’s human resource management practices.
89. Accordingly, the Council looked forward to further reporting by the Committee on this issue at its next session, based on a more thorough management response that would include identification of timeframes and cost implications.
90. The Council welcomed the review by the Programme Committee of the experience of the first full year of auto-evaluation. It concurred that auto-evaluation was a valuable tool for learning and making decisions on individual programme entities and supported the Secretariat’s intent to centrally manage the related budgetary requirements for auto-evaluation. It noted the Programme Committee’s conclusion that there was no direct linkage between the auto-evaluation process and critical mass as a relevant aspect in priority-setting, and welcomed the Committee’s intention to pursue the issue of priority-setting and fragmentation at a future session.
91. As to other evaluation-related matters, the Council noted the positive comments of the Programme Committee on the evaluation of FAO’s activities in Livestock Production, Policy and Information (under PWB Programme 2.1.3). It concurred with the need to increase visibility of livestock work in the Organization. The Council also noted that the Committee had considered an indicative workplan of strategic and programme evaluations to be carried out over the 2006-2009 period, and agreed on priority-subject matters, while stressing the need for due flexibility.
92. The Council considered the status of contributions and arrears of the Organization at
20 June 2005, and noted that while the percentage of current assessments received compared reasonably with that of the previous two years at the same date, over 51 per cent of the Members of the Organization had still made no payment towards their US$ portion of 2005 Assessments, and over 56 per cent of the Members had not made any payment towards their Euro portion of 2005 assessments.
93. The Council expressed concern over the high level of arrears outstanding, noting that eighty Member Nations still had arrears outstanding from 2004 and previous years, and thirty-seven owed arrears in such amounts as would prejudice their Right to Vote in accordance with Article III.4 of the Constitution. It also expressed concern that the delays in receipts of contributions had resulted in the deterioration of the cashflow situation, causing the Organization to resort to external borrowing and thus incurring interest costs. While appreciating the often-difficult financial situations of some countries, the Council urged all Member Nations to pay their contributions in full to enable the Organization to continue to fulfill its mandate. The Council requested the Finance Committee’s further advice on the options available to it to improve the timely receipt of Assessed Contributions.
94. The Council reviewed the Director-General’s Thirty-eighth Annual Report on Budgetary Performance and Programme and Budgetary Transfers, as well as the report of the discussions of the Finance Committee at its Hundred-and-ninth Session in May 2005.
95. The Council noted that the Director-General had managed the Regular Programme Appropriations in accordance with the Financial Regulations. It also took note that full utilization of the appropriation was expected for the biennium and that transfers between budgetary chapters were tentatively forecast, from Chapters 1, 2 and 5 in favour of Chapters 3 and 6.
96. The Council acknowledged that the unfavourable staff cost variance of US$ 16 million forecast for 2004-05 had the undesirable effect of requiring a reduction in the quantity of planned programmes. The Secretariat explained that, despite sophisticated forecasting techniques, staff costs remained difficult to predict when setting the budget up to two-and-a-half years before the costs were incurred. The Council was informed that, to partly address the present difficulties, the Organization was changing the timing and scope of the actuarial valuation for After Service Medical Costs so as to better coincide budgeted and actual costs. Further measures were possible, but required approval by the Governing Bodies.
97. The Council noted that in accordance with the decision of the Eighth Session of the Conference (1955), the FAO Scale of Contributions for the years 2006-07 had been derived directly from the United Nations Scale of Assessments, in this case the one in force for the year 2005, as established by General Assembly Resolution 58/1B adopted on 23 December 2003.
98. The Council accordingly recommended the following Draft Resolution for adoption by the Conference:
Having noted the recommendations of the Hundred and Twenty-eighth Session of the Council;
Confirming that as in the past, FAO should follow the United Nations Scale of Assessments subject to adaptation for the different Membership of FAO;
Decides that the FAO Scale of Contributions for 2006-07 should be derived directly from the United Nations Scale of Assessments in force during 2005;
Adopts for use in 2006 and 2007 the Scale as set out in Appendix D. of this Report.
99. The Council noted that the Scale of Contributions as set out in Appendix D was provisional, and would be modified at the time of the forthcoming Session of the Conference in the event of new Members being admitted to the Organization.
Extension of the Appointment of the External Auditor
100. The Council recalled that, at its Hundred and Twentieth Session in June 2001, it had appointed the Comptroller and Auditor General of India as External Auditor of the Organization for a period of four years, commencing with the year 2002, and that this initial term would expire at the end of the current biennium.
101. The Council noted that the Finance Committee at its 107th Session in May 2004 had confirmed the appropriateness of the External Auditor being appointed for a period of four years with possible extension for a further two year period, following which the contract for external audit would need to be re-tendered.
102. The Council, therefore, considered the option to extend the appointment of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India as External Auditor of the Organization for a further two-year period, and adopted the following Resolution:
Noting that, at its Hundred and Seventh Session (10-18 May 2004), the Finance Committee considered the issue of the limitation of the term of office of the External Auditor and confirmed the appropriateness that the External Auditor be appointed for a period of four years (two biennia), with possible extension for a further two-year period (one biennium), following which the appointment for External Auditor must be re-tendered;
Expressing its concurrence with the above arrangements;
Decides to renew the appointment of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India, as External Auditor of the Organization, for a further period of two years, commencing with the year 2006.
24 June 2005
Funding of the After Service Medical Costs Liability
103. The Council recalled that the After Service Medical Coverage (ASMC) liability was a significant financial challenge faced by the Organization, and noted that FAO was among the few organizations within the UN System which had made progress in both recording and funding such liability.
104. Noting that the actuarial valuation was performed at the close of each biennium for the purpose of providing figures for the official accounts to be audited by the External Auditor, the Council expressed concern that the estimate had changed significantly from that provided at the time of the 2003 Conference. It was explained that the estimate had changed due to revised actuarial data, with the amount of US$30 million presently indicated for 2006-07 funding derived from 2003 data. It was further advised that funding requirements could now be higher than previously estimated due to the strengthening Euro.
105. Stressing the importance of making funding level decisions on the results of an up-to-date actuarial valuation based on the latest demographic assumptions and exchange rates, the Council took note that the Organization had engaged its specialized firm of actuaries to undertake another valuation as soon as possible, so that the results and recommended biennial funding amount for 2006-07 could be reported to the September 2005 Session of the Finance Committee.
106. The Council requested the Finance Committee to continue its review of ASMC funding in September 2005, and to base its recommendation to Council for 2006-07 funding on the latest actuarial valuation, as well as the anticipated UN Report on After Service Medical Costs, if available.
107. Several Members expressed concern that the level of extra-budgetary resources made available to the Organization had become very high in comparison to the level of Regular Programme resources provided through the Assessed Contributions of Member Nations. They suggested that the Secretariat examine the level and use of extra-budgetary resources in light of the experience of other organizations of the United Nations System.
Under-representation of Staff from One Region
108. The Council noted the serious under-representation of staff from one Region, and stressed the need for further efforts to remedy that situation.
109. The Council welcomed the Progress Report of the Inter-sessional Working Group for the Independent External Evaluation of FAO (IEE), and agreed the follow-up steps as summarised in paragraphs 13-16 of the Report contained in CL 128/15:
“13. It has become evident to the ISWG that if the IEE is to be initiated within a relatively short period after the 129th Session of the Council in November 2005, further preparatory work will be necessary. In order to allow the Council at its November session to consider all aspects of the IEE, the ISWG is continuing its work, including preparing:
“14. The ISWG is drawing up a recommended budget for the IEE, including the timing of expenditures. In this context, it may be noted that it would not be possible to conduct the IEE without sufficient guaranteed resources. Under Financial Regulation 6.7, the Organization cannot incur expenditures against extra-budgetary resources prior to receipt of funds or at least a legal guarantee that such funds will be paid to the Organization. The Council may thus wish to request the Director-General to immediately open a multilateral Trust Fund for the IEE itself as successor to the Trust Fund for the ISWG. Contributions to this Trust Fund would be solely for the conduct of the IEE and administered under the overall supervision of the Committee of the Council for the IEE in full accordance with the financial rules and regulations of the Organization.
“15. The Council may also wish to authorise the ISWG to make initial arrangements to facilitate the rapid and careful selection of evaluators and any supporting experts required for the IEE (such as quality advisers).
“16. The Hundred and Twenty-seventh Session of the Council in November 2004 noted that the IEE could also be a resource for the review of the Strategic Framework. The Council may thus wish to decide that review of the Strategic Framework await the findings of the IEE report.”
110. In welcoming the report, the Council applauded the thorough, inclusive and transparent nature of the ISWG process and expressed their appreciation to the Chair of the ISWG and to the Secretariat for their contributions which had made this possible. Representatives of Regional Groups stressed their expectations for the positive contribution of the Evaluation in further increasing FAO’s effectiveness in fulfilling its mandate. The Council further emphasised:
111. The Council considered the Report of the Seventy-Eighth Session of the Committee on Constitutional and Legal Matters (CCLM).
112. The Council approved the part of the CCLM report relating to the “Amendment to the Agreement for Controlling the Desert Locust in the Central Region” and, in particular, the new wording of Article IX.1 of the Agreement which will read as follows:
“Article IX - The Executive Committee
1. There shall be an Executive Committee composed of seven Members of the Commission, elected by the Commission at each of its regular sessions. Members of the Executive Committee shall be eligible for re-election. The representative of each Member of the Executive Committee should preferably be a locust specialist. The Chairman of the Executive Committee shall be elected by the Commission from amongst the representatives of Members of the Committee. He shall hold office until the next regular session of the Commission and shall be eligible for re-election.”
113. Concerning the other two issues considered in the report of the CCLM, the Council decided that they be further examined by the CCLM at its next Session in October 2005.
114. In accordance with Paragraphs B-1 and B-2 of the “Statement of Principles relating to the Granting of Observer Status to Nations”,20 the Council agreed that the Russian Federation attend its Session as an Observer.
115. In considering the Revised Calendar of FAO Governing Bodies and Other Main Sessions 2005-2006 (Appendix E), which was submitted to the Council for information, the Council
took note that its Hundred and Twenty-ninth Session would be held in Rome from
16 to 18 November 2005.
116. The Council endorsed the nomination of the Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Program (AIDCP) and recommended that the Medal be presented to the representative of AIDCP by the Director-General as part of the proceedings of the Thirty-third Session of the Conference.
117. The Council recalled the extraordinary work conducted by Dr. Margarita Lizarraga to promote the adoption of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing.
1 CL 128/1; CL 128/INF/1; CL 128/INF/6; CL 128/PV/1; CL 128/PV/8.
2 CL 128/PV/1; CL 128/PV/8.
3 CL 128/7; CL 128/INF/11; CL 128/INF/11-Corr.1; CL 128/PV/2; CL 128/PV/8.
4 CL 128/8; CL 128/INF/12;CL 128/PV/2; CL 128/PV/8.
5 CL 128/6; CL 128/PV/5; CL 128/PV/8.
6 CL 128/9; CL 128/PV/5; CL 128/PV/8.
7 CL 128/9; CL 128/9-Sup.1; CL 128/PV/6; CL 128/PV/8.
8 CL 128/10, CL 128/PV/1, CL 128/PV/2, CL 128/PV/8.
9 CL 128/2; CL/PV/7; CL/PV/8.
10 CL 128/12; CL 128/PV/6; CL 128/PV/8.
11 CL 128/3; CL 128/PV/4; CL 128/PV/8.
12 CL 128/4; Cl 128/PV/3; CL 128/PV/8.
13 CL 128/11; CL 128/PV/3; CL 128/PV/8.
14 CL 128/13; CL 128/PV/3; CL 128/PV/4; CL 128/PV/8.
15 CL 128/LIM/1; CL 128/PV/3; CL 128/PV/4; CL 128/PV/8.
16 CL 128/PV/3; CL 128/PV/4; CL 128/PV/4; CL 128/PV/8.
17 CL 128/PV/5; CL 128/PV/8.
18 CL 128/5; CL 128/PV/6; CL 128/PV/8
19 CL 128/PV/1; CL 128/PV/8.
20 See FAO Basic Texts, Volume II, Section L (Appendix).
21 CL 128/INF/4; CL 128/PV/6; CL 128/PV/8.
22 CL 128/INF/9; CL 128/PV/6; CL 128/PV/8.