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Major Programme 2.5: Contributions to Sustainable Development and Special Programme Thrusts

(all amounts in US$ 000)
  Programme 2004-05 Programme of Work ZRG 2006-07 Programme of Work ZNG 2006-07 Programme of Work RG 2006-07 Programme of Work Trust Fund
251 Research, Natural Resources Management and Technology Transfer 21,588 14,456 14,171 14,625 26,660
252 Gender and Population 6,058 10,760 9,839 11,510 7,396
253 Rural Development 8,580 10,912 9,489 11,682 24,021
256 Food Production in Support of Food Security in LIFDCs 11,644 11,622 11,173 12,022 59,239
259 Programme Management 8,505 8,967 8,473 8,967 0
Total 56,376 56,718 53,146 58,807 117,316
Programme Change from 2004-05 Programme of Work at MP level 342 (3,230) 2,431  
Percent Change 0.6% (5.7%) 4.3%  


Substantive thrusts under ZRG conditions

393.     Major Programme 2.5 promotes sustainable development concepts, methods and practices aiming at environmental, social and economic well-being of rural people, especially the poor. As such, it relates closely to the MDGs124 and the outcomes of key global summits. The major programme ensures FAO’s leadership in the follow-up to the WSSD125, acts as corporate focal point for SARD126, gender, HIV/AIDS, communication for development, education, extension, training, land tenure, institutional strengthening, bioenergy, geo-spatial data infrastructure, and the multilateral environmental conventions on biodiversity, climate change and desertification. It also contributes to strengthening national capacities in research and technology and ensures close cooperation with regional and international agricultural research systems through the Secretariats of the CGIAR127 Science Council and the GFAR128. It provides policy advice, capacity-building support and information, with particular focus on reducing vulnerability to environmental, social and economic shocks, and rehabilitation in post-disaster and conflict situations.

394.     Three component programmes are centred respectively on the environment and natural resources, also including agricultural research and appropriate technology application (Programme 2.5.1); people (Programme 2.5.2) - their knowledge, resources, social relations, equity and equality; and rural institutions (Programme 2.5.3), i.e. the norms, values, practices and organisational arrangements that affect how people access and manage land and other resources, implement programmes and govern themselves. In this context, programme priorities and entities have been refocused and streamlined, while improving conceptual coherence and equitably allocating programme resources. The fourth programme (2.5.6), implemented by the Technical Cooperation Department, helps to formulate, coordinate and monitor the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS).

395.     The programmes were restructured and streamlined in the Medium Term Plan (MTP) 2006-11 and further fine-tuned in the PWB 2006-07. Therefore, work in response to increased demands for policy advice and technical assistance in the area of Education for Rural People, in line with the lead role assigned to FAO by WSSD regarding this initiative, will be shifted to Programme 2.5.2. Furthermore, the continuing development of conceptual frameworks, methodologies and training materials for information and communication technology (ICT) applications and content development, distance-learning and information dissemination, and impact assessment will also be moved to Programme 2.5.2. Work to reform and renew agricultural extension systems will be shifted to Programme 2.5.3.

Programme 2.5.1: Research, Natural Resources Management and Technology Transfer

396.     Programme 2.5.1 is implemented by the Environment and Research Division (SDE) and covers inter alia: environmental assessment and early warning systems, geo-spatial analysis, tools and information systems, multilateral environmental agreements and support to national and regional agricultural research systems, including biotechnology and biosafety. In this context, SDE will maintain and strengthen partnerships with centres of excellence, policy groups and scientific and technical institutes. Work includes significant linkages with several PAIAs129, e.g. biodiversity, bioenergy, biosecurity, biotechnology, climate change, desertification, geo-spatial data, mountains, rehabilitation, as well as with the inter-departmental FIVIMS130 and SARD initiatives.

397.     The programme will respond to country requirements for assistance in areas such as: bioenergy, environmental poverty mapping, tools and systems for environmental hot spot analysis, and support to drought, pest and emergency warning and response. Support to national research systems and biotechnology applications will also address the development of national and regional capacities to assimilate existing knowledge and serve national development policies and priorities.

Programme 2.5.2: Gender and Population

398.     The work of the Gender, Population and Communication for Development Division (SDP) under Programme 2.5.2 is based upon the twin pillars of capacity-building and policy assistance to countries in the core areas of gender, HIV/AIDS and other, related diseases, and their relation with rural poverty and food insecurity. The programme will build capacity and provide tools and policy advice towards the accomplishment of the MDGs, in particular regarding the role of gender equality and mitigation of HIV/AIDS in the reduction of rural poverty and food insecurity. Within FAO and in countries, the programme will continue to ensure implementation of the FAO Gender and Development Plan of Action (2002-2007) and the Strategy on HIV/AIDS and other diseases that are exacerbated by endemic poverty. It will continue to respond to increased demand for policy advice and technical assistance in the area of education for rural people, which stems from the lead role assigned to FAO by the WSSD. Furthermore, the programme will continue to develop conceptual frameworks, methodologies and training materials for ICT131 applications and content development, distance-learning and information dissemination, and impact assessment, especially for the accelerated advancement of rural women and girls.

Programme 2.5.3: Rural Development

399.     Programme 2.5.3 is implemented by the Rural Development Division (SDA). It may be noted that COAG fully supported, at its last session, work on land tenure and rural development and related institutional issues and made a call for an International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development in 2006. The programme will contribute to both the preparation for, and follow-up to, this conference. Moreover, it will ensure the preparation and testing of appropriate policy materials and the development of methodologies for sustainable, affordable approaches for access to land and national land tenure security. Complementary outputs will support: 1) the preparation, testing and dissemination of policies and practices to strengthen SARD and sustainable livelihoods; and 2) methods for institutional analysis and capacity-building to strengthen the contribution of public, producer and community-based organizations to SARD, sustainable livelihoods for the poor, more responsive extension service systems, and reduction in rural people’s vulnerability to natural, economic and political shocks. FAO’s work on SARD, as Task Manager for Chapter 14 of Agenda 21, was also endorsed by COAG 2005.

400.     Policies, institutional arrangements and methods will be developed to reform national extension systems in line with global developments and to satisfy emerging learning needs of men and women farmers. Effective partnerships among research, extension, private and public sector and farmer organizations will be promoted. All these outputs will be generated using participatory approaches. The agricultural and rural extension and training component of entity 251A4 will be integrated into entity 253A6. Entity 253P1, through the UN System Network on Rural Development and Food Security, will support country level work including the design and dissemination of rural development and food security policies and practices.

Programme 2.5.6: Food Production in Support of Food Security in LIFDCs

401.     The Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) will continue to assist Low-income Food-deficit Countries (LIFDCs) in their efforts to improve food security, both at household and national levels. Extra-budgetary resources, largely from the national budgets of the concerned countries, will also permit to extend support to non-LIFDCs which wish to participate in the programme. A particular feature of SPFS is reliance on South-South Cooperation (SSC) as the main source of technical assistance during its implementation, opening opportunities for developing countries to share experiences and expertise in agriculture and rural development (by May 2005, 36 SSC agreements had been signed, with about 700 SSC experts and technicians working with farmers and fishermen in the field).

402.     The programme will continue to shift progressively from support for pilot activities towards assisting governments in the design and implementation of comprehensive National Food Security Programmes. Activities will also be broadened so that they address both the production and access dimensions of food security and will be better targeted to vulnerable communities through links with FIVIMS. As at 31 May 2005, six countries have already initiated action to implement National Food Security Programmes, with over 20 more countries planning for it, creating new demands on the Organization. The aggregate funds mobilised increased from an initial US$ 3.5 million (exclusively FAO funds) to over US$ 800 million, more than half committed by developing countries themselves. A number of formulation missions will be fielded including initiation of activities in four new countries (bringing the total to 106), food security activities expanded to national level in six countries and two additional SSC tripartite agreements.

403.     The SPFS also provides assistance to regional economic organizations in the formulation and implementation of regional programmes for food security which, in addition to supporting national programmes, also address regional issues such as structural reform, policy harmonisation, removing trade barriers, ensuring food safety and control of transboundary animal diseases. The Organization has collaborated with 21 regional economic organizations in this regard.

Real Growth Scenario

404.     Under 2.5.1, entity 251A6 would be able to implement recommendations from COAG and COFO132 that FAO expand its activities in the area of bioenergy. The higher resources would allow for better inputs to the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and responding to regional and national requests for technical and policy guidance in assessing, managing and using national bioenergy resources.

405.     Programme 2.5.2 would reinforce normative activities and increase policy assistance regarding the impact of HIV/AIDS and other diseases on household and national food security. It would play a much more strategic role in the new UN system joint programming efforts to counter the triple threat caused by the combined effects of food insecurity, HIV/AIDS and other, often related, diseases, and weakened governance in sub-Saharan Africa. This includes using the relatively new and unique adult and junior farmer field and life schools, which target single parent or grandparent-headed households impacted by HIV/AIDS, or HIV/AIDS orphans, respectively.

406.     Under 2.5.3, RG would permit an expanded programme to build capacities of decision-makers in designing and implementing policies and best practices for SARD, including more detailed analysis of the issues and practical training in policy design. This would contribute to work on the three SARD thrusts, as well as follow-up to the 2006 International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, which were endorsed by COAG 2005. In addition, support would be provided for capacity-building of rural producers’ organizations and cooperatives in order to enhance business efficiency, incomes and household livelihoods, as existing capacity is severely constrained to respond to Members’ requests in this area.

407.     The increase under 2.5.6 would be used to implement one additional programme of the SPFS and one additional South-South Cooperation agreement.

Zero Nominal Growth Impact

408.     As regards Programme 2.5.1, work under entity 251A6: Support to Environmental Agreements and Promotion of Integrated Environmental Planning and Management, would be strongly reduced. Erosion of technical capacity would also occur in a core area of FAO’s comparative advantage: 251P1: Environmental Geo-Information Infrastructure and Services – due to fewer resources to maintain updated technology for the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and FAO spatial data infrastructure for early warning systems.

409.     Furthermore, reduction of resources would greatly affect the provision of information and technical assistance for capacity-building in biotechnology and biosafety (251A9). Support to networking among national research bodies and stakeholders to ensure access to appropriate technologies would be scaled down. Finally, technical assistance and advice on action-based research, the initiative to increase farmer participation in research, and efforts to integrate traditional knowledge in natural resource management would also be reduced.

410.     Under ZNG conditions, Programme 2.5.2 would have to curtail important regional activities amid new and increasing demands relating to the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic on agriculture and food security. Loss of posts associated with the Communication for Development programme would hinder the ability of Programme 2.5.2 to follow-up on the UN Roundtable on Communication for Development organised by FAO in September 2004 and to co-host the World Congress on Communication for Development (WCCD) in March 2006 in Rome. Moreover, capacity-building, policy and advocacy on ERP133 activities, already planned together with international partners such as UNESCO134, IICA135 and the World Bank, as well as the consolidation of partnerships and the support to national youth development would be severely affected.

411.     Programme 2.5.3 would incur loss of staff capacity to support countries in improving access of the rural poor to land and other development resources and services. The preparation and testing of appropriate policy materials on sustainable, affordable approaches for access to land and other natural resources and the development of methodologies for national arrangements to provide improved land tenure security would be severely restricted in two subregions. Lower staff capacity at headquarters would result in the drastic curtailment of support for policies and practices for SARD which would be implemented only if extra-budgetary resources are made available, and in the discontinuation of support for the UN System Network on Rural Development and Food Security, under 253P1. Furthermore, lower staff capacity in decentralized offices will virtually eliminate support in restructuring and capacity-building of producers’ and community-based organizations and policy and methodological support for agricultural extension system reform in these regions. All these would have a severe cumulative effect on the preparations for, and follow-up to the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development.

412.     The reduction, under 2.5.6 would imply lower targets for the upscaling of the programme and for support to South-South Cooperation agreements.

Extra-budgetary resources

413.     Programme 2.5.1 is to benefit from somewhat expanded extra-budgetary resources for the Global Land Cover Network (GLCN), poverty mapping in support of the Millennium Development Goals, environmental information systems and tools for food security, and the development of UN and FAO geo-spatial data infrastructure (GeoNetwork). Given rapidly growing interest in bioenergy, the programme will seek to bolster limited Regular Programme resources through extra-budgetary means in order to meet related demands in countries.

414.     Extra-budgetary resources will also facilitate assistance to countries to improve public awareness, in the application of biotechnology, strengthening capacity in biosafety procedures and in harmonising frameworks. Work on agricultural research, natural resources policy and planning, and ensuring linkages among agricultural research and extension institutions, is also expected to receive extra-budgetary support during the biennium.

415.     Programme 2.5.2 will benefit from the ongoing DIMITRA136 project which supports normative work across all entities. The continued refinement and dissemination of the SEAGA137 programme, and FAO's efforts to mitigate the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on agricultural production and household food security may also be facilitated by the framework agreement with Norway and, possibly, funds drawn from the FAO/Netherlands Partnership Programme (FNPP). Continued operational work at country level will be buttressed by extra-budgetary support, possibly through inter-agency collaboration, especially in East and Southern Africa with WFP138 and UNICEF139, particularly for SEAGA training and HIV/AIDS work. Finally, extra-budgetary funds will support capacity-building under the Education for Rural People programme and awareness on the application of ICTs for food security.

416.     Under Programme 2.5.3, a donor-funded inter-departmental project will continue to support institutional learning methodologies for promoting sustainable rural livelihoods of the poor, and working models for enhancing livelihoods in FAO field programmes and projects (253A6). Extra-budgetary resources are also expected for the implementation of the SARD Initiative and for SARD in mountain areas (253A6). Donor support will be provided for the preparation of guidelines on computerisation of agricultural cooperatives. A GEF140-funded project on conservation and sustainable management of Globally Important Ingenious Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) is now implemented by SDA.

417.     As recalled above, field action under the SPFS is mostly implemented through extra-budgetary resources received from bilateral and multilateral donors, international financial institutions and national budgets of participating countries. Africa, where the SPFS is operational in 43 countries, and Latin America/Caribbean, where the SPFS is operational in 25 countries, are the largest beneficiaries of this extra-budgetary funding.


124 Millennium Development Goals

125 World Summit on Sustainable Development

126 Sustainable agriculture and rural development

127 Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research

128 Global Forum for Agricultural Research

129 Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action

130 Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System

131 Information and communication technology

132 Committee on Forestry

133 Education for Rural People

134 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

135 Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture

136 Rural Women and Development (FAO/King Baudouin Foundation)

137 Socio-economic and Gender Analysis Programme

138 World Food Programme

139 United Nations Children’s Fund

140 Global Environment Facility

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