PC 94/6

Programme Committee

Ninety-fourth Session

Rome, 19 – 23 September 2005


Table of Contents

I. Introduction

1. Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Actions (PAIAs) were highlighted for the first time in the Medium Term Plan (MTP) 2002-07. Since then, the Committee has expressed consistent interest in PAIAs and has underlined its interest in receiving a report on experience with PAIAs. At its 89th session of May 2003: “Among other aspects, the Committee welcomed the intended continuation in the next biennium of active inter-departmental cooperation under the PAIAs. .... While recognising, therefore, that work under these PAIAs had only started in earnest in the current biennium and also the differences in scope and nature among PAIAs, the Committee agreed that it would be useful to review progress under PAIAs at a future session in the next biennium. It also agreed that the PAIAs were not cast in stone and that they could evolve flexibly depending on contexts and needs, which may require adjusting work under established ones or adding new ones.” This expectation of receiving a report on experience with PAIAs was reiterated at the 90th and 92nd sessions, respectively of September 2003 and September 2004.

2. This document seeks in the first instance to enlighten Members about key features of the PAIA implementation process. It provides, in Annex 2, an overview of the work accomplished in the 3-year period since PAIAs were formally introduced. It highlights some challenges in executing inter-disciplinary work through the PAIA modality of operations, and seeks as appropriate the Committee’s endorsement of possible ameliorative measures.

II. Background

Historical developments

3. The FAO Strategic Framework 2000-2015 (SF) approved by the Conference in November 1999 included a Strategy on Enhancing Inter-disciplinarity. As follow up, a two-pronged effort was launched in early 2000 to identify “Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action” over the medium term. This involved: a) the ad hoc working groups which had been active in the 1998-99 biennium in developing the five Corporate Strategies to address Members' needs, eventually included in the Strategic Framework 2000-2015; and b) inter-departmental working groups already dealing with substantive areas of common interest.

4. PAIAs, therefore, resulted from a combination of fresh thinking to address emerging problems faced by the Membership and requiring a multi-disciplinary response from the Organization, and the continuation of valuable on-going work cutting across departments. Extensive internal discussions led to proposing 16 PAIAs in the MTP 2002-07. The Programme Committee agreed (as quoted above) that PAIAs must evolve dynamically. Therefore, the list of themes has been modified according to changing contexts or the results of internal assessments. Changes led to 18 PAIAs being presented in the MTP 2006-11, while following the advice from COFO and COAG1 in 2005, an additional PAIA on bioenergy is included in the PWB2 2006-07. For ease of reference, a list of PAIAs and their acronyms is given in Annex 1.

5. It may be noted that Gender and Development (GEND) has a special status among current PAIAs, as it is governed by a specific Plan of Action sanctioned by the FAO Conference, including attendant formal reporting requirements to the Governing Bodies. GEND implementation is spearheaded by SDP3 and supported by a network of “gender focal points” in all concerned units at headquarters and in Regional Offices.

Scope of PAIAs

6. It was realised since their inception that PAIAs did not constitute a homogeneous set. As presented in the MTP, each PAIA has its own rationale, objectives and main outputs, which are further translated into planned biennial achievements in the PWB. Many of the current PAIAs are closely relevant to one of the Strategic Objectives (SOs) of the Organization, while some may cut across several SOs. Arrangements for cooperation across units clearly depend on the problem to be addressed and modalities as chosen by them.

7. Borrowing from the language of classical “means-ends” analysis, several PAIAs intuitively convey a prime orientation towards meeting requirements in countries (the “ends”) while others may be more about facilitating implementation of work programmes (the “means”). It is worthy of note that no firm criteria exist which could be applied to the selection of themes worth presenting as PAIAs in the MTP and PWB (see Section IV below).

PAIAs within the broad strategy of inter-disciplinarity

8. The PAIAs endorsed via the MTP and the PWB clearly embody significant contributions to implementing the strategy for Enhancing Inter-disciplinarity outlined in the Strategic Framework 2000-2015. However, there are other instances of activities involving well established multi-disciplinary cooperation but which are not listed under PAIAs.

9. Also, many field projects formulated and implemented by FAO are of a multi-disciplinary nature, while they may not fit into the themes covered by the approved PAIAs. There are a number of important global and regional projects financed by donors on the premise of FAO being able to bring multi-disciplinary capacities to support them. Similarly, the Investment Centre (TCI) draws as necessary on multidisciplinary inputs for its project formulation work.

10. Other examples relate to policy assistance, where the TCA division and its outposted teams in the regions need to draw on complementary inputs from various technical departments and divisions. FAO Regional Offices routinely maintain country task forces which cut across technical disciplines. The incipient system of country priority frameworks will also involve multi-disciplinary analyses and inputs.

The “PAIA process”

11. It is recalled that each PAIA is supported by an inter-departmental mechanism, either fully dedicated to the PAIA or with another mandate, but linked to the scope of the relevant PAIA. The Chairpersons and Secretar(ies) of these groups are nominated after consultations among the concerned departments and with the agreement of the Deputy Director-General.

12. At each successive stage of the programme planning and budgeting process, i.e. both for the MTP and the biennial PWB, the concerned units are invited to discuss PAIA “workplans”, i.e. the main outputs to be delivered and activities to be carried out to implement the stated objectives. To the maximum extent possible, all concerned units are encouraged to define programme outputs and secure sufficient staff time inputs to the implementation of PAIAs.

13. The corporate Programme Planning, Implementation Reporting and Evaluation Support System (PIRES) enables units to establish “links” of the programme entities and biennial outputs for which they are responsible to the pertinent PAIAs, i.e. to identify expected specific contributions to PAIAs. This aggregate picture often needs to be supported by more detailed workplanning information, as determined by each PAIA group. General meetings with PAIA Secretariats may be organised to discuss issues of common interest pertinent to inter-disciplinary work.

14. Accountability is ensured through Chairpersons submitting annual progress reports to senior management. PAIAs may also be the object of independent evaluation or auto-evaluation activities. For instance, the Evaluation Service is including PAIAs in its strategy evaluations as relevant (e.g. in the evaluation of SO D.2: Conservation, rehabilitation and development of environments at the greatest risk). Two PAIAs (BTEC4 and PROD5) are scheduled to carry out auto-evaluation in the 2005-06 period.

Need for catalytic support

15. In principle, the resources needed for PAIA work come from the resources available to all concerned units. However, there is a need for catalytic support in specific cases. Therefore, a dedicated programme entity, 210S5: Central Support to PAIAs was introduced in the PWB 2002-03. Each biennium, submissions for use of resources under this entity are invited from all PAIA Secretariats, are screened according to their adherence to established criteria and recommended amounts are submitted to senior management for approval.

Substantive achievements since the inception of PAIAs

16. As for other activities, achievements under PAIAs were briefly reported in the Programme Implementation Report (PIR) 2002-03 which the Committee considered at its session of September 2004. Annex 2 amplifies on this information by using the contents of the progress reports prepared by all groups in charge of active PAIAs in the year 2004. Because of constraints of space, the purpose is to give Members an overview of the work accomplished in the 3-year period since PAIAs were formally introduced, and not a full factual account. Many primarily “sectorial” activities or outputs also contributed indirectly to PAIA objectives.

III. Selected aspects in the functioning of PAIAs

17. A number of other aspects in the functioning of PAIAs are covered below.

Involvement of various levels in the Organization

18. As described – at times graphically – in successive MTP documents, work under PAIAs implies the wide involvement of technical departments, divisions and services at headquarters, and to a lesser extent of technical staff in decentralized structures. A telling measure of how PAIAs permeate the work programme under Chapter 2 and Major Programme 3.1 of the PWB is the extent of reported links of programme entities and planned outputs to PAIAs. In 2004-05, 68 percent of the constituent entities have links to PAIAs. Out of over 1200 planned biennial outputs, more than 500 (i.e. 44%) have links – i.e. include contributions – to PAIAs. Of course, GEND through the Plan of Action on Gender and Development has in itself a major influence on work programmes.

Coordination arrangements

19. The broad diversity among PAIAs is further illustrated by variations in the modality of support. Some PAIA working groups meet rather frequently, while others may rely extensively on e-mail networks. Several groups appoint focused and time-bound task forces to work on specific outputs. Some PAIAs have the equivalent of a “bureau” or “steering committee” composed of a smaller group of staff who meet and interact more frequently than the formal working group. Ensuring balanced participation (i.e. from all disciplines or sectors) can be a problem, especially for the smaller units. Within this broad pattern, it is customary that PAIA groups meet at the beginning of each year to review and agree on workplans for the remainder of the period.

20. In the case of those PAIAs which ensure FAO’s interface with international conventions or other events (e.g. AWTO6, CLIM7), the frequency of meetings is very much dictated by external factors, as key documents sent to FAO often require reaction or decision at short notice.

Effective use of catalytic funds under entity 210S5

21. In 2002-03, a budget of US$ 410,000 was available to provide catalytic funds to PAIAs. The additional allotments were utilised in the first instance to support the creation or maintenance of Web sites. As several PAIAs were dealing with relatively new themes, it was important to initiate wide dissemination of the useful information generated through inter-disciplinary cooperation. Other typical uses were for PAIA groups to get up-to-date technical advice, for facilitating FAO’s participation to external events or even for supporting direct field work with critical technical inputs.

22. In 2004-05, the range of uses is more diverse. After the early phase of development of PAIA pages on FAO’s Web site, their maintenance is now mainstreamed into ongoing activities. Accordingly, only GIL8 benefited from substantial financial assistance to ensure harmonisation of these specialised sites. PAIA groups received allocations in relation to the preparation and issuance of seminal technical guidelines and key information materials, the conduct of special studies, the development of methodologies, or the initial development of multi-disciplinary databases. The facilitation of FAO’s participation to significant external events or direct technical inputs to field work continued to be supported, when well justified.

Use of additional resources

23. As mentioned in Annex 2, some PAIA groups are closely involved, in terms of direct management or technical supervision, with activities financed by extra-budgetary resources. These include for instance BIOD9, AWTO and DSRT10. This association of PAIAs with field activities seems to be a growing and positive trend. It may be noted that the work under BTEC benefited directly from the additional resources stemming from arrears, as approved by the Conference.

The “ingredients” of success

24. While this document is not an evaluation of PAIAs, after more than three years of activity, it is clear that some PAIAs may have fostered inter-departmental cooperation more effectively than others. Obviously, the stronger the perception of the need to work and act together, the greater the chances of success. This is particularly relevant again to those PAIAs which enable FAO to respond to external factors with a unified voice: e.g. AWTO, BIOD, BIOS11 and CLIM. This is also relevant to those PAIAs which simply continued work on long-standing inter-disciplinary themes. The need to work together is also self-evident when complex tools have to be developed and used consistently across the Organization (e.g. geographically referenced information tools and systems under SPAT12). The availability of substantial extra-budgetary resources which may be conditional on active cross-organizational cooperation (i.e. BTEC) is clearly another important motivating factor.

IV. Challenges faced in implementing PAIAs
and possible ameliorative measures

25. The set of problems and issues highlighted below are accompanied by suggested actions by the Programme Committee itself and possible measures by the Secretariat. The intent is to set in train action which would enhance the focus of identified PAIAs, broaden awareness of key partners and in-house participation, provide to the extent possible more resources, ensure better recognition of the workload involved and more generally facilitate the implementation of approved PAIAs. The issues are distilled from those raised by the PAIA chairs themselves in their progress reports or during general consultative meetings held with their Secretariats. The following analysis does not include issues specific to each PAIA, particularly as regards needed changes in substantive orientations, as these are to be addressed at the planning stage and the results reflected in the MTP or PWB proposals.

a) Need for more precise criteria and for selectivity

26. As observed above, as yet there are no firm criteria for the recognition of themes worth highlighting as “PAIAs” in the MTP and PWB. While work under all current PAIAs is of course useful and relevant, some themes may be more a matter for internal management and not necessarily worthy of specific attention by the governing bodies. In addition, there might be scope for consolidation of present themes. In any event, the number of current PAIAs is perhaps too large. Other UN specialised agencies also present what can be considered the equivalent of PAIAs in their planning documents, but appear to be more selective (e.g. the ILO13 has five “mainstreaming strategies” and closer to the PAIA concept only three “in-focus initiatives”, UNESCO14 highlights only two “cross-cutting themes” while the IAEA15 is considering six themes). The advantages of greater selectivity can be seen also in terms of facilitating consideration by donors willing to support inter-disciplinary approaches.

27. Suggested action: The Committee may wish to recommend that more precise criteria for the designation of themes as PAIAs be formulated. Based on these criteria, it may wish to request the Secretariat to examine the pertinence of continued presentation of the current themes as PAIAs in the next MTP document. It may also wish to encourage greater selectivity.

b) The difficulties inherent in “matrix” management

28. The Strategy on Enhancing Inter-disciplinarity in the SF underlined inter alia the need: “to promote more interdisciplinary approaches, while preserving the advantages of the disciplinary organizational structure essential to ensure continued excellence in the Organization's main spheres of competence ...”. While this principle is, of course, accepted, the difficulties inherent to formulating and implementing activities cutting across the primarily sectoral units which compose the Secretariat, are well known. There is often reference in literature to the “matrix” management approach, and this is clearly not limited to the identified PAIAs. As observed above, the Organization is increasingly involved with the execution of large-scale multi-disciplinary projects, and the need to ensure cogent technical backstopping, particularly in terms of finding a suitable lead unit, is not easy to address.

29. Suggested action: The attention of the Committee is drawn to fact that, irrespective of all the efforts made so far to ensure successful implementation of PAIAs, and more generally of required multi-disciplinary work within the Organization, this could imply structural measures, so as to facilitate “matrix management” in FAO context. It may, therefore, wish to provide preliminary comments on the relative importance of the conventional primarily sector based structure vis-à-vis a more cross sectoral structure.

30. Possible measures: More specifically with respect to field projects of an inter-disciplinary nature under the umbrella of approved PAIAs, practical solutions would be worked out between the PAIA groups and the various units of the TC16 Department. Enhanced involvement of the latter would also contribute to increase the visibility of PAIAs both for greater donor interest and awareness in recipient countries to formulate requests for assistance.

c) Planning for PAIAs

31. Many groups still report continuing conceptual difficulties of relating activities and outputs to PAIAs. Some feel that planning for PAIAs should to a large extent lead the planning process rather than follow departmental, or sectoral, planning processes. This implies that PAIA groups should be involved as early as possible in the process rather than as “an adjunct”. However, most participants to PAIA activities stress the importance of preserving flexibility and avoiding undue rigidities and complexity in procedures, so as not to discourage spontaneous cooperation.

32. Possible measures: Further measures could be explored to facilitate PAIAs in the planning process, particularly in order to establish pertinent links to entities and better identify, solicit and secure necessary inputs, for instance in terms of information system requirements. The timing aspect would also need to be examined (i.e. seeking to involve the PAIA groups as early as possible in planning processes).

d) Lack of resources

33. While budgetary difficulties obviously affect all activities, work under PAIAs is particularly vulnerable to resource constraints, whereby units are obliged to juggle with their allotments and have to make choices among competing requirements. The generally good achievements under most PAIAs so far are no doubt a reflection of shared interest and continued commitment by all concerned. However, this reasonably positive picture masks the strenuous efforts that Chairs and Secretaries have to make to obtain contributions from PAIA participants and their supervisors as well as the financial resources which come from the concerned units.

34. The problem is compounded by instances of virtually “permanent” liaison or programme functions which have to be performed, e.g. interfacing with conventions and other international processes, or responding to TCP17 and other requests from Members. These problems are also more acute for those PAIAs which do not have a “natural leader” or “substantive home” within the organizational structure, such as AWTO (ESC18) or REHA19 (TCE20). Some PAIA groups feel that their work would be more effective if a “facilitator” or “facilitating unit” fully dedicated to the PAIA could be established.

35. Possible measures: While it is not a substitute for sufficient commitment of Regular Budget resources by all concerned units, the search for extra-budgetary support could be encouraged in specific circumstances. For instance, PAIA groups could package the requirement for a facilitating unit into a well-formulated proposal to extra-budgetary donors.

e) Insufficient provision for entity 210S5

36. There is unanimous recognition that entity 210S5: Central Support to PAIAs has greatly contributed to the achievements of stated objectives under PAIAs since their inception. The allocation in the PWB 2002-03 was US$ 410,000. An increase under RG and even ZRG conditions was proposed in the PWB 2004-05 to nearly double this level. In view of the need to revise the PWB downwards, regrettably the amount remaining available in the current biennium is only US$ 592,000. Requests from PAIA groups far exceeded the amount available, e.g. in the current biennium, requests totaling US$ 1.2 million were received, against which only half this amount could be allocated. The eventual allocation in the next biennium would depend on the final decision on the budget level at the Conference.

37. Suggested action: The Committee may wish to reiterate the importance of this catalytic provision and support the principle of net increases in future biennia.

f) Insufficient recognition of additional workload linked to PAIAs

38. There is generally insufficient recognition of the time and energy spent by staff on PAIAs (especially the Secretaries who have to absorb the often substantial work involved in addition to their regular duties) and insufficient credit for the value of such work to the Organization. Many PAIA groups stress the importance of providing adequate incentives for units to work together and for demonstrable value added from inter-disciplinarity. More generally, linked to the above concept of “matrix management”, a change of culture is deemed necessary throughout the Organization, whereby the capacity to engage in team work should progressively be fully recognised and rewarded.

39. Possible measures: While the special requirements of inter-disciplinary work are undoubtedly better reflected now in many aspects pertinent to human resource management in the Organization (e.g. at the staff selection stage, in training opportunities offered, etc.), it would seem necessary to assess which further adjustments need to be made, including in staff appraisal procedures.

g) Closer involvement of Regional and Sub-regional teams

40. PAIA groups report many instances of low involvement of decentralized teams in their work, and often insufficient awareness in Regional and Subregional Offices of PAIA developments and achievements. A closer involvement would also permit to tap their expertise and wealth of contacts at local level.

41. Possible measures: A number of practical measures are already implemented by many groups and could be reinforced and made more systematic, such as:

h) Progressive evaluation of PAIAs and other forms of cross-divisional ways of working and identification of “best practices”

42. These desirable actions were already indicated in the MTP 2006-11. However, in view of other pressing requirements for evaluation work, at its last session of May 2005 the Programme Committee could not assign first priority to PAIAs and key aspects of working along multi-disciplinary lines, in the 2006-09 workplan of evaluations.

43. Suggested action: The Committee may wish to revert to the issue at a subsequent session when discussion of priorities for evaluation work would again be on the agenda.

V. Conclusion

44. Since their formal introduction, PAIAs have undoubtedly played an important role in meeting the needs of the membership, embodied important contributions to the implementation of the strategy on inter-disciplinarity, and given further evidence of one of the main FAO's comparative advantages, which is to bring its range of expertise to bear on the solution of identified problems. The Committee may wish to endorse the actions suggested for its consideration in the preceding section and to provide guidance on the possible measures to be taken by the Secretariat.

Annex 1

Titles of PAIAs and related acronyms (as included in the MTP 2006-11)

LHOO Local Institution Building to Improve Capacity for Achieving Sustainable Rural Livelihoods
REHA Disaster Prevention, Mitigation and Preparedness and Post Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation
BIOS Biosecurity for Agriculture and Food Production
AWTO WTO Multi-lateral Trade Negotiations on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
CLIM Climate Change
ORGA Organic Agriculture
FCIT Food for the Cities
PROD Integrated Production Systems - SARD/SPFS
BTEC Biotechnology Applications in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
BIOD Integrated Management of Biological Diversity for Food and Agriculture
DSRT Combating Desertification – stemming from erstwhile ECOM PAIA
MTNS Sustainable Management of Mountains – stemming from ECOM PAIA
QINF Definitions, Norms, Methodologies and Quality of Information
SPAT Spatial Information Management and Decision Support Tools
GLOP Global Perspective Studies
ETHI Ethics in Food and Agriculture
HIV/AIDS Implications of HIV/AIDS and Other Diseases on Food and Agriculture (AIDS) – new from 1 Jan. 2006
GEND Gender and Development
  PAIA introduced in the PWB 2006-07 (as recommended by COFO and COAG) new from 1 Jan. 2006
ENGY Bioenergy
  PAIA discontinued (in its original form)
ECOM Strengthening Capacity for Integrated Ecosystem Management

Annex 2

Overview of substantive achievements

45. As regular progress reports on the Plan of Action for Gender and Development are submitted to the Conference, GEND is not addressed in the following summary of achievements, presented PAIA by PAIA. In addition, virtually all PAIAs have developed and maintain dedicated pages on FAO’s Web site, whose approach is being harmonised in the current biennium under GIL leadership. To avoid unnecessary repetitions, references to Web sites have been omitted, unless there is something particularly important to be brought to the attention of the Committee.

46. LHOO - An initial effort was necessary to identify which entities and attendant outputs contributed more specifically to the objectives of this PAIA, as it could have a potentially wide coverage. There was also an early partial focus on the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic on agriculture, especially in Africa (e.g. a study on opportunities and options for strengthening adaptive capacity of local institutions in response to HIV/AIDS in southern Africa). This work is being transferred to the new PAIA on AIDS.

47. LHOO now revolves around organised interest groups dealing with:

48. The group dealing with problems of the disabled is particularly active with TCP projects and emergency programmes. Moreover, there is a strong functional association of the LHOO PAIA with the donor-supported Livelihood Support Programme.

49. REHA - An initial focus was placed on three multi-disciplinary outputs: an emergency database, a guide on needs assessment and a concept note on drought mitigation strategies. For the first output, it was necessary to review all information systems in FAO and their potential for supporting planning of emergency operations and assessment of impacts of disasters. The coordination mechanism for REHA is the Emergency Coordination Group (ECG), supported by more focused ad hoc groups at the operational level. Further work aimed at: preparedness for, and response to radiological or nuclear events; coordinated FAO’s participation in the World Conference on Disaster Reduction; enhanced common approaches and operational mechanisms to undertake emergency needs assessments; the development of a disaster risk reduction framework for FAO.

50. BIOS - The PAIA was instrumental in fostering a biosecurity approach in order to analyse and manage risks related to food safety issues, animal life and health issues, and plant life and health issues, including the associated environmental risks. A major interagency initiative with key partners led to the establishment of an Internet-based portal to facilitate the exchange of biosecurity related information. This portal facilitates the authoritative search for current standards, regulations and other relevant official materials relating to sanitary and phytosanitary measures (SPS). A related capacity-building programme is currently being implemented in several countries.

51. The PAIA contributed on behalf of FAO to the development of a Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) in cooperation with other partners. The STDF is to facilitate coordination of technical assistance on biosecurity issues at the national level by all concerned. The funding mechanism of the STDF allow for support to selected capacity-building projects in the areas of food safety, plant and animal health, with special preference given to integrated projects which can be used as models for implementation in other geographic and disciplinary areas.

52. As a joint initiative of BIOS and BTEC, a working group on biosafety has been established to deal with issues directly related to biosafety. The PAIA has also been active in developing practical tools linked to the biosecurity approach and is increasingly involved in field activities to maximise outreach of the work.

53. AWTO - As clearly conveyed by its title, the prime raison d’être of this PAIA is to ensure a coordinated interface with important developments in the WTO and related multilateral negotiations. Noteworthy achievements have included: preparation of, and support to FAO participation in WTO Conferences in Doha and Cancun; formulation of a new FAO capacity-building programme, called “Umbrella II”; inputs to five round tables and seven regional workshops covering a range of issues on agricultural negotiations; active briefings of Permanent Representatives to FAO, especially before and after the WTO Conferences; preparation of FAO participation in UNCTAD21 XI Conference; and the launch of a capacity-building, Web-based distance learning programme.

54. CLIM - In the first instance, the PAIA aims at ensuring that issues covered by FAO’s mandate are given due attention in fora such as the IPCC22 and the bodies established for implementation of the FCCC23 (Conference of the Parties and its SBSTA24). Inputs are provided to key international studies and documents on climate change, especially those under the auspices of the IPCC. The PAIA supported innovative approaches, technical materials and provision of assistance to countries on a variety of issues, such as: legal aspects; mitigation and adaptation of policies and programmes; conservation agriculture; sustainable and renewable sources of energy; forestry, water and land management.

55. Various national project activities have been supported, as well as capacity-building in fields such as: carbon sequestration; technology transfer; land cover monitoring and desertification; the role of forests in climate change and its mitigation; and training of climate change negotiators from developing countries in land-use and forestry issues.

56. ORGA - The PAIA contributed to several important inter-disciplinary outputs, including: an organic agriculture information system; the establishment of an International Task Force on harmonisation and equivalency in organic agriculture which met several times, together with the publication of related documents; an awareness folder on organic agriculture issues; a methodology for assessing the impact of organic agriculture on the economies of developing countries, complemented by a case study for its application; and the First World Conference on Organic Seeds. Work evolved in a context of donors being increasingly interested in providing support to organic agriculture projects, and in effect the PAIA is now involved with several projects (operational or under formulation) in response to requests from countries.

57. FCIT - The PAIA greatly contributed to sharing and disseminating information within FAO and with external partners on urban-related food and agriculture issues. This networking function proved effective in identifying opportunities for inter-disciplinary and inter-institutional collaboration, including formulation of field projects. The PAIA was involved in preparing concept papers, technical guidelines and information materials, as well as in organising a series of country workshops and an e-mail conference, with emphasis on urban food supply and urban and peri-urban agriculture. It was also instrumental in ensuring FAO’s participation in a variety of relevant international meetings (e.g. Third World Urban Forum).

58. PROD - Work under this PAIA was initially focused on establishing four benchmark pilot sites for field work linked to the SPFS25. Work on GAPs26 was also carried out, including a concept paper discussed at COAG, the hosting of electronic conferences, various country level activities and an expert consultation. Concerning the economics of integrated production systems, case studies, analyses and reports were commissioned in various regions.

59. The PAIA was subsequently reoriented to support primarily the further development of the GAP initiative. Broad internal consultations were held to identify ways forward and build consensus on priorities for GAP-related work in FAO. A GAP database and Web site were developed. Pilot site work was continued and has been linked to the GAP initiative, while various specific task teams are supporting follow-up activities. The PAIA also contributed to reactivating work on Conservation Agriculture and is seeking to mobilise complementary extra-budgetary funding.

60. BTEC - Major achievements under this PAIA included: multi-disciplinary policy assistance at national level; ensuring FAO’s interface to developments in other inter-governmental fora in relation to biotechnology; and as mentioned above, strengthening the policy and institutional dimensions of FAO’s work in relation to biosafety. A core activity within the PAIA is to ensure coordinated approaches to provide comprehensive information on biotechnology applications in livestock, agro-industry, fisheries and forestry (besides the Web site, through e.g. “FAO-Biotech News”, specialised e-mail conferences, glossaries). The PAIA contributed to a landmark edition of SOFA27 on Agricultural biotechnology: meeting the needs of the poor?.

61. BIOD - The main achievements over the period included: the promotion of mixed agricultural systems such as rice-fish farming and agroforestry; participatory training for IPM28; advice on soil and water conservation in relation to biodiversity; and technologies for use and maintenance of natural and low-input grasslands. Work under this PAIA also addressed legal and economic aspects of agricultural biodiversity, and sought to capitalise on FAO’s multi-disciplinary expertise by promoting an integrated approach to biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. The year 2004 was marked by an exceptional surge of work, as the PAIA was focal point for World Food Day, including innovative activities involving farmers, civil society, and new partners. Also worthy of note are a new Memorandum of Understanding with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (and a new outposted liaison officer post), and the extension of the Agrobiodiversity Theme under the FAO-Netherlands Partnership Programme for an additional three years.

62. DSRT - As part of the erstwhile ECOM PAIA, an Inter-Departmental Working Group on Desertification was involved in supporting the UNCCD29. The group supported field activities in response to the UNCCD process; facilitated FAO’s participation in main UNCCD fora (e.g. Conference of the Parties); established a formal collaboration framework with these UNCCD bodies and launched programmes on land degradation assessment of dry lands (LADA) and on the sustainable management of Fouta Djallon Highlands in West Africa.

63. The new PAIA is pursuing an active interface with UNCCD bodies, including the Facilitation Committee of the Global Mechanism, and with the new GEF30 Operational Programme on Land Degradation (OP 15), recently designated as the main funding mechanism for the UNCCD. The ongoing major LADA and Fouta Djallon projects are being complemented by other promising projects such as one on Acacia development, aim at improving food security and reversing soil degradation in gums and resins producing countries.

64. MTNS - Also as part of the erstwhile ECOM PAIA, a Working Group on Mountains supported FAO’s inter-disciplinary mountain programmes and the implementation of Chapter 13 of Agenda 21. A major achievement was the successful outcome of the International Year of Mountains for which FAO was the lead agency. The new PAIA is now coordinating action across all concerned units in relation to follow-up initiatives linked to the sustainable management of mountains (particularly in terms of integrated methodologies and strategies), also ensuring interface with partner institutions outside FAO.

65. QINF - The PAIA developed a framework for managing metadata to link it to FAO’s integrated thesaurus and terminology structures and guarantee consistency and coherence across the Organization's systems in the five official languages. It also covered: statistical commodity definitions and classification structures; standard data quality descriptions to produce statistical datasets; rationalisation of FAO terminology, vocabularies and glossaries; improved procedures for publishing documents and Web sites, thus broadening its scope to include different types of information resources. This involved further development of multilingual ontologies, categorisation schemes and metadata standardisation, setting the ground for a clearinghouse on information management standards. QINF established links as necessary to other internal standard-setting groups and to partners in the UN system (e.g. UN Geographic Information Working Group).

66. SPAT - This PAIA made extensive use of more focused task forces to carry out the agreed programme of work. Besides providing an operational coordination mechanism in the use of important tools, achievements included: GIS31 standards and norms to be used in-house; the further development of GeoNetwork and its acceptance both in-house and by external users as an international hub for retrieval of FAO spatial data; the preparation of a subnational database on land use (Agro-MAPS); the preparation of a sub-national boundary database and a global hydrological map; and the formulation and acceptance of a copyright clause for published spatial material. The “buy in” from other UN agencies, actively contributing to the development of the GeoNetwork open source software and from various standard and norms developed under the PAIA, give indication that FAO is considered a leader in spatial information and GIS databases development within the UN system. A similar positive response is expected for the soon-to-be released Agro-Maps land use database.

67. GLOP – This PAIA brings together all units active with perspective studies, facilitating dialogue among them and ultimately increasing the multi-disciplinary content of the studies carried out in various sectors (i.e. agriculture, food and nutrition, crop and livestock, fisheries, forestry, natural resources). It also seeks to ensure consistency in the assumptions used in these studies and in the views and statements issued by the Organization on long-term developments. Among various activities, improvements were made in the estimates for undernourishment, the water and irrigation data bases, and the assessment of the efficiency of water and fertiliser use which feed into global studies. In parallel, work was carried out on analytical tools for undertaking scenario analysis. The PAIA has been discussing more ambitious types of joint work on, e.g.: scenario design, joint regional perspective studies and eventually short consolidated synthesis reports.

68. ETHI - The PAIA and its internal high level and working level coordinating mechanisms supported meetings of the Panel of Experts on Ethics in Food and Agriculture, as the latter considered a range of ethical issues in food and agriculture. The PAIA oversaw the preparation of various studies carried out by technical departments leading to publications in FAO’s Ethics Series. It also coordinated the Organization’s response to relevant international initiatives on ethics, in particular the new UN Interagency Committee on Bioethics and meetings convened by UNESCO.

1 Committee on Forestry (COFO); Committee on Agriculture (COAG)

2 Programme of Work and Budget

3 Gender, Population and Communication for Development Division

4 Biotechnology Applications in Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (BTEC)

5 Integrated Production Systems (SARD/SPFS) (PROD)

6 WTO Multi-lateral Trade Negotiations on Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (AWTO)

7 Climate Change Issues in Agriculture (CLIM)

8 Documentation Systems Division

9 Integrated Management of Biodiversity in Food and Agriculture (BIOD)

10 Combating Desertification

11 Biosecurity for Agriculture and Food Production (BIOS)

12 Spatial Information Management and Decision Support Tools (SPAT)

13 International Labour Organization

14 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

15 International Atomic Energy Agency

16 Technical Cooperation Department

17 Technical Cooperation Programme

18 Commodities and Trade Division

19 Disaster Prevention, Mitigation and Preparedness and Post Emergency Relief and Rehabilitation (REHA)

20 Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division

21 United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

22 International Plant Protection Convention

23 Framework Convention on Climate Change (UN)

24 Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice

25 Special Programme for Food Security

26 Good agricultural practices

27 The State of Food and Agriculture

28 Integrated pest management

29 United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification in those Countries Experiencing Serious Drought and/or Desertification, particularly in Africa

30 Global Environment Facility

31 Geographical Information System