Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen.
We begin this Session of the incil, almost seven years after the World Food Conference, in a new atmosphere of crisis and tension.
In all the great continents, there is war, civil war, or the threat of war. Looming over us all is the awesome spectre of the mushroom cloud.
The pollution of intolerance, aggression, and envy poisons the spirit of mankind. Respect for values, persons and revered institutions is assaulted. Even the holiest of men are attacked. The rights of ethnic, cultural, or religious minorities are abused. The cries of the oppressed, the refugees, the poor, and the hungry are smothered by shrill appeals to prejudice and self-interest.
The countries of the North are suffering too. It is estimated that there might soon be 25 million unemployed in the North. Its societies are wracked with political, economic and social strains.
Governments apply their economic theories in a climate of increasing exasperation with inflation, unemployment, and cuts in public expenditure. We see the effects all around us, nationally and internationally.
Why do I begin on this grim note, Mr. Chairman? Because although our concerns are specialized, we have to be realistic about the state of the world. We have to understand the forces affecting us and recognise the constraints on our freedom of movement.
We must take note that on almost every front of international idealism we are at present losing ground. On every front of advance towards a new international economic order we are checked.
The Global Negotiations are blocked. When will they begin? The Conference on the Law of the Sea, which was sailing towards a hard-fought conclusion, has encountered shoals on which we hope it will not founder.
The much-awaited full replenishment of IDA, of the Regional Development Banks, of IFAD, has still not yet arrived. The UNDP is forced to face a resource crisis.
Obviously, we cannot expect to be isolated from the consequences of world economic conditions. But can we not expect some judicious consideration? Should there not be some differentiation as to purposes, effects and absolute amounts rather than mere percentages isolated from their base?
Should not our positive contribution receive more recognition in a world in which more than $500 billion is spent every year on armaments which is 20 times the amount spent on all official development assistance. FAO's programme increase in 1982-83 would not even pay for one medium bomber. The whole budget would not buy more than about one sixth of a nuclear submarine.
There are, of course, some positive indications; some exceptions to economic retreat and the iron hand of retrenchment in aid. (These need to be mentioned for their own sake and in order to avoid falling into melancholy, which Victor Hugo characterised as the pleasure of being sad.)
Some Governments of the North, for example our Host Country, Italy, the Federal Republic of Germany, and Japan, are increasing their ODA, though not necessarily multilaterally.
Some Governments are in fact increasing their multilateral commitments. The Government of Saudi Arabia, without whose cash contribution some of the North American wheat of the World Food Programme could not be shipped to the poorest countries who need it most, has pledged no less than $9 billion to the IMF. FAO's Special Action Programmes have been beneficiaries of donations from the Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Algeria and Libya.
Most of these countries surpass the famous mark of 0.7%, in particular, the OPEC countries who exceed 2%. The rest attain less than 0.5%.
On the world food front, there is still no solid and reliable system of international food security. I am however very glad to welcome the decision of the IMF to establish a food facility which will go some way to helping hard-pressed countries. I would like to thank all concerned, but particularly M, de Larosière.
The background to your deliberations is however made up by mostly negative elements.
Overall, the prospects are still bleak. And if ever there was reason to distinguish a Continent in crisis, Africa would qualify for that doubtful distinction.
The principal victims are, as always, least able to meet such a burden - the low-income deficit countries, whose grain imports are expected to rise by 17% and whose import bill is estimated to rise by $2.2 billion more than in the previous year.
The difficulties of many of them, particularly in Africa, have been compounded by the refugee problem. There are now, it appears, some 9 million refugees in the world, driven from their homes by a mounting tide of natural and man-made disasters.
The need to cope with the problems of the refugees further saps the strength of the already weak diverts scarce resources from development, dislocates economic and social structures, creates chaos.
The aid given by numerous donors to African countries in response to my appeal of 19 September constituted a magnificent effort at short notice. I thank all concerned once again.
Since then, in April, there has been a relatively successful United Nations Conference in Geneva on the refugee problem. As a result, some $560 million in assistance was pledged by a large number of countries.
Even so, the condition of the 26 African countries affected by serious food shortages is still deeply worrying. It is estimated that 2.6 million tons of the imports they need are not yet covered.
Food Aid has never met the target of 10 million tons set by the World Food Conference and is in fact dropping - more than half-a-mlllion tons less in 1980/81 than the previous year, a total of 9 million tons compared with 14-17 million between 1962 and 1966.
This is despite the fact that we know that the 1974 target of 10 million tons is too little. It ought to be much higher, the population in the developing world has increased by 15% since 1974. Our estimate is that 17-18.5 million tons of grain, plus 300 000 tons of milk products and 350 000 tons 6f Vegetable oil in food aid are probably going to be needed annually by 1985.
The proportion of food aid going through the World Food Programme also continues most disturbingly to fall below rather modest targets.
The International Emergency Food Reserve is insufficient, insecure and unpredictable. Instead of being fully multilateral, it is to a large extent an uncertain patchwork of bilateral interests and arrangements.
Another gap in the framework of world food security is the absence of agreed measures for preparedness at the national level. The infrastructure for this needs heavy investment, but bilateral aid to agriculture is not notably rising.
What we have is valuable more in total than ever existed before, but in fact there is still no World Food Security worthy of that name;
It is not tolerable that as we approach the end of the Twentieth Century, human suffering in absolute terms of the weak and poor is greater than ever before in recorded time.
It is not acceptable that by the year 2000, four out of five Africans living south of the Sahara and one billion people all over the world could be living in absolute poverty.
It is scarcely credible that nearly 1.5 billion people living in low-income countries consume less grain than is fed to animals world-wide for production of meat to be consumed by the rich.
Every country has the primary duty to feed its own people. In the case of the poorest countries of the Third World, it becomes an awesome obligation.
In their efforts, they must not seek only to substitute cereal imports, but must also ensure sufficient production of the other staple and nutritious foods on Which the survival of millions depends.
Yet many countries are still not giving enough priority to food and agricultural development, neither in terms of long-term investment nor of current budgetary allocations. And some financing institutions seem to be giving lower priority to agriculture than in the past.
It is therefore my duty to repeat the Call I have made on many occasions to developing countries, and all those who help them, to make all possible efforts to increase domestic food production.
Most developing countries may not be able to survive as fully independent political, economic and cultural entities if they depend more and more on the bread of others.
We must not, however, forget that developing countries are also dependent on their export earnings from agricultural products. Such earnings from export of primary products are absolutely vital to many countries to finance their imports.
But, as you know, an increasing proportion of export earnings - in some cases more than two thirds - is being swallowed up by the increasing cost of the import of essential energy supplies and manufactures, as well as by mounting debt repayments.
The rise in the prices of imports of oil and of manufactures has not been matched by a rise in export prices of primary products. GATT estimates that the largest part of the increase in the balance of payments deficits of developing countries resulted from the import of manufactures from the North.
Future growth is imperilled by the exported effects of inflation and, at the same time, protectionism in the rich countries.
For many countries, the effort to rise economically is like trying to climb a greasy pole.
As will be seen from my introduction to the Commodity Review and Outlook for 1980-81, recent increases in agricultural export earnings favoured products mainly exported by the developed countries and their export earnings rose by 17% in 1979.
In contrast, the earnings of the developing countries rose at half that rate and their purchasing power in exchange for imported manufactures fell on average by about 6% compared with 1978.
Over a longer period, the facts are even more striking and disturbing. One ton of tea can now buy eight tons of imported fertilizer, compared with 17 tons ten years ago. One ton of imported steel required the export earnings from one ton of bananas: now more than two tons of bananas have to be sold to buy half the amount of steel. The real export price of jute has fallen 50% in the last decade.
All this does not happen because the world is governed by fools and rogues. It happens because we are all victims of the inexorable pressures of an international economic order which is flawed but tenacious.
The Third World is in a strait-jacket in which the harder it struggles, the weaker it seems to become. It is estimated that up to 1985, the poorest countries will register negative growth rates.
Yet, there are few politicians and economists who would deny the plain facts of global economic interdependence, that peace and prosperity for the North cannot be secured while hunger and poverty increase in the South.
Indeed, there are some who are prepared to speak out to this effect, notably the members of the Brandt Commission and the new President of the French Republic, Monsieur Mitterand, who included in his inaugural speech a declaration which should be notable and significant for all of us. This was that "there can be no true international community as long as two thirds of the planet continues to trade men and wealth for hunger and contempt". Another notable spokesman from the Federal Republic of Germany has also rightly declared that the developing countries needed assistance more than ever before and that what they are denied today by the industrialised countries will cost the latter much more in political terms tomorrow.
Alas, there is little sign yet that these penetrating and sagacious thoughts are widely shared or at the point of common action. For the time being, we are left only with the International Development Strategy, which has been formulated with a high degree of consensus, certainly as far as its section on food and agriculture is concerned, but does not contain the guarantees of its implementation.
Mr. Chairman, it is my firm belief that we must not lose sight of the objectives of the International Development Strategy. And I believe it would be a service to the cause of its realisation as a whole, if we were to press ahead through all of the appropriate fora, but particularly through this Organization, to reach early agreement upon and to implement some measures towards achievement of the International Development Strategy's objectives.
In short, we need action to implement a minimum global food programme for the rest of the Eighties, The need for action on food and agriculture daily becomes more urgent.
This is not a blind or narrow sectoral view which ignores wider objectives. There can be no future without food, money to buy it, employment to enable people to buy, and rural development to sustain the economic and social health of the community.
In the words of the Brandt Commission, putting an end to hunger is a challenge to the world's economic system requiring complementary national and international measures. While hunger rules, peace and prosperity cannot prevail.
Most of the basic elements for consideration in devising such a minimum global programme are not remote from our knowledge or capability - food production in the developing world, an effective system of International Food Security, a new International Grains Arrangement, food aid, and adequate replenishment of the World Food Programme, replenishment of IFAD, and maintenance of the International Emergency Food Reserve at a more adequate level, on a more assured basis, and in a clearer multilateral framework.
Perhaps the Summit Meeting in October will breathe life into previous discussions. But, if not, there seems cause enough to try to devise intermediate objectives and means of progress on which all can agree. Perhaps the Conference would be ready to consider this possibility on a realistic and pragmatic basis. The objective would not be to set unattainable targets: the poor do not feed on percentages. Nor could this Organization, built on the sincere interest of all member countries and on consensus, coerce any nation, whether developed or developing, by passing mere resolutions.
This Organization could however point the way ahead in the Eighties, on lines which Member Nations could agree to follow.
The proposals in the Summary Programme of Work and Budget 1982-83 would facilitate this, because they have been conceived within the context of the world situation.
Before these are considered, you will not fail to have noted the dark clouds overhanging our uniquely extensive, wide-ranging, and efficacious field programmes financed from extra-budgetary funds.
While we are meeting here, the Governing Council of the UNDP is faced among other things with the need to weigh up the consequences of the serious shortage of resources in sight for the Third UNDP Programming Cycle.
You may wish to examine this situation, as it may affect FAO, later in this Session. We are deeply concerned on their behalf as well as ours, as one of UNDP's chief partners in execution of field programmes.
As you know, resource flows through the main multilateral financing institutions may also be beset by problems. We attach great importance to our joint endeavours with these institutions. This is obvious from the unique extent of our involvement with them, particularly the World Bank, and from our success in bringing investment to food and agriculture in developing countries over the last few years.
The picture as regards Trust Funds has been brighter, not only quantitatively but qualitatively, including the emergence of notable new donors such as some OPEC countries.
As pointed out, however, by the Programme and Finance Committees, these successful and beneficial activities require reinforced and continuing support.
Also worrying for the more immediate future, Mr. Chairman, are the financial problems facing the Organization in 1981 and in the next biennium.
The plain fact is that we are faced with an unprecedented amount of unbudgeted costs arising for different reasons, some foreseen, some unforeseeable, during this biennium. The estimated total is $17.5 million.
I have done all I can to economise. Indeed, I have cut the programme severely. In effect, more than half of the very modest real programme increase of 5.3% approved by the Conference for 1980-81 is illusory, another meaningless percentage.
Even so, there is still more than $11 million which must be covered. The first place to turn for this is the Special Reserve Account which, owing to currency gains, will have about $18.5 million in it by the end of the biennium. But under the present rules, we can only draw $5.5 million of this to cover unbudgeted costs. I have therefore been compelled to propose resort to the only other resources available for covering the balance of approximately $6 million in uncovered unbudgeted costs, namely the Working Capital Fund.
Is it not extremely anomalous, Mr. Chairman, that although the same circumstances result in one of your pockets being empty and the other one full, you are not allowed by your own rules to transfer the money from one pocket to the other? Surely the existing limitation on the amount of currency gains which can be used to offset unbudgeted costs is illogical and inconvenient to the point of absurdity, and the case for amending the provisions of the Special Reserve Account as from 1 January 1982, which has been supported by the Finance Committee, is plain for all to see. It will therefore surely be fully recommended by you to the Conference.
Another lesson to be learnt from this biennium's experience is the unwisdom of doing what we did in 1979, namely beginning a biennium knowingly and deliberately with an insufficient amount for cost increases in the approved budget.
Thus, I have no alternative but to inform you of my intention to add $10.1 million to the cost estimates for the next biennium. But as you have no doubt noted, the budget level proposed for 1982-83 would at Lit. 1130 to the US dollar not be nearly $415 million but only approximately $374 million. In fact, at current levels, it will be nearer $370 million.
You may be sure that we will always manage our finances in a modest, conservative and efficient way. But we are threatened with a number of dangers. The situation must therefore be kept under continuous review, and I must reserve the right to come back to you with further proposals should circumstances make this unavoidable.
The Summary Programme of Work and Budget for the next biennium was produced promptly; in fact, as you have seen, too promptly to be able to take account of the devaluation of the Lira and other adverse developments since the document was finalized in January.
The basic considerations, the proposed programmes and priorities, the approach to implementation, remain valid and have been unanimously endorsed by the Programme and Finance Committees.
This is hardly surprising since they derive from the revision of strategies, policies, programmes and means unanimously approved in 1976, which despite all the inertia' in any System, have been consistently applied and with evidently satisfactory results as far as Member Nations are concerned.
Mr. Chairman, allow me to enlarge briefly on this aspect.
It was explicit in the Review of 1976 that its concepts were dynamic, that the Organization must change with the times and maintain a momentum in concrete and effective action to meet the real needs of our member countries.
A deliberate effort was initiated to stop the growth of bureaucracy at the centre, to prevent a mounting tide of documentation and meetings from submerging us, to shift our impetus out from Rome into member countries at the field level at the grassroots, to abolish irrelevant academism and paternalism, and to make action in the field our watchword.
These principles and policies received the full consensus of the Council and subsequently of the Conference, who since 1976 have regularly reviewed progress in achievement.
Let us take the emphasis on investment, which was the main programme priority. It is fair to say that dramatic results have been achieved. Our efforts in this field began in 1966 but no less than 73% of the total investment in projects in which FAO has been involved has been approved since 1976. The amount involved is more than $13 billion, At present, the Investment Centre is generating about $2.5 billion in total investments every year.
The Technical Cooperation Programme was created as a major instrument of the decentralization process expressed in action at the country level. The special qualities of the Technical Cooperation Programme as a soundly conceived, effectively administered, integral part of the Regular Programme and in terms of its immediacy and flexibility in action in response to urgent and short-term needs, and as a catalyst for the investment of other larger resources, have been amply demonstrated, evaluated and supported.
Since its inception, 1050 TCP projects have been approved. Nearly half of them were directly related to the activities of UNDP and other external technical assistance programmes. About 17% were directly related to investment. In 1980, more than half were in LDC and MSA countries, and 39% in Africa.
Throughout, the TCP has been rigorously administered in accordance with approved principles, criteria and modes of action. I have been austere not only in implementation but also in keeping the size of the TCP in relation to the total budget in the same proportion as originally.
Another decision of the Council and Conference which has proved its worth was the implementation of the system of FAO Country Representatives, working harmoniously with the Governments to whom they are accredited and with the representatives of UNDP and other Agencies. Their value can be judged from the continuing demand from Member Nations for the establishment of FAO representation, and from the increasing responsibilities which FAO Representatives have in furthering the implications of the International Development Strategy, food security, and priority programme,s in accordance with national objectives. Their presence serves to consecrate the priority of food and agricultural development while being intensely practical and down-to-earth in its effect.
The new course of the Organization did not damage FAO's role and leadership in policy analysis and advice. On the contrary, we have forged ahead in completion of the unique study "Agriculture: Toward 2000". We were, I believe, the first Organization in the UN System to have finished such a study and in the last two years, we and many others have used it widely. We have contributed very significantly to the preparation of the International Development Strategy and to the Lagos Plan of Action for the Economic Development of Africa. Our role in the preparation of the World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development and in the implementation of the Programme of Action as the lead Agency is well known. I do not need further to describe the various policy initiatives of this Organization in the field of world food security, food aid, and emergency food aid.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, a more prosaic but very important aspect of the reforms initiated in 1976 was the reduction of posts, meetings, and documentation.
This was a policy undertaken voluntarily and not in response to financial crisis or to the present economic pressures. The originally unprecedented action to cut 330 new posts just unanimously approved by a full Conference was not a passing gesture. Despite all the increased activities which have taken place since 1976, the proposed total number of established Professional and General Service posts in Headquarters, Regional and Liaison Offices is still 338 less than what was approved at the end of 1975. The number of meetings in 1980 was 180 fewer than in 1975.
This determined consistency of principles and action should not be forgotten, particularly at a time when the Organization is menaced with undiscriminating policies.
In this connection, I want to say that in putting forward my proposals for 1982-83 I have not sought confrontation with, nor challenge to anyone: but neither have I shirked my responsibility to the majority of Member States which may constitute the global economic minority, but which comprises the majority of mankind and the bulk of the poorest, hungriest, and most afflicted people.
In short, I have taken account of the problems of all Member Nations, but I have been faithful to declared principles and policies.
The intention in 1976 was not to abandon the good things of the past but to shed as much as possible of an accretion of irrelevance and ineffectuality, and to give FAO a new dimension in which space and time could be found to combine diverse elements into truly international cooperation to attack the crucial problems of world hunger.
Over the last decade, through the successive food and fuel crises, through the mounting number of disasters and emergencies, through the onset of inflation and recession, you have shown your capacity to react, to be pragmatic and flexible.
Your support has been of incalculable Value. You gave us your confidence; you encouraged our endeavours; you praised our successes and constructively criticized our shortcomings; you sustained us through difficulties.
The record of the Organization shows that it is worthy of the continuing confidence and support of its Member Nations, especially in the dark days ahead.
The objectives of 1976 are as valid as ever but we must not become fixed in the same mould. We must push forward with new ideas, new initiatives, new policies and programmes as time, circumstances, and, above all, your wishes require.
We cannot forget that the Member Nations of the Organization carry a special responsibility for meeting the historic challenge of abolishing hunger and malnutrition.
The destiny of the famished, the afflicted, and the poor depends on the response which Member Nations make. This response will be judged by future generations.
The judgement will be particularly severe if it is found not only that the response was inadequate but also that it was in fact reduced when help was needed more than ever.
It is therefore to be hoped that the message which goes forth from this Organization in 1981 will not be one that blights the prospects for the future, but will be a message of strength and hope, Let us also hope and believe that the Organization will emerge strengthened from the trials and storms now confronting the world.
Our common cause of conquering poverty in the midst of affluence, of hunger in the midst of plenty, is great. Ultimately it cannot fail because it is true, it is Pure, it is good,. In that faith we go forward facing the future with courage and hope for a better world.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.