This Programme Implementation Report (PIR) informs the Membership most concretely about the work carried out by the Organization during the past biennium. As part of the established suite of accountability documents, it provides information on the organization's financial performance and delivery of outputs and outcomes, seeking to demonstrate the effective use of resources entrusted to it. It covers resources and activities both under the Regular Programme appropriation and extra-budgetary funding.
It is recalled that the decision of the Conference in November 2003, when it adopted the budgetary appropriations for the 2004-05 biennium, entailed a substantial nominal increase over the approved budget of the preceding biennium, but did not provide for the full amount to maintain a zero real growth (ZRG) level. Hence, the Programme and Finance Committees at their May 2004 sessions, reviewed Adjustments to the Programme of Work and Budget which involved real resource reductions totalling US$ 51.2 million from the ZRG level. This PIR reports achievements against the adjusted Programme of Work approved by the Committees.
In light of the guidance from the Programme and Finance Committees and more generally the expectations in Governing Bodies for shorter and more focused documents, the content of this version is structured essentially around two main sections: "Organizational Performance" and "Summary of Programme Implementation". However, more detailed information has been placed in Annexes, both in the document itself or posted on FAO's Internet web-site (http://www.fao.org/pir).
Under "Organizational Performance", in addition to budgetary performance and cost of the field programme, there are four sub-sections which will be of special interest: i.e. covering the progress made in relation to efficiency savings, the further application of the FAO language policy, the continued attention to geographical representation and gender balance of professional staff, and the use of US arrears.
A noteworthy feature of the 2004-05 biennium is the high level of delivery for Regular Programme resources, where net expenditure was 99.9% of the appropriation and TCP expenditure reached its highest level ever. There was also a significant increase of delivery under trust funds not linked to emergencies, a trend which it is hoped will continue in the present and future biennia. Another important aspect is that, while respecting the dispositions as to their use set out in Conference Resolution 6/2001, most of the monies stemming from arrears paid by the major contributor for one-time non-recurring costs were expended in the period. The experience with the split assessments arrangement introduced in follow-up to Conference Resolution 11/2003, has been quite positive, but delays in the receipt of Members contributions has caused substantial exchange losses during the biennium.
It will be noted that the "Summary of Programme Implementation", in addition to providing facts and indicators of achievement at programme level from regular and extra-budgetary resources, also covers regional aspects in the execution of the technical and economic programmes, to give justice to a dimension of obvious significance to the Membership. Attention was also given to convey some measure of outcomes, mentioning where pertinent success stories and lessons learned, also building on the results of auto-evaluations which were initiated in the biennium.
Selected "highlights" have been shown in "boxes" throughout the document. They refer to key achievements under either the Regular Programme or the Field Programme, or quite often as the fruitful outcome of a combination of both sources of funding.
The Organization has continued its major contributions to international cooperation in all areas of its mandate, including implementation of major conventions, treaties and other instruments. Three of these, the Rotterdam Convention on pesticides, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, and the revised text of the International Plant Protection Convention came into force during the biennium, respectively in February 2004, June 2004 and October 2005.
Readers will no doubt also be interested to see in the narratives under Major Programme 3.3. Field Operations, how the Organization was able to assist Members in coping with a series of emergencies, from the desert locusts to Avian Influenza, but also linked to many natural disasters, e.g. the tsunami which hit Southern Asia, the earthquake in Northern Pakistan, hurricanes in the Caribbean and Central America, and drought (particularly in Africa). Another interesting feature, under Major Programme 3.2 Support to Investment is the amount of US$ 6.2 billion worth of investments (including domestic counterpart funds) which the Investment Centre contributed to generate in countries.
During 2004-05, FAO pursued its established range of global activities and direct services to Members. For instance, its key function of assembly and dissemination of information was further bolstered by the redevelopment of FAOSTAT and remains epitomized by the World Agricultural Information Centre (WAICENT), under which preliminary attempts to provide interactive services ("Ask FAO") and the dissemination of best practices are stepping stones for a more vigorous expansion, as envisaged in the ongoing reform process in the Organization. The new State of Agricultural Commodity Markets (SOCO) joined other FAO's regular assessments such as the State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA), the State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI), the State of World Fisheries and Aquaculture (SOFIA) and the State of the World's Forests (SOFO), to enlighten wide audiences of policy makers, researchers and the general public. Clearly, not all activities, however valuable they may be, can be addressed in this brief foreword.
I trust that the ample information provided in this PIR will give further corroboration to the Membership of the returns from the collective investment they make through this Organization. The work of FAO benefits not only the governmental authorities which are by essence major recipients and users of its outputs, but also a vast array of constituents within countries, and ultimately – albeit necessarily in less direct ways in most cases – all those population groups the livelihoods of which depend on the food, agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors.