II. CORPORATE INITIATIVES IN SUPPORT OF PROGRAMME DELIVERY
A. Implementation of Approved Reform Proposals
275. The Organization was actively engaged in the implementation of reforms that were approved by the governing bodies in two main phases, i.e. by the 33rd Session of the Conference in November 2005 and the 131st Session of the Council in November 200621
. Progress was reported to the Programme and Finance Committees and Council, as well as in the PWB 2008-0922
276. A first set of approved changes to the headquarters' structure was implemented as at 1 January 2006 without an increase in the number of departments. These regrouped various advocacy activities within a single unit in the Office of the Director-General; moved the Nutrition and Consumer Protection Division to the Agriculture Department; grouped security functions in a unit placed under the authority of the ADG of the Administration and Finance Department; and established the Shared Services Centre (SSC) through the merger of administrative services provided by various units at headquarters ahead of phased implementation of a multi-centre structure. The implementation of the SSC and related business process changes are reported under Section II.C: Efficiency Savings.
277. The new organizational structure for headquarters approved by the November 2006 Council has been implemented as of 1 January 2007. It includes the new departments for Natural Resources Management and Environment (NR) and for Knowledge and Communication (KC). Important advocacy initiatives were integrated into the KC Department, which allowed for additional synergies and efficiencies. Changes to the PWB chapter structure and reformulation of programme entities were presented in the Revised PWB 2006-07.
b) Implementation of decentralization measures
278. In 2004, the Independent Evaluation of Decentralization23
made a series of recommendations concerning the structure and functioning of FAO’s decentralized offices. Subsequently, the Director-General proposed, as a part of his general reform proposals, revisions to the decentralized office structure and modus operandi
to improve the Organization’s capacity to respond to the needs of countries24
. In November 2005, the FAO Conference acknowledged the need for strengthened decentralization and agreed that as a first step the Director-General’s proposals be implemented in the Africa region and Central Asia subregional office25
i) New subregional offices and multidisciplinary teams
279. During the biennium, FAO established new Subregional Offices for Central Africa in Libreville, Gabon and for Eastern Africa in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The Subregional Office for Western Africa was established in Accra, Ghana, which also continued to host the Regional Office for Africa. The reconfigured Subregional Office for Southern Africa remained in Harare, Zimbabwe. The new Subregional Office for Central Asia was established in Ankara, Turkey. In the second phase, the Regional Office for Europe was transferred from FAO headquarters in Rome to Budapest, Hungary.
280. As a result of subsequent governing bodies' decisions26
, the reforms have also been extended to Latin America and the Caribbean. A Subregional Office in Panama was established, a multidisciplinary team in Santiago was set up and the Subregional Office in Barbados was restructured. In November 2007, the Council also approved the creation of a new Subregional Office for the Gulf Cooperation Council States and Yemen located in the United Arab Emirates. Measures to establish this office, and reconfigure other offices in the Near East region, are under review.
ii) Responsibilities and relationships
281. A guide for responsibilities and relationships between headquarters and the decentralized offices was designed in a broad participative process in 2006-07 and issued in June 2007. Under this new operating model, FAO’s subregional offices report to the Regional Representative and have technical capacities geared to the needs of the subregion. The FAO Representatives in the subregion are expected to participate, in their technical capacity, in the multidisciplinary teams located at subregional offices. Moreover, substantial levels of non-staff resources have been provided. The subregional offices are the first port-of-call for technical support for country offices.
282. One of the goals of decentralization is to strengthen partnerships with regional and subregional economic organizations. The objective is to provide better policy and technical support to countries through FAO country representatives. The Council received an update on progress in the implementation of these reforms in November 200627
and June 2007.
iii) Subregional plans of action
283. The new decentralized model envisages a well-defined subregional plan of action. During 2007, subregional programming workshops were held in the five SROs under the first phase of reforms (Western, Eastern, Southern and Central Africa, and Central Asia). The workshops were co-funded by FAO and the Government of Spain.
284. These workshops brought together FAO country representatives from the countries in the subregion, the subregional technical officers and resource persons from the regional office and headquarters. Participants identified subregional priorities based on those of subregional organizations and the common features of different national priorities. A subregional work plan was formulated and a ‘road map’ for implementing it was prepared.
285. After reviewing the workshop reports, governments in the subregion and, in some cases, subregional partners, made specific requests to the subregional office for support. For example, in Central Africa, they agreed on a set of proposals that would address three major areas: i) a subregional initiative on monitoring food security; ii) support to CEMAC for the formulation of a subregional seed strategy; and iii) the development of a common agricultural policy for ECCAS.
iv) FAO’s work at country level
286. Since the introduction of National Medium-term Priority Frameworks (NMTPF) in 2005, FAO Representatives increasingly entered into a structured dialogue with governments and other partners on priorities for government–FAO collaboration. NMTPFs have also proved very useful to help integrate agricultural priorities in UN development frameworks, particularly in the eight "pilot" countries. The biennium witnessed a trend towards progressively improving the quality of NMTPFs.
287. Three main lessons can be drawn from the relatively short experience with NMTPFs: i) a good consultation process with national and international partners at the country level is a necessary condition to achieve a meaningful prioritisation; ii) the capacity of FAO field offices to participate in joint programmes still needs to be strengthened by programmable, more predictable and commensurate extrabudgetary resources; and iii) FAO's role and work at country level (as well as that of other UN specialised agencies) needs to be better recognised by the donor community, as it differs fundamentally from those of primarily operational UN Funds and Programmes.
288. An extraordinary training effort targeting 44 FAO Representatives and their Assistants for Programme and Administration took place in 2006-07, thanks to the generous voluntary contribution of the Government of Spain. Each target audience indicated that such activities contributed to enhance their office operational capacity and to the better implementation of reform/decentralization.
289. Finally, the TCP facility has been instrumental in providing resources for formulating NMTPFs and enabling FAO Representatives to be proactive partners in the UN "Delivering as One" pilots.