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Sustainable development

FAO cooperation with the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD)1

25.      The Council expressed its .satisfaction in the manner by which the Organization was discharging its responsibilities as Task Manager for Chapters 10, 11, 13 and 14 of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development's (UNCED's) Agenda 21, and particularly its efforts in ensuring wide consultation in the preparation of reports for the review to be made by the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) of these sectoral chapters in 1995. The Council agreed that the support to the CSD process of multi-year review of Agenda 21 and the promotion of action to assist countries to move towards sustainable development, constituted an overriding priority in the work of the Organization. The Council reiterated the commitment that the Organization had in assisting in the promotion and implementation of the Rio Summit agreements, in particular in adequately balancing the development imperatives with the environmental protection requirements. It also expressed the hope that the establishment of the new Department of Sustainable Development at FAO would enhance the Organization's capacity to effectively respond to the demands of UNCED follow-up.

26.      The Council noted difficulties in the UNCED follow-up process hindering the Organization's desire to make the most effective contribution in support of the CSD in its tasks. The Council noted with concern the lack of adequate financial resources and the reduction of ODA (Official Development Assistance) which could transform the UNCED follow-up into a process in which meetings and reporting would replace concrete action. The Council also noted the proliferation of meetings and initiatives, many of them parallel to those conducted by the CSD and FAO bodies, and the many requests for information and reporting which created heavy demands and an additional workload in the Organization.

27.      The Council invited the CSD to seek ways in which sectoral intergovernmental fora could assist in the review of progress and promotion of UNCED agreements, to establish modalities of work which could enable Specialized Agencies to make a more substantive contribution, and to mobilize financial resources for sustainable development programmes at national and regional level.

28.      The Council was informed of the recent meeting of the Chairman of the CSD with the Director-General of FAO, and their mutual interest in finding ways to improve the complementarity of work of FAO in support of the important and complex role of the CSD to monitor the implementation of UNCED agreements.

29.      The Council noted with satisfaction the concrete proposals for action, as contained in CL 107/13-Sup.l,6 related to the Task Manager reports for the four chapters of Agenda 21 for which FAO was designated as Task Manager, and invited the CSD to examine these proposals and seek the assistance of the Organization in their further elaboration and in the formulation of programmes which addressed critical issues of sustainability and, in particular, hunger, poverty and food insecurity.

30.      The Council urged Member Nations to ensure the presence of the agricultural, forestry and fisheries sectors in their delegations at the CSD, so that institutions from these sectors could provide substantive policy and technical guidance in the deliberations related to the review of the "Land Cluster" of Agenda 21 in 1995 and the chapter on "Oceans and Living Marine Resources" in 1996. The Council stressed the need to involve the private sector and the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) community in a consultative process in reviewing and identifying of strategic action in the field of sustainable agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

31.      The Council requested the Committee on Forestry (COFO) and the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) to follow up on the discussion of the Task Manager reports prepared by FAO, which would take place at the ad hoc Intersessional Working Group on Sectoral Issues of the CSD, and on the reports' proposals for action. The views of these Technical Committees should then be conveyed to the Third Session of the CSD in April 1995 in order to enrich the debate with substantive specialized inputs and to contribute to the definition of initiatives which could move Agenda 21 into concrete action.

The role of FAO in forest sustainable management and in the UNCED follow-up2

32.      The Council re-emphasized the importance of the Organization's programmes in forestry and underlined that these played a central role in the post-UNCED process, especially in relation to the implementation of the "Forest Principles" and Chapter 11 on "Combating Deforestation" of Agenda 21 for which FAO had assumed the responsibility of Task Manager for the UN system in support of the CSD. With regard to FAO/CSD cooperation, the Council expressed satisfaction that FAO had become de facto the main forestry adviser to the CSD and was preparing in that capacity the report of the United Nations Secretary-General on forests.

33.      The Council emphasized that FAO/CSD cooperation provided the Organization with the opportunity to demonstrate its capacity for leadership in the rapidly evolving international dialogue on forests through an open interaction with all involved actors, especially governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector. The Council noted that FAO's leadership role would be further demonstrated by concrete achievements and results. FAO was urged to recognize the role and capacity of other actors in forestry and to seek effective mechanisms for cooperation and a division of labour amongst them. The Council considered that FAO should reinforce the work carried out at the regional level, including that of its regional offices and its regional forestry commissions. Some members urged FAO to continue recognizing the right of indigenous peoples over their forests.

34.      The Council welcomed the Director-General's initiative in presenting an "Overall Strategy for FAO Involvement in Post-UNCED Activities in Forestry" and in allocating increased resources to the forestry programmes. It reiterated the need for increased resources for forestry activities, particularly in respect to the capacity to adequately perform its normative functions. In this context, some members underlined the urgency of providing the Forestry Department with the necessary human resources to carry out its extensive tasks. The Council looked forward to a stronger representation of forestry in future Programmes of Work and Budget (PWB).

35.      The Council recalled the request of the Conference, at its Twenty-seventh Session, (Rome, 6-24 November 1993) for the Director-General to prepare a report containing concrete proposals for a strengthening of the normative role of FAO in sustainable forest management and its cooperative role in the UNCED follow-up. It considered the Director-General's report prepared in response to this mandate. The Council welcomed proposals for strengthening FAO's role in assisting Member Nations to adjust their forestry policies and to prepare action plans in accordance with the approaches enshrined in the "Forest Principles" and Agenda 21. At the same time, the Council agreed that there was a need for FAO to improve the quality of its forest sector information and analysis, and its dissemination. Some members felt that FAO should make more use of the wealth of data available to it in preparing long-term strategic planning required by policy-makers and that it should give more value to potential synergies among its technical departments. The Council recognized the Global Forest Resources Assessment Programme as a key activity, and was pleased to note that additional resources had been allocated to it.

36.      The Council also welcomed the intention of the Director-General to support greening of the world by strengthening the Organization's work in afforestation, reforestation and sustainable management of forests and trees.

37.      The Council stressed the need for agreed criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management. In this context, the Council expressed appreciation for the Director-General's intention to facilitate their integration and harmonization, and to address any gaps that might be identified. This would be done by drawing upon ongoing initiatives, thus including all types of forests and providing a comprehensive coverage of geographical regions. The Council also stressed that FAO should aim at facilitating the convergence of the various ongoing initiatives by providing technical expertise and the forum for dialogue.

38.      The Council reiterated its previous calls for emphasis on national capacity-building. It welcomed the intention of FAO to assist Member Nations in the strengthening and adaptation of institutions to operate effectively in cross-sectoral settings and to promote effective cooperation between forestry administrations, the private sector, NGOs and rural people.

39.      The Council was informed of the report of the High-Level Panel of External Experts in Forestry and of the Director-General's decision to prepare for consideration by the Twelfth Session of COFO and the meeting of ministers responsible for forestry in March 1995 a comprehensive statement on the "State of the World's Forests", a seminar or workshop on criteria and indicators for sustainable forest management in February 1995, and a paper on the advantages and disadvantages associated with moving towards a legally-binding agreement on forests.

40.      The Council recognized that the national forestry action plans were the most suitable framework for sustainable forest management at national and global level, as called for by UNCED. It felt that the revamped concept of TFAP, as reflected in the new Operational Guidelines, provided an adequate framework for the implementation of national forestry action plans and allowed for an expansion of the programme to include all types of forests, as already achieved through the Mediterranean Forestry Action Plan (MEDFAP). There was also potential for the application of TFAP principles in countries with economies in transition. In this context, the Council expressed the hope that the Consultative Group on the TFAP framework (CG) be convened as soon as possible.

41.      The Council noted that there had been a considerable number of forestry initiatives following UNCED. While these had provided valuable inputs into the international dialogue on forests, the Council stressed the need for harmonization and convergence of the results of these initiatives for effective use by the meeting of ministers and, subsequently, by the CSD for its 1995 review on forests. This provided a major challenge for FAO. The Council considered FAO and the CSD to be the main channels for international initiatives in forestry in close and open cooperation with other agency partners, NGOs and the private sector.

42.      The Council expressed high expectations of the outcome of the meeting for the 1995 CSD review on forests, as requested by the Twenty-seventh Session of the Conference in 1993, and stressed the need for early preparation and distribution of the documents. The Council was reminded that only a few responses to the Director-General's request to Member Nations for suggestions on the agenda of COFO had been received, and it encouraged them to respond. Some members regretted the restrictions in the international trade of tropical timber and other forest products and requested that this issue be included among the items for discussion.

43.      It was considered that meetings of ministers responsible for forestry should be held regularly and note was taken of the Director-General's intention to convene such meetings of ministers on the occasion of all future sessions of COFO.

Progress towards the development of legally-binding instruments concerning the Prior Informed Consent Procedure3

44.      The Council recalled the establishment of the voluntary Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure by Resolution 6/89 of the Twenty-fifth Session of the FAO Conference (Rome, 11-29 November 1989) and the parallel process established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council in May 1989. The Council also recalled that UNEP and FAO had established a joint programme on the implementation of PIC.

45.      The Council noted that UNCED, in Agenda 21, Chapter 14, had made recommendations for the conclusion of a legally-binding instrument on PIC which invited relevant international organizations, such as UNEP, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), FAO, World Health Organization (WHO) and others in their respective areas of competence, to consider working expeditiously towards the conclusion of legally-binding instruments. The Council also recalled that the second session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) in May 1994 had recommended that UNEP, together with FAO, and in close cooperation with other international organizations, continue to evaluate and address problems with the implementation of the voluntary PIC procedure, and to develop effective legally-binding instruments concerning the PIC procedure.

46.      The Council took note of the substantial preparatory work done by UNEP to prepare elements that might be included in a legally-binding instrument for the mandatory application of the PIC procedure. It also noted that UNEP, together with FAO, would organize a meeting in December 1994 in which environmental and agricultural government-designated experts would participate to consider further the development of a legally-binding instrument.

47.      The Council considered the actions required by FAO, in cooperation with UNEP, to conclude a legally-binding instrument. These would include the organization of a number of negotiating meetings among governments. The Director-General estimated that funding requirements for the conclusion of such an instrument would be in the range of US$2 500 000 for FAO and UNEP together.

48.      The Council agreed that the Secretariat should proceed with the preparation of a draft legally-binding instrument on the operation of the PIC procedure as part of the joint FAO/UNEP programme on PIC and in cooperation with other international and non-governmental organizations concerned. The Council discussed the timeframe required to develop a legally-binding document. Many members considered that a draft instrument should be ready for adoption in 1997.

49.      Several members commented on the scope and content of the legally-binding instrument. It was stated that the present voluntary PIC procedure should be the point of departure of the negotiations. Overlap with other agreements, including those covering chemical waste, other non product materials and drugs, should be avoided. An appropriate balance should be sought among the responsibilities of importing and exporting countries, and an agreement should not unduly limit trade. The legally-binding instrument should apply to all sources of supplies of pesticides, efforts should be made to have the Convention ratified by as many countries as possible and countries should be encouraged to comply voluntarily with the PIC procedure pending conclusion of a legally-binding instrument. It was also stated that no new complex information system should be established. Information should be available on safe alternatives.

50.      The Council agreed that the Organization should seek resources, jointly with UNEP, to finance the process for the preparation and conclusion of the legally-binding instrument. The Council was informed that progress on the instrument would be dependent on the availability of such resources. In the development on the instrument, close cooperation should be maintained with the CSD.

Collaboration within the UN system and with other organizations4

51.      The Council expressed appreciation for the information provided on recent developments of interest to FAO and on collaboration with other organizations. While noting that the documentation was selective, the Council welcomed the illustration it gave of the priority being accorded to enhancing cooperation with organizations, within and outside the UN system.

52.      The Council supported this approach, and urged that FAO continue to strengthen its partnerships with other organizations, including those in the private sector, so as to ensure greater complementarity, synergy and effectiveness, particularly in the form of concrete action at the country level drawing upon their comparative advantages in their fields of competence. In this context, the Council welcomed the specific cooperative agreements reached with UNDP (United Nations Development Programme) and the World Bank for work on food security.

53.      The Council expressed satisfaction with the open-ended process of coordination and cooperation initiated with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), within the framework of a Note of Understanding signed by the two organizations in February 1994. It urged that these cooperative efforts be continued and recommended that similar cooperative arrangements be established with other regional institutions, including the Latin American Energy Organization (OLADE). In this connection, it was informed that a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed in September 1994 with the Regional International Organization for Plant Protection and Animal Health (OIRSA).

54.      The Council underscored the importance of cooperating with NGOs in working towards common objectives in sustainable agricultural development, food security, forestry, fisheries, humanitarian assistance and other areas of mutual interest. It was recognized that NGOs could contribute both to operational action at field level and to normative activities. The approach adopted with regard to NGO involvement and participation in the International Conference on Nutrition (ICN) was noted and commended, and it was suggested that this approach be extended to similar initiatives in the future.

55.      The Council noted progress in the preparation of an Agenda for Development, which was under consideration by the General Assembly. It agreed with the view of the Director-General that investment in development was investment in prevention of emergencies and of political and social unrest. It urged that food security and agricultural development be given prominence, as there could be no development without the security which came from guaranteeing the fundamental right to food. The Council stressed that agriculture and rural development were vital elements in effective strategies to alleviate poverty and increase productive employment. Along with governments, NGOs, the private sector and other UN organizations, FAO had an important role in addressing the root causes of poverty and providing for basic needs.

56.      The Council recognized that social development and the advancement of women, which were underlying goals of the World Summit for Social Development and the Fourth World Conference on Women respectively, would only be achieved if due attention was given to their close linkages with rural employment and development, notably development of the food and agriculture sector. The Council therefore supported the efforts of the Organization to have the final outputs of these international meetings give due recognition to food security and a productive food and agriculture sector, and encouraged FAO's continued involvement in the preparatory processes.

57.      The Council considered this particularly important with regard to the World Summit for Social Development, where FAO's participation was judged to have been appropriate, thanks also to the active support of Member Nations which had sought FAO's input. The Council suggested that national Ministries responsible for agriculture, forestry, fisheries and the environment should be involved in preparations for the World Summit for Social Development. The Council also supported FAO assistance to Member Governments on national-level preparations for the Fourth World Conference on Women, and noted that it would include a special "emphasis day" on the topic of rural women. It encouraged continued efforts to promote implementation of the Nairobi Forward-looking Strategies for the Advancement of Women, and was informed that a Fourth Progress Report on Implementation of the Plan of Action for the Integration of Women in Development would be presented to the Council and Conference in 1995. Appropriate follow-up to the recent International Conference on Population and Development was emphasized, including through participation in a number of existing cooperative mechanisms.

58.      The Council expressed concern over the decline in multilateral and bilateral assistance to the agricultural sector. It therefore welcomed the Director-General's efforts to enhance cooperation with a large number of financing institutions, in order to help reverse this decline, and noted with satisfaction the commitments for expanded cooperation with such institutions. It stressed that collaboration between FAO and international financing institutions was particularly important for the promotion of food security, the implementation of the Emergency Prevention System (EMPRES) for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases, and the development of the agricultural sector.

59.      The Council noted with concern the sharply rising costs of humanitarian assistance and peace-keeping activities which had drawn on resources that could otherwise be available for development. It concurred with stress placed by the Director-General on the importance of long term prevention of emergencies and resolution of structural problems. Emergency assistance needed to be provided in a manner that would be supportive of recovery and sustainable development. In this connection, it was noted that FAO had an important role to play in the work on the continuum from relief to rehabilitation and development. The Council welcomed the many examples of FAO's close and effective collaboration with other UN partners. It encouraged further inter-agency collaboration in this important sphere, in particular with the UN Department for Humanitarian Affairs (DHA) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

60.      The Council underlined the importance it attached to close cooperation among the Rome-based food and agriculture organizations of the UN system, in view of their related and complementary mandates. It took note of references in the document to a joint presentation by FAO, WFP and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) at the World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction, and to collaboration among the three organizations in preparations for the Fourth World Conference on Women. The Council requested that future documentation under this item include a specific section on cooperation among FAO, IFAD and WFP.

World Food Programme

Nineteenth Annual Report of the WFP Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes5

61.      The Council noted with appreciation the new format of the Committee's Annual Report which was concise, informative and analytical, and reflected the major decisions the Committee had taken in 1993.

62.      The Council complimented the Programme for its achievements in addressing the problems of hunger and poverty, despite a difficult financial and resource situation and the dangers its staff often faced in areas affected by civil strife. The year of the thirtieth anniversary of its operations, 1993, had seen further improvements in the quality of its work, effectiveness and coordination with other agencies. This trend was likely to continue.

63.      The Programme's achievements in meeting the requirements of emergency situations were emphasized. It had responded promptly and effectively to requests for emergency assistance and delivered relief supplies swiftly, despite the enormous increase in the volume of relief supplies which needed to be transported to the affected populations.

64.      The Council expressed its appreciation for the Secretariat's efforts to link relief and development activities in disaster mitigation and rehabilitation programmes. Recognizing the substantial increases during recent years in emergency relief assistance, it stressed the need for maintaining an appropriate balance between this type of aid and development assistance. It appealed to the donor community to undertake additional efforts to increase the Programme's resources for development assistance purposes. In this context, it stressed the need for the Programme's continued strong involvement in the provision of assistance to the hungry poor. The roles of development food aid in combating poverty and malnutrition and increasing self-reliance, and as an instrument of social and economic development, were particularly mentioned.

65.      The Council complimented the Secretariat for the initiatives it had taken to strengthen the Programme's cooperation with FAO, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations and other bodies both inside and outside the UN system. Several members stressed the importance of coordinating future CFA meetings with the scheduled Council sessions.

66.      The Secretariat was encouraged to pursue further its review, with the CFA, of its policies, strategies and objectives. It was invited to undertake further measures to broaden WFP's resource base and to continue its efforts to contain the programme support and administrative costs. The administrative and financial reforms undertaken so far were appreciated. However, the Secretariat and the CFA needed to examine further the short-term and long-term financing of WFP to continue to enable the Programme to successfully carry out its mandate.

67.      The Council expressed its gratitude to a new donor country for having offered to be involved in the rehabilitation work to be carried out in Angola and Mozambique, and possibly Cape Verde.

68.      The Council unanimously endorsed the Nineteenth Annual Report.

Election of seven members of the WFP Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes6

69.      The Council was required to elect seven members to replace those whose term of office would end on 31 December 1994, in accordance with the distribution and terms of office prescribed in operative paragraph 3 of Conference Resolution 9/91.

70. The Council elected the following Member Nations for the period 1 January 1995 to 31 December 1997:















Implementation of General Assembly Resolution 48/162 on the Transformation of the CFA into an Executive Board7

71.      The Council noted the report submitted to it on the process of implementation of UN General Assembly Resolution 48/162, including the outcome of the consultations that had taken place at the highest levels between the secretariats of the UN and FAO and the establishment of a Working Group of the Committee on Food Aid Policies and Programmes (CFA) to prepare the necessary revision of the General Regulations of WFP and a draft of parallel resolutions for consideration by the Council and the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and eventual adoption by the Conference and the UN General Assembly. The Council therefore decided not to comment on the substance of the matter or on the process at this time. It noted that the matter would be further considered at its next session in June 1995, by which time it would have before it the recommendations of the CFA.

Commission on Plant Genetic Resources

Report of the Extraordinary Session of the Commission on Plant Genetic Resources (Rome, 7-11 November 1994)8

72.      The report of the first extraordinary session of the Commission on Plant Genetic Resources (Rome, 7-11 November 1994) was introduced by the Secretariat, on the basis of documents CL 107/8 and CL 107/8-Sup.l.7 The Council welcomed the report of the Commission, and congratulated the Secretariat for the excellent documents that had been submitted to the Commission.

73.      The Council noted that the main purpose of the Commission's extraordinary session had been to initiate negotiations among countries on the revision of the International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources, in line with Conference Resolution 7/93. The Council emphasized the importance of this process. A number of members expressed their preference that the revised Undertaking should become a protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity. Others expressed the view that this issue should be dealt with later and, in this connection, referred to Stage III of the Revision of the International Undertaking where this issue would be dealt with and for which additional documents were under preparation.

74.      The Council endorsed the recommendation of the Commission that its next negotiating session be extended to two weeks, and that a three-day session of the working group session be held two months earlier. Some members considered that all the Commission's remaining sessions dealing with the Revision of the International Undertaking and matters relating to the International Technical Conference should last for two weeks. Several members proposed increasing from one to two the number of the extraordinary sessions of the Commission scheduled for 1995 and 1996. Some members suggested the establishment of a bureau with one chair and three vice-chairs for the whole negotiating process, each of whom would chair a parallel negotiating group. The difficulties encountered by many countries in attending simultaneous meetings was underlined.

75.      The Council expressed concern regarding the financing of the regular and extraordinary sessions of the Commission and of its Working Group that would be needed for the negotiating process, and requested FAO to make the necessary adjustments in the regular budget to finance these sessions, and to strengthen the Secretariat of the Commission during this process. The Council also requested the Director-General to seek extra-budgetary funds to ensure the participation of developing countries in the sessions of the Commission, and invited potential donors to contribute generously to a multi-donor Trust Fund that had been opened by the Organization for this purpose.

76.      Some members noted that Conference Resolution 7/93, on the Revision of the International Undertaking, was wider in scope than Resolution 3 of the Nairobi Conference for the Adoption of the Agreed Text of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Some members suggested that the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity should be consulted on the real scope of Resolution 3 of the Nairobi Convention. One member believed that this matter should be raised at the Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Legal Counsel drew the attention of the Council to the fact that Resolution 7/93 had been carefully negotiated and unanimously adopted by the Conference, which was the supreme Governing Body of FAO. The Resolution was therefore a binding mandate for the Council and the Commission on Plant Genetic Resources (CPGR).

77.      Some members considered that, during the negotiation of the revised International Undertaking, coverage of the following concepts should be strengthened, or introduced: the sustainable use of plant genetic resources; the fair and equitable distribution of benefits derived from plant genetic resources; national sovereignty over plant genetic resources; regulation of access to plant genetic resources in accordance with national legislation and on the basis of prior informed consent; in situ and ex situ conservation; the need for new and additional funds; the transfer of technologies and access to new technologies.

78.      The Council emphasized the importance of further defining the concept of Farmers' Rights in order to make them operative. Various other statements were made by members, including that Farmers' Rights should refer to both farmers and farmers' communities; that they should be vested in national governments; that they should be implemented through a system of compensation for the countries of origin of biodiversity; that they should include provisions for the protection of farmers' knowledge and local technologies; that the procedures for the implementation and the conditions for the utilization of the International Fund referred to in Resolution 3/91 should be specified and agreed upon; and that they should protect the farmers' right to resow their own seeds.

79.      In relation to the preparatory process for the Fourth International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources that will be held in 1996, the Council noted, with satisfaction, the progress that had been made by the Secretariat, and encouraged continued direct contact with countries. It was noted that this provided a unique opportunity for developing countries to have an input into the Global Plan of Action. The Council expressed gratitude to both developed and developing countries that had provided funds for this project, especially to Germany, which would also host the International Technical Conference, and encouraged other countries and institutions to mobilize the additional extra-budgetary funds that were needed to complete the financing of the project. It was suggested that the Secretariat be strengthened. Some members also suggested that Regular Programme funds be made available, if necessary. The Council underlined the importance of ensuring the participation of the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI) and other International Agricultural Research Centres in the preparatory process for the Fourth International Technical Conference.

80.      The Council noted that the first State of the World's Plant Genetic Resources, and a costed Global Plan of Action, would be elaborated during the Fourth International Technical Conference's preparatory process. Some members suggested that the Fourth International Technical Conference be attended by high-level policy-makers. Others considered that the Fourth International Technical Conference should be followed by a high-level meeting that could approve the revised International Undertaking, if the negotiations on this revision had been completed by that time. Still others considered that this proposal was premature. The Council agreed that the Commission on Plant Genetic Resources should review the draft documents, and act as a preparatory committee for the Fourth International Technical Conference.

81.      The Council noted that the country-driven nature of the process should ensure countries' commitment to the implementation and financing of the costed Global Plan of Action. It also noted that the State of the World's Plant Genetic Resources and the Global Plan of Action would facilitate the implementation of the International Undertaking and the realization of Farmers' Rights.

82.      The Council discussed the name of the Fourth International Technical Conference. Some members suggested that the word "technical" be dropped from the title. The Council noted that different names had been used in various fora. The Conference, in 1991, had called it the "Fourth International Technical Conference for the Conservation and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources"; Agenda 21, in 1992, had referred to it as the "Fourth International Technical Conference for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture"; and the Conference, in 1993, had called it the "Fourth International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources". The Council noted that it could not change the name used by the last session of the Conference, but recognized that the title of the International Technical Conference should be interpreted to cover the conservation and sustainable use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

83.      The Council noted with satisfaction that the Director-General and the Chairman of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), the latter on behalf of twelve International Agricultural Research Centres, had signed, on 26 October 1994, agreements that placed ex situ collections of plant genetic resources in their genebanks in the International Network under the auspices of FAO. It also noted that the agreement as signed included the changes to the draft agreement recommended by the Conference, and that under Article 6 of the Agreement, the Centres recognized the intergovernmental authority of FAO and its Commission on Plant Genetic Resources in setting policies for the International Network. The Council warmly congratulated FAO and IPGRI, as well as other CGIAR Centres, for this important achievement. It also agreed with the Commission that FAO should redouble its efforts to have countries put their national collections of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture into the FAO International Network.

84.      The Council attached great importance to the cooperation between FAO and the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, in order to ensure complementarity and synergy on matters related to biodiversity for food and agriculture. The Council was informed of FAO's offer to take part in the joint Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. It noted that this offer was based on the experience gained through the implementation of Resolution 2 of the Nairobi Final Act, which had sought FAO's full and active involvement in the Interim Secretariat of the Convention, and that the Commission on Plant Genetic Resources had expressed its firm support for this offer. The Council supported FAO's proposal for participation in a Joint Secretariat, and expressed the wish that the Conference of the Parties consider it positively.

85.      Reference was made to the Latin American Conference on Biodiversity held in Lima, Peru on 7-8 November 1994 that gave a regional position regarding the questions on biological diversity and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

Widening of the mandate of the Commission on Plant Genetic Resources9

86.      The Council took note of documents CL 107/18 and CL 107/8,9 as well as the introduction by the Secretariat and noted that differing views on the issue of the widening of the mandate of the Commission on Plant Genetic Resources (CPGR) had been expressed.

87.      The Council raised no specific objections to the principle of broadening the mandate of the Commission. The discussion, however, concentrated on the practical feasibilities, the possible impact this might have on the current work of the Commission, and the financial, institutional and administrative implications. There was a wide range of opinion, though all interventions agreed in stressing the need, if the broadening went ahead, of a cautious, step-by-step process.

88.      A number of members favoured the initiation without delay of the process of broadening the scope of the CPGR to also cover other aspects of biological diversity for food and agriculture. They generally supported the inclusion of animal genetic resources first, and they suggested to start immediately by setting up an ad hoc working group or working party, within the limits of the current financial provisions. In the view of these members, this would give a clear signal, and reaffirm FAO's mandate and role on biodiversity for food and agriculture, and would not affect current activities on plant genetic resources. It was also suggested that the proposal by these members to change the name of the Commission to "Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture" be adopted by the Twenty-eighth Session of the FAO Conference in 1995.

89.      Other members considered, however, that the broadening of the Commission could negatively affect the current negotiating process, and activities on plant genetic resources particularly with regard to the Revision of the International Undertaking, and the preparatory process for the Fourth International Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources - and therefore suggested that the consideration of the broadening of the scope of the Commission should wait until after 1996, and the conclusion of the Fourth International Technical Conference. A concern was also expressed that developing countries might have difficulties in sending delegations able to deal effectively with a number of sectors at once.

90.      A number of members also indicated that further information and clarification was required before they could finalize their position on the proposal. In this context, many members emphasized the importance of undertaking a comprehensive study of the financial, institutional and administrative implications as listed in paragraph 48 of the CPGR Report.

91.      The Council recommended that a document be submitted to the Committee on Agriculture (COAG), the Committee on Forestry (COFO) and the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) for their consideration, giving detailed proposals on broadening the scope of the Commission, including administrative and financial aspects. The comments of these three committees could provide a basis for the discussions of the Programme Committee, the Finance Committee, the next session of the CPGR, and the next session of the Council, which could then make concrete recommendations to the 1995 session of the Conference. The Council noted that, in any case, any proposal to broaden the mandate of the Commission would require the approval of the Conference, which had set the mandate in the first place.

92.      The Council also agreed on a number of points: that an intergovernmental framework for dealing with animal genetic resources for food and agriculture was urgently needed; that duplication of functions with the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity should be avoided; and that current activities on plant genetic resources should not be affected by widening the Commission's mandate.

Progress report on the preparation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing10

93.      The Council noted that the Code of Conduct was being developed to provide comprehensive guidance to States and promote responsible behaviour at the sectoral level among all those involved in fisheries. It would implement and complement the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, as well as other relevant international instruments which promoted conservation and management of the resources and development of fisheries for present and future generations.

94.      The Council recalled that Council and the Committee on Fisheries (COFI) had set the framework for preparation of the Code of Conduct before its submission to the Twenty-eighth Session of the Conference in 1995 for approval. The Twenty-seventh Session of the Conference in 1993 had set the timeframe for development of the Code of Conduct, and had decided that the General Principles of the Code should be prepared with a "fast track" approach to orientate its formulation as a whole. The Conference had also instructed that it must be complementary to, and supportive of, the UN Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. Accordingly, an Informal Working Group of Government-nominated Experts had met in February 1994 to consider a first draft of the General Principles. A Technical Consultation on the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fishing (Rome 26 September - 5 October 1994), which was open to all Members, interested Associate Members and International Organizations including relevant Nongovernmental Organizations, had undertaken a thorough review of the draft of the complete Code in order to provide the Secretariat with directions for its further elaboration.

95.      The Council noted with satisfaction that development of the Code had progressed according to the established timeframe, and that this progress had been achieved through wide-ranging consultation and review, both formally and informally. The Council also noted that a new version of the draft Code had been prepared by the Secretariat having taken into account discussions at the Technical Consultation, and that this revised version would be distributed shortly and submitted to COFI at its session in March 1995. The Council noted that some paragraphs of the draft Code would probably be affected by the outcome of the UN Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. The Secretariat suggested to the Council that the final wording of these paragraphs be kept in abeyance pending the outcome of the UN Conference which had planned two more sessions in 1995. The Council noted that following decisions by COFI, the Code would be submitted to the Council in June 1995, which would then decide upon the necessity for a technical committee to meet parallel to that session in order to elaborate further the detailed provision of the Code if required.

96.      The Council generally endorsed the proposed procedure and timeframe for the further preparation and submission of the Code of Conduct, as outlined in document CL 107/INF/21 and its Appendix,10 noting that, through COFI and the Hundred and Eighth Session of the Council, there would be an occasion to synchronize preparation of the Code with developments at the UN Conference and also to harmonize the final text of the Code for submission to the Twenty-eighth Session of the Conference in 1995 for its adoption. It was further noted that the Ministers at the COFI Session in March 1995 would receive a progress report on the elaboration of the Code.

1 CL 107/13; CL 107/13-Sup.l; CL 107/PV/4; CL 107/PV/13.

2 CL 107/6-Sup.l; CL 107/INF/25; CL 107/PV/4; CL 107/PV/5; CL 107/PV/13.

3 CL 107/11; CL 107/PV/5; CL 107/PV/6; CL 107/PV/13.

4 CL 107/12; CL 107/INF/23; CL 107/PV/6; CL 107/PV/13.

5 CL 107/PV/6; CL 107/PV/13.

6 CL 107/PV/10; CL 107/PV/13.

7 CL 107/PV/6; CL 107/PV/13.

8 CL 107/8-Sup.l;CL 107/8-Sup.l-Corr.l (E only); CL 107/PV/11;CL 107/PV/12; CL 107/PV/14.

9 CL 107/PV/12; CL 107/PV/14.

10 CL 107/INF/21; CL 107/PV/6; CL 107/PV/13.

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