CHAIRMAN: Good afternoon. We will now resume the work of Commission II and if, as I understand, there are no more countries wishing to take the floor, I will ask Dr Shah to respond to some of the questions and issues raised this morning by different delegations.
V.J. SHAH (Deputy Director-General, Office of Programme, Budget and Evaluation) : Thank you very much, Mr Chairman. I am greatly obliged to you and the Commission for having completed your debate before the lunch break so that I had more time for reflection on what I propose to say now. Once again on behalf of the Director-General and the Secretariat I would like to express gratitude to the Commission for the debate it has had and for the reception it has given to this first Programme Evaluation Report. The Report, as you know, was submitted by the Director-General, so it is to him that I will convey your sentiments and your conclusions, with a great deal of pleasure.
A Report such as this is not only formally submitted by the Director-General. As you can imagine, it is prepared under his direction and "direction" is not an empty word. His direction includes management of the process and encouragement. So when the Secretariat is responsive to him, it is because of all these aspects of the direction that he gives us. Certainly, as far as the hard work is concerned, I take all the kind words that have been said not as being addressed to me; they should be addressed to my very many colleagues, and particularly to Mr Kato, the Chief of our Evaluation Service.
One of the first impressions I have of the debate is the unanimity of the Commission's sentiment in appreciating what many of you called the objectivity of the Report, the candour, the frankness. This is extremely important to us and I would present it to you as our commitment to maintaining the integrity of standards of evaluation. I can assure you that the fact that the Director-General decided many years ago to put the Evaluation Service in my office had nothing to do with me - it happened before I came to this office - it is a mark of the importance attached to having a unit, whether it is large or small, which has direct access to him, and a unit which can stand firm in its judgement. I stress that, in making objective, frank evaluations, my colleagues need to have the courage to stand behind their analyses and the courage to say what they think. We all know that is important. What is equally important is that there is no interference, either by me or anyone else, in allowing them to say what they think, and I think we all attach importance to this.
Another aspect which has often been referred to in the debate is the link between evaluation, programme formulation and medium-term planning. There are no magic recipes. There are no listed guidelines to ensure this. Certainly there are guidelines which we observe in our work but these are management practices. What is important, I submit, is that the functions are all together. Again, this is nothing to do do with me. I am not seeking
to take any credit but I very much benefit from the fact that these functions are together in my office because that is what permits the Secretariat to ensure that the results of evaluation are used in programme formulation on a continuing basis and that the process of programme formulation is in the minds and the hands and the pens - or the personal computers - of the same people who work on the Medium-Term Plan.
Mr Chairman, I have now to address some remarks relating to individual sections of this report, starting with the comments which were made on the selection of topics for the in-depth review in Part 1. I believe your debate recognized that these were all suitable topics. They all gave you a different emphasis, different aspects of our programmes. This was very much one reason for their selection, but who selects them? If I may respectfully say, I do. It is a question of management judgement. Of course, since I am accountable to the Director-General, I submit my recommendations to him but it is, I put it to you, a management judgement about which topics are selected, and I hope you do not see anything wrong in that. Certainly for this Report you have all felt that the topics were appropriate.
One of the aspects which I took very much into account was which topics had been covered before and what the distribution and spread of these topics is between different programmes and sub-programmes. Let me give you an example. One or two distinguished Members, when referring to this aspect, asked why there was no forestry sub-programme included, and I respect their questions. I thought about it, and the reason I did not include it is that, for the overall length, size and scope of the review, we wanted to keep Part One to three sub-programmes. One could have had four or five, you might say, but it was a judgement for the overall length and scope of the Review to keep the in-depth section to three sub-programmes. You have two from Major Programme: Agriculture; one from the Agriculture Department, one from the ES Department, and one from Fisheries.
Forestry is not forgotten. What I did consider is that in the previous in-depth reviews we have covered forestry fairly well. In 1980-81 we had Forest Industries and Trade; in 1982-83 Development and Management of Forests; in 1984-85 Fuelwood; in 1986-87 Community Forestry Development; in 1988-89 Forestry Training and Institutions and in 1990-91 Forest Food, Fodder and Fuelwood Systems, so I felt that forestry had not been badly covered. Also, in the last couple of years we have had a great deal of attention given to and evaluation made of the Tropical Forestry Action Plan, with its revised, expanded concept. That is the reason why we did not include a forestry sub-programme, but again, there is no reason, Mr Chairman, with all respect, for me to feel defensive. I hope I do not need to. I have taken note of the suggestions made for the future, and certainly these are the kinds of suggestions we respect and wish to take into account.
Going to Part 3-1 have not forgotten Part 2; I will come back to it later because it needs a much deeper response - it was suggested that we could have included sustainable development and sustainable agriculture as a suitable topic for this part of the Report. Again, I appreciate very much the reasoning behind this suggestion and I will only mention that the reason we did not do so is that in the review of the Regular Programme for 1988-89 we did have the special topic of FAO Support to Member Countries in Conservation and Amelioration of the Natural Environment and Introduction of Environmental Considerations into FAO Projects and Programmes. Then, of course, we subsequently moved into preparations for UNCED and there was a fair amount of reporting on that. That was the reason why the subject
chosen this time was that of international trade, and I am glad that overall it has met with a great deal of interest.
Turning now to the remarks made by a number of distinguished Members who attached importance to thematic evaluations - it was the distinguished representative of France who referred to this - and evaluations of Special Action Programmes - the distinguished representative of Canada among others referred to this - Mr Chairman, we attach a lot of importance to thematic evaluations and we would like to do them more in the future. We have done several in the past. We did a thematic evaluation on agricultural education and training, we did one on national agricultural research, and we did one on aquaculture. All of these are interesting because we did not do them alone. We did them with UNDP, sometimes with a Member Government interested in the same subject and with its own programme in that field. In a thematic evaluation, as was desired by the Representative of France, the evaluation covers a period of easily ten years, and it covers not only the FAO activities but also the activities of other organizations and activities funded by a number of donors. However, these are pretty huge exercises and we just have not had the resources in recent years to pursue them but, God willing and your generosity flowing, it is the kind of thing which my colleagues and I look forward to continuing.
Turning to Special Action Programmes, yes, there again in the past, as some of you may remember, we had in-depth evaluations of the Food Security Assistance Scheme, of the Seed Production and Improvement Programme, and of the Programme of Control of African Animal Trypanosomiasis. Each of those evaluations at that time - and this was some four to six years ago - cost between US$300 000 and 400 000.
We do intend, again resources permiting, and this is an area where those Member Nations who are interested in being substantial donors to individual special action programmes may also be interested with us in carrying out in-depth evaluations. The evaluation of the twelve special action programmes which you considered under the Programme Implementation Report is something that we envisage as systematic. The Evaluation Service will be drawn into making sure that there are periodic evaluations of each Special Action Programme.
Then I turn to a very very important problem that has been raised by a number of distinguished members and that is the feedback of evaluation. Now I already referred to the fact that as regards the Regular Programme the feedback of evaluation is something which I take as a primary responsibility of my office. Certainly when the evaluation results are shared with all our colleagues in the technical department, they are shared with them in order that they may take those results into account in formulating their proposal for future Programmes of Work and Budget. Since it is the task of my office to consolidate and to prepare the Programme of Work and Budget, it is really our responsibility to make sure how the results of the evaluation have been taken into account, and in the final analysis the decisions on resource allocation which the Director-General makes are, of course, his decision but are a matter on which I hope I have some room of recommendation to him. This is as regards the Regular Programme. As regards the Field Programme I would really like to share with the Conference our practice, our procedures, how we try to promote this feedback into the improvements of field projects first of all by saying, I am convinced, I am very deeply convinced that this is a matter which cannot simply be handled by procedure. It has been suggested to me by representatives of some Member Nations in discussions that they have with
me, would it not be a good idea if you sent a form around to each unit to say when you have formulated this project and you have submitted it to the Development Department for possible funding by UNDP or for possible funding by a Trust Fund contributor, you have the officers sign a form to say "I solemnly swear that I have taken the results of previous evaluations on this subject into account." Perhaps I am too cynical but I do not believe in such procedures because such procedures and the filling of such forms may be, I do not want to insult any of my colleagues, may be or may become a proxy for the substance of action. For this reason we have preferred to choose a path of dissemination of the results of evaluation, making syntheses on an annual basis of the field project evaluations in each field. We synthesize the results of project evaluations in agricultural extension projects, or in fishery training projects, distributing these syntheses through our Field Programme Committee that Monsieur Regnier is Chairman of and then pursuing the incorporation of the feedback into new project formulation. Now you may be satisfied to note that this is not just a formal procedure. The annual synthesis of project evaluations we share widely in all Departments. I even send a copy to the External Auditor to make sure he is aware of what we are doing, what is happening. The Field Programme Committee has a discussion of the synthesis and then the Field Programme Committee has established a Working Group to review the nature and scope of the issues involved and then making sure that arrangements are made to improve the project formulation and appraisal processes.
Let me now turn more broadly to the subjects of field project evaluation as it has been presented to you and as you have reacted to it in your debate. First of all in view of the interest expressed I would draw your attention to the FAO guidelines on field projects evaluation. These guidelines have been developed by my colleagues in the Evaluation Service and they are published. For any representative who is interested in having them we shall be glad to make copies available.
The second aspect about field project evaluation and looking at Chapter 4 is the frank assessment which we have said we are concerned about. You have shared the same sentiment and in fact if there is any paragraph in this document which has been more frequently referred to than any other it is paragraph 54 on page 96 of the English text at the end of Chapter 4. The lessons are clear. You have said that the steps we propose to take are appropriate but the question has been asked: "But what is being done?". Quite right, and I would submit to the Conference that other than the improvement of procedures and the training of staff and consultants, both at Headquarters and the field, which is increasing, the other actions envisaged will be very much a subject of our discussion, not in this Commission but in Commission III of this Conference on Friday 19 November if the schedule of the Conference is maintained. The item under which I look forward to discussing this subject further is the item on the proposals of the Director-General on Trust Fund Support Costs Reimbursements.
I submit now, and as you wish we will discuss it in Commission III, the proposals of the Director-General are a total, logical and integrated response to the measures which are indicated here as the measures which are necessary. A more multi-disciplinary approach to project planning, design and implementation is what the Director-General's proposals address, they really address the substance of this issue and how we propose to deal with it. Improvement in procedures and processes for programming, appraisal, implementation, monitoring and backstopping and the last point about greater selectivity in identifying, formulating and implementing projects
in line with FAO's comparative advantage and with the existing technical operational capacity in the Organization. I will not go into the substance of the Director-General's proposals because you do not have them before you now, but let me point out that the issue of selectivity and efficiency is the gist of his proposal. The Director-General wishes the field programme of this Organization to grow in response to the effective demand of Member Nations but he is also committed to ensuring that this Field Programme is soundly organized, is equitably funded and is maintained in the best interest of Member Nations. His proposals make it clear that he does not consider it in the interest of the Organization as a whole to have a limitless level of a field programme which cannot be well managed or well implemented or which is not financially viable. These are all elements then where the Conference will pronounce itself and I emphasize the words "The Conference will need to pronounce itself" because as the Director-General has always maintained, this is a matter for all Member Nations and not for selected Member Nations, whether they are generous contributors to the Trust Fund Programme or Member Nations who are beneficiaries of such programmes.
With regard to the concerns over the quality of field project design and implementation, a number of members requested how our experience compared with that of other organizations. It is a very valid question and I think my reply may interest not only the members who asked the question but may interest the Conference generally. The problem is not unique to FAO, it is very widespread and it is widespread among the Governments who have bilateral assistance programmes and it is widespread among international organizations. In UNDP there was a synthesis of 810 project evaluations conducted between 1986 and 1992: 810 is a good sample, as is ours. On the subject of project design the UNDP synthesis indicated that there remains a serious weakness despite improvement in recent years.
Between 1986 and 1990 alone only 15 percent of projects were assessed as good - only 15 percent - and over 30 percent were assessed as poor. This compares with FAO, where we said 18 percent good and 15 percent poor. I am not seeking satisfaction. These are not results we should be proud of. For 1991 and 1992 the UNDP synthesis showed a substantial increase in good projects. It went from 15 percent to 45 percent - bravo! - but the level of poor projects was still 25 percent. This synthesis also showed the specific weaknesses are very similar to those identified in our own analysis. As regards project outputs UNDP found that for the period 1986-1992 only 13 percent of the projects evaluated were assessed as good and 21 percent poor.
In the case of UNIDO we have the results of their synthesis. However, only 18 projects (which is a very small sum) were evaluated in 1989. As regards project design they confirmed that it remains a serious weakness: 25 percent were assessed as adequate and 75 percent as inadequate. Project outputs resulting from the UNIDO synthesis showed 11 percent as good and 28 percent as poor.
Unesco did a synthesis of 24 projects in 1991. Again it showed the quality of project design was a serious weakness. About 50 percent of projects evaluated had serious defects in project design.
Lastly, there is the World Bank with an estimated US$2.2 billion committed for technical assistance in 1991. The World Bank's annual review of evaluation results for 1990 found that 62 percent of what they call freestanding technical assistance projects which were reviewed were found to be
satisfactory. 62 percent is impressively high, but they themselves point out that this sample includes engineering and construction projects. It is evident, Mr Chairman, in projects of that nature such as construction and civil engineering, both the project design and the project implementation are susceptible to a very different set of criteria both in their conception, in their formulation and in their implementation. The World Bank for this reason does admit that the technical assistance projects aimed at institution building, which are much more similar to the types of projects that we are engaged in, were the most difficult.
Only 25 percent of 355 technical assistance projects in institution building, and I quote, "were assessed as having achieved their objectives". In another 25 percent they achieved negligible institutional results.
A final point on this aspect: the World Bank had an internal task force to review its technical assistance operations and it concluded in 1991 that technical assistance is (a) intrinsically difficult, it is laborious and staff-intensive relative to the money involved, and takes more time and effort to achieve the results than any other operational work; (b) it is difficult to design, and the achievements are not often easily measurable; (c) is directly affected by institutional, financial and other constraints existing in the beneficiary and the recipient countries and weaknesses related to difficulties in the Civil Services and local and administrative infrastructures.
Lastly, and this is most interesting as it is the conclusion of the World Bank task force, this technical assistance is critical to the success of national development efforts and to the Bank's lending programme. Even if the results are less than fully satisfactory, the Bank needs to have an expanded role in this area of technical assistance.
Mr Chairman, there is no satisfaction for anyone in what I have said except to say that we shall share the concern; the difficulties are real and are not imagined, the difficulties are encountered by all those who are engaged in this business of technical cooperation and assistance, and above all surely we can all agree that we must never cease or spare efforts to improve.
Mr Chairman, let me now turn to the specific question of the subject of ex-post evaluations. This was referred to by the distinguished representatives of the United Kingdom. I am glad he recognized that certainly we can and we will be interested in doing more ex-post evaluations on the understanding that they are funded and that the proper places for funding them are the projects themselves. So far, very few contributors to Trust Fund operations have been in the position to earmark such funds.
If I may express a tribute to the Netherlands, the Netherlands agreed to provide US$50 thousand to carry out an ex-post evaluation on farmer participation in one of the countries in which they had assisted through a Trust Fund contribution. We hope that others who are interested in ex-post evaluation will do likewise and certainly we would be interested in carrying out such activities.
A specific question was raised about why the results of evaluation on small-scale fisheries were not provided to the Committee on Fisheries. The remark is well taken, leave aside the question of timing because I do not want to make too big a point of that. The Committee on Fisheries which met in March of this year had a very full agenda, Mr Chairman, and this agenda
included an item on the review of the Fisheries Field Programme, but I have to admit the results of this evaluation were not submitted to it. I well take the point that in the future we should make sure that the results of such evaluation, not only in fisheries but in other technical fields, would be useful to draw to the attention of the relevant technical committee of the Council.
A specific question was asked and a suggestion made, I believe by the distinguished delegate of Finland, that in our work on statistics on food and nutrition and on nutrition standards we should collaborate with other organizations. The point is well taken and I am happy to confirm that all UN agencies have free access to, and are using, the FAO database for their work on socio-economic indicators. Thus the UNDPS' Human Development Report uses FAO data in 12 tables. The World Bank and WHO use FAO data on per caput food availability on self-sufficiency indicators, on food composition, and UN Statistical Office and UNCTAD use the FAO databases on trade in food commodities.
On our side equally we are very pleased to say that we use the data on wages and salaries from ILO, data on the gross domestic product and other macro-economic indicators from the UN Statistical office, data on malnourished children from UNICEF, data on illiteracy from Unesco, and we are all fortunate that there is an inter-secretariat body to facilitate such collaboration and coordination and that is the ACC Sub-Committee on Statistical Activities.
Mr Chairman, this brings me to the last point to which I would like to respond and that is the consideration of suggestions for improvement. My approach is really basically the same as my approach on the Programme Implementation Report. We have taken careful note of the wish for continued improvement. On that, I think, there can be no disagreement. You surely all wish, and expect, each Programme Evaluation Report to be better than the previous one.
Then there is the wish of some members who have specified what kind of improvement they would like to see. As I said in response to the debate on the PIR, we will consider every one of these suggestions. We will see the extent to which we can introduce them in the next report, how feasible it is, what the cost could be, and I am glad in this connection that you all bear in mind there is an effort involved and there is a cost involved, but the message is heard. It is the lines of the improvement which are important to us all and you have indicated the lines of further improvements and this brings me to my final comment on this subject.
Mr Chairman, please do not misunderstand me; I am not trying to give the impression that FAO is the best or FAO is better than anyone else but I say it very seriously that it would help us very much if there were similar evaluation reports in other organizations which contained the sort of desiderata which we would be pleased to take as a model. We are always glad to learn from others but I can tell you, unless I am mistaken, I have looked, and my colleagues have looked, of course, much more closely, at the evaluation reports of other Specialized Agencies and of the United Nations itself. It is for you to judge but I think that you can be proud that your Organization has given you among the best of such reports. What I also want to add is that the improvements which are indicated in your debate I do not find in any of the other reports. I wish I could find them, and I will look for them because in making improvements we would like to use the experience of others and even improve on it.
On the substantive points, may I make one plea?
In my introduction yesterday to the PIR, I reminded you that the last Conference had decided on the introduction of the Programme Implementation Report and the Programme Evaluation Report on an experimental basis for this biennium. Having heard your debate, I take it, and I now await your summing up to confirm, that the Conference wishes these two Reports to continue in the future. This is a matter just not for us in the Secretariat, but it is a matter for a Conference decision, which you will wish to record as you think fit.
Once again, thank you very much for your debate and for the reception given to this Report, and for your patience in allowing me to respond.
CHAIRMAN: I would first of all like to thank all of you for the very high level of debate and the observations that have been made. Obviously, it is not for the Chair to comment on the comments, but as a general remark I would like to thank all the delegations for the high level of the observations that were made on the Programme Evaluation Report during the debate we had this morning.
This was the first edition of the Programme Evaluation Report in this format, and I think that we are all agreed that this is a part of a full programme, or set of documents. There was emphasis on the complementarity of the four documents which Dr Shah referred to yesterday as "the quartet" - that is, the Programme Implementation Report, the Programme Evaluation Report, the Medium-Term Plan and the Programme of Work and Budget.
The quality of the Programme Evaluation Report which we went through this morning was generally very much appreciated. I think that most of the delegations that intervened - and I must stress that there were 27 delegations intervening in this morning's debate - have acknowledged and recognized the frankness and the candour with which the Secretariat has stressed some of the problems and difficulties, not only of the evaluation exercise in itself, but also the candour and frankness with which problems of specific projects were raised, and the importance of this for feedback into planning and programming.
There were a number of suggestions for improvements of future Programme Evaluation Reports. Among those I would mention the questions of assessment of impact, sustainability of results, value for money, and the degree to which programmes met targets.
Members also wished that more attention be given to links with other agencies, and I think that in his comments Dr Shah has given us a lot of interesting information about how other agencies promote their evaluations. He also referred to the fact that to a certain extent other agencies do not have the same streamlining, or perhaps the same strict demands or requests concerning programme evaluation.
There was concern about the weaknesses which were reviewed in the report, and one point was very much stressed. This concerned the question of project design and the effectiveness of projects. I think that this question should be kept under review as we evolve to the idea of having other Programme Evaluation Reports, which was a point raised by Dr Shah at the end of his remarks.
I think we can see also that there was general support, not only for the Evaluation Report, but also for the programmes which were selected for reporting and the programme evaluation. Remarks were made in terms of the different areas of the programme, but I would like to stress that a significant number of members have emphasized the importance of FAO's systems in improving national statistical capacity as well as in raising national capacity on trade analysis and for work on the trade issues which will follow up the Uruguay Round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations. Obviously, we must also be aware of the importance of avoiding duplication of work with other agencies. I am thinking especially, not only of GATT, but also of the International Trade Centre and UNCTAD in this matter.
The question of pests - pest control, migratory pests, and pesticide safety - also received mention in various interventions.
I would like to end these comments by suggesting that, although this was not clearly stated in all the interventions this morning, the exercise of this Programme Evaluation Report, combined with the Programme Implementation Report and analysis of what to do in the future, must continue and I would suggest that this would be considered by the Members of our Drafting Committee, in the sense that it is not Commission II. However, the Conference itself should make a decision on the continuation of these evaluation reports and exercises in the future.
It is also obvious that the evaluation exercise is directly linked to a very, very simple question that was indirectly raised by many delegations -"O.K., we have an evaluation, we have an implementation report and an evaluation report - so what do we do from evaluation?" After all, "evaluation" - we can have many concepts, many ideas about evaluation, but the important thing about the exercise is to take up the lesson to have an even finer tuning of what to do from here to the future, and I think the Conference is now in a position to work on a set of recommendations, taking in the excellent work done by the Secretariat under Dr Shah's direction for this Evaluation Report that we have just discussed.
In thanking you for your patience and attention, I would also like to say that since we have advanced consideration of Item 10 on our Agenda, it is now my intention - and I have consulted with the Chairman of this Commission - to go on to Item 11 of the Agenda, the Medium-Term Plan. Conduct of Item 11 will be the responsibility of our colleague from the Netherlands, Mr Janus, whom I shall call to this Chair.
I thank you very much for your attention and for your cooperation in the discussion of Item 10 and trust that we will keep in touch with the work of the Commission.
Mrs Janet F. BITEGEKO (Tanzania): Mr Chairman, I would like to congratulate you for chairing this session. Since it is the first time for my delegation to take the floor in this Commission allow me through you to congratulate the Chairman of Commission II and the two Vice-chairmen on their election.
Mr Chairman, I would like to thank Mr Shah for his brief and concise introduction and the Secretariat for a thorough document.
Mr Chairman, my delegation welcomes the document and commends FAO for its in-depth review. We are satisfied with Part I of the document and the encouraging results made in crop protection statistics and small-scale
fisheries. Efforts made in IPPC, IPM and Migrating Pests are notable and should be strengthened. The strategy of promoting IPM through people participation at farm level are encouraging although it requires strengthening of pest management structures and a lot of technical assistance and training of various experts. My delegation also welcomes FAO's achievement in the safe use of pesticides.
Mr Chairman, my delegation thinks that it would be useful also to review programmes geared toward sustainable agriculture. The Tanzania delegation thinks it is important for FAO to direct its efforts especially in the integration of food security actions with environmental protection especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
Mr Chairman, Part II of the report is very interesting especially the review of field projects. My delegation feels that there is room for FAO and nations to correct the weaknesses that are documented. The success of projects depends greatly on good project designs and implementation. We feel involvement of project beneficiaries at all stages would guarantee project success and sustainability. We also recommend privitization and continuous objective evaluation.
Mr Chairman, the involvement of FAO in international trade is commendable and should be continued.
Finally Mr Chairman, my delegation wish the recommendations and actions contained in the document will influence and strengthen FAO's activities in the future. Thank you.
Morad Ali ARDESHIRI (Iran, Islamic Republic of) : In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful, Mr Chairman, I wish to begin my statement by expressing my delegation's appreciation to the Secretariat for providing us such a comprehensive and very useful document on Programme Evaluation Report 1992-93. Particularly, for mentioning the result of a project evaluation which has been implemented in our country, namely, project IRA/86/004.
Mr Chairman, in general we fully support and welcome the Programme Evaluation Report, and it must be continued in more appropriate manner. However, in our view, FAO as a technical organization should emphasize on the quality of technical works are implementing, in order to achieve the immediate and development objectives of projects implemented, and we are of strong opinion that this factor is an important one, in comparing with the other factors which have been considered in programme evaluation. In this context, the quality of consultancy and specialized experts who are employed for project formulation and implementation can play an important role. Thank you.1
P.R. Janus, Vice-chairman of Commission II, took the Chair
P.R. Janus, Vice-Président de la Commission II, assume la présidence
Ocupa la presidencia P.R. Janus, Vicepresidente de la Comisión II
¹ Statement inserted in the Verbatim records on request
Ladies and gentlemen, distinguished delegates, I would like to reconvene and start Agenda Item 11.
However, before we start this Agenda Item I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for having elected me as one of your Vice Chairmen. I would also like to thank delegates who have extended their congratulations to me in this respect for having done so.
We have two documents for this Agenda Item: first of all, the Medium-Term Plan 1994-99, contained in document C 93/23. Secondly, there is another document relevant to this Item, which is an extract from the Report of the 103rd Session of the Council which took place in June 1993 contained in document C 93/LIM/10.
I would like to remind you that this is now the second time that an FAO Conference has discussed a Medium-Term Plan after it has been introduced. The first time was in the Conference of 1991, where we discussed the Medium-Term Plan 1992-97. To refresh your memories on what the Conference concluded on that Medium-Term Plan I will read out to you the general conclusion on the concept of a Medium-Term Plan and its usefulness as a tool for the Membership and the Secretariat.
In the Report of the 1991 Conference, in paragraph 157 it states: "The Conference welcomed the Medium-Term Plan as a major policy synthesis document responding to the terms of Resolution 10/89". This was the Resolution in the 1991 Conference which asked for the Medium-Term Plan to be introduced. It goes on: "The Conference recalled that the reintroduction of a formal long-term programming process which would enhance the participation of Member Nations in shaping the long-term orientations of the Organization was one of the key outcomes of the FAO Review. While a number of suggestions were made as to possible improvements in the format of the document, the Conference felt that the first version of the Medium-Term Plan was responsive to the expectation that it should facilitate a constructive dialogue among Member Nations. Its complementarity to the Programme of Work and Budget was highlighted. The Conference suggested that the FAO Regional Conferences should also have a greater involvement in the discussion of long-term priorities."
"The Conference agreed that the document provided a comprehensive and realistic basis for assessing the context of FAO's action over the medium term. It recalled that the primary purpose of the Medium-Term Plan was to serve as a tool for priority-setting during its period of coverage".
I suppose this gives the general sense of what the Conference in 1991 thought of this important tool. In the LIM document I referred to earlier I would like to draw your attention particularly to paragraph 139 which indicates in which fora the Medium-Term Plan 1994-99 has already been the subject of discussion. I would like now to give the floor to Mr Shah to introduce.Item 11 to you.
V.J. SHAH (Deputy Director-General, Office of Programme/ Budget and Evaluation) : I would like to follow very closely on your own thought process because in drawing attention to the conclusions of the last
Conference on the previous Medium-Term Plan, you remind me to point out to this Session of the Conference the directives which were given to the Director-General in preparing this Medium-Term Plan. Again referring to the Conference Report of the 26th Session as you did, the Conference requested the Director-General to arrange for the submission of the next Medium-Term Plan covering the period 1994-99 to the 27th Session of the Conference, through the Programme and Finance Committees and the Council, taking into account the views of the Regional Conferences and the Technical Committees of the Council. "It agreed" the quotation goes on "It agreed that the next version should be more concise but still self-contained document concentrating on policy issues and reflecting major development" I will stop there.
Firstly then it is my privilege to present the Medium-Term Plan of the Director-General for the period 1994-99. He has scrupulously carried out the directives of the Conference in submitting this plan through the Programme and Finance Committees and the Council. He has also sought the views of the Regional Conferences which were held in 1992 and the views of the technical committees of the Council. At each of these meetings he presented a document on the Mediun-Term perspectives and priorities to which the Regional Conferences and technical committees could react, the Regional Conferences from the perspective of their regions, the technical committees from the perspectives of their sectoral area and these views in these instances were then taken into account in the formulation of this plan. I hope the Conference will also be pleased that according to the directives this Medium-Term Plan document is quite a bit shorter than the last one. It is self-contained and we hope that it is readable and responsive to the requests of the Conference that were indicated two years ago.
My introduction will be extremely brief because as you pointed out it is the debate that you Member Nations have on the Medium-Term Plan that you forsee for your Organization that is important. The Director-General in submitting this plan has only one wish, that he has given you a good basis for such a dialogue. His Introduction to the Medium-Term Plan is reflective of this sentiment because it may be noticed that there is, if I may say, a very personal touch to his Introduction recognizing that this was the last Medium-Term Plan that he would be submitting to the Conference. He has chosen to share his own thoughts and his own perception and the introduction of the Director-General is very much the introduction of the Director-General. With all respect I submit it on his behalf for the attention of the Conference.
The remaining sections, chapters, I hope will be found stimulating: the context of FAO's actions, the cross-sectoral priorities, the programme priorities and the regional priorities. Let the text speak for itself. I will not try to comment at this stage. I would be much more interested in responding to whatever aspects you may wish me to respond to but there is one aspect that I would like to draw your attention to and that is the very last chapter on resources. Some of you who had the opportunity to examine the previous Medium-Term Plan may recall that in that previous version the Director-General did address the issue of resources but in a very calm way. He recognized that there were some Member Nations who wished that the Medium-Term Plan should be linked to an indication of future resource requirements but he equally recognized that there were some Member Nations who did not want that because they felt that even an indication of future requirements might be considered too binding. So in that first plan he had put forward resource indications in the form of desiderata and so as not to
force any debate on any actual amounts he had presented this information in two different ways, one was to say if you accept a certain nominal growth in the Programme of Work and Budget over the next six years what would be the resulting possible allocation of resources and the other way was to say if you want to envisage the future in terms of no programme increase, just a percentage distribution of resources at a no-growth level, what would be the possible or what could be the possible allocation of resources. Well, as the Conference found there was no agreement on any one course and that is why in this Medium-Term Plan the Director-General says quite clearly he does not wish to encourage divisiveness of this issue. He does not because he fully respects all points of view expressed. In his opinion it would seem relevant to be able to gauge the broad impact in financial terms of proposed courses of action. However, so as not to distract on the policy dialogue which this plan should stimulate he has not included any resource projections for the future. However, in looking at the future it is desirable also to look at the past and that is why in this very brief chapter of two pages, Chapter 5, the Director-General has considered it pertinent to look at the past three biennia in terms of the approved Programme of Work and Budget, what was approved by the Conference and what were the programme savings, programme cuts which in fact represented a programme decrease. These are matters of fact. Every figure given there is a factual figure. On this issue, as you will have noticed from the document C 93/LIM/10 which gives the views of the Council, the Conference of course,may wish to note that the Council in general agreed on the usefulness of purely indicative resort projections for future versions, so the matter again is really in the hands of the Conference. We will do as you desire for the future.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you Mr Shah for your introduction. I would now like to start the debate on Agenda Item 11.
Adel Mahmoud ABOUL-NAGA (Egypt) (Original language Arabic) : At the outset I would like to congratulate you on your election as Vice-chairman of this important Commission of the General Conference. I wish also to thank Mr Shah for his concise and valuable presentation of this document.
Mr Shah has referred to a number of important issues, namely that this document has been the result of a major consultation process amongst the Technical Committees and as a result of the recommendations of the Regional Conferences. In addition to that this document has been reviewed by the Programme Committee and then by the Council in its last Session. However, in this contents I would like to reiterate some points which have been discussed within the framework of the Programme Committee and also within the framework of the Council in its last Session.
Amongst these points I can refer to the support for the activities of the Organization in giving higher importance to the cooperation with NGOs and the many organizations outside of the UN. Secondly, we hope that the Organization's support given to the East European countries would not be to the detriment of the African region. As for the intersectoral activities I would like to confirm here the importance of technical and economic cooperation amongst developing countries in addition to the need to further the cooperation with these countries in the field of sustainable development.
As for the priorities, the programme of priorities, we do support what is contained in this document concerning fisheries and forestry in addition to the need to increase the budget allocated to agriculture. Furthermore, we would like to stress the need to attach great importance to the research work in the field of plant genetic resources. In addition we would like to support the activities of the Organization in the field of international Conventions and Treaties.
We would also like to stress the importance of the Organization's contribution to the strengthening of research and exchange of information. Finally, concerning the regional issues and priorities, I would like to focus once again on the need to give higher priority to Africa.
C. THOMSEN (Denmark) : Mr Chairman, on this item of the Agenda I have the honour to speak on behalf of the Nordic countries, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
The Nordic countries very much welcome the fact that the Medium-term Plan of the Organization is presented in a separate and self-contained document (C 93/23). We agree with the Director-General that the discussions of this plan is an indispensable feature of the policy dialogue among the membership for the purpose of steering the course of the Organization. We do in fact consider the preparation and presentation of the plan to be one of the most important outcomes of the Review process.
As you will know, the Nordic countries have for a long time been advocating that medium-term planning is an essential element in the process of ensuring a better priority setting in the work programme of the Organization. In our opinion, it is through the discussion of the Medium-term Plan that member countries have the best possibility of guiding FAO's action over the coming years.
We much appreciate the efforts which have gone into the preparation of this important document. The Secretariat should be commended for this accomplishment and for the coordination with the document on the Programme of Work and Budget for the next biennium. The plan document provides a comprehensive picture of the tasks and challenges as well as the activities planned by the Organization. Its preparation has no doubt provided a good opportunity for renewed deliberations and clarifications of the plans for the future.
At the same time we realize that it is a demanding task and in spite of the good intentions it is not always so easy to get a clear picture of the relative priorities when going through the three levels of priorities, i.e. across sectors, within programmes and by regions. In particular, we find it regrettable that nothing at all could be said about the planned relative deployment of resources.
As stated by the Director-General in his introduction, the whole UN System is facing a period of scarce resources and there is a likelihood of reduced resources put at the disposal of FAO. In such a situation it becomes even more important that the Regular and the Field Programmes supplement each other, and that there is an optimal use of the scarce resources throughout the Organization.
In view of the limited capacity of the FAO, it is essential to concentrate the resources available in a limited number of areas, if substantial
results of efforts are to be obtained. The Organization should therefore be careful not to attempt to cover every possible subject, and always try to sharpen its priorities for practical action as much as possible. In this connection we lack more clear indications of lower priority areas, as there will have to be some in this category also.
In this respect we look forward to the continued efforts toward increased efficiency and elimination of marginal activities resulting from: Review of the Organization which took place some time ago. This is a point referred to by the Ministers of Agriculture and the Nordic countries in their statements in Plenary.
With regard to the future fate of the plan document, we find it most important that there will be a regular and continuous consideration in each biennium of the Medium-term Plan for the Organization. On the basis of a "rolling" plan. It is desirable that it be presented in a self-contained document, while at the same time avoiding unnecessary repetition. I might add here, as a case in point, there is a negotiation of the overall objectives of Member Nations which perhaps could be eliminated in the future. We shall look forward to hearing about the results of the ongoing review of the numerous existing Special Action Programmes and how these results will affect the activities of the FAO. A more precise discussion of relative priorities should form an important part of the deliberations of the Governing Bodies. In our opinion, this also applies to indications in relative financial terms of the implications of the proposed courses of action.
We fully share the opinion of the Director-General that this would normally form the essence of any plan. It is not satisfactory just to consider the total impact of the plan and then hope for sufficient resources to be made available.
Finally, we should like again to stress as a guiding principle that the activities of the FAO should continue to form an integral part of the collaborative efforts of member countries as well as the efforts of other international organizations and agencies involved in food and agriculture. This in our view is imperative in order to obtain optimal use of the resources available. At the end of the day, it is the results achieved that matter more than anything else. We will turn to these issues in more detail under Agenda Item 12, Programme of Work and Budget 1994-95.
MA GENG-OU (China) (Original language Chinese): I would like to thank you, Sir, for giving me this opportunity to take the floor on this item and, first of all, I would like to thank the Secretariat on the preparation of this document C 93/23 giving us details of the Medium-term Plan 1994-99. I would wish to thank Mr Shah for introducing it.
This looks at the prospects before us and the challenges that the world has to face in the whole area of agricultural development and it identifies cross-sectorial priorities within FAO for the next three biennia and we think this is extremely useful. There are now some major problems to be solved in a variety of regions and these are also clearly identified in this document. It is a concise document yet comprehensive because it brings out all the main issues before us and this gives us an excellent basis for our consideration.
We have noted that for some time now the international community and the governments of many countries have been making tireless efforts to combat hunger and poverty and to promote agricultural development throughout the world. Major successes have been achieved but nevertheless hunger and poverty are still with us and are a matter of grave concern. There are substantial constraints militating against the production of food and agriculture in many countries. In addition, population growth on the one hand, degradation of the environment on the other, make the problems more acute and it means we have to face an increasingly serious challenge in connection with agricultural development.
FAO has a comparative advantage in this field, of course, and FAO has identified in this connection the priority areas for its work and they include sustainable development, advice on policies, people's participation in development, the struggle against poverty and malnutrition and technical and economic cooperation in developing countries, in other words, TCDC and ECDC and we fully share the view that these are the priorities to be pursued. We are convinced that to do away with hunger and poverty and to ensure sustainable agricultural development we must strengthen the capacities of developing countries themselves. This is the only way. These countries must become self-sufficient and this is why we think that in formulating these programmes FAO should pay particular attention to the training of staff in developing countries as well as the technical assistance and advice on policy matters. The Organization would make efforts to contribute to the improvement of the environment so as to be conducive to improved developing countries as well as promoting technical and economic cooperation among developing countries and also between developing countries and developed countries. Thank you, Sir.
D.A. TROTMAN (United Kingdom) : The United Kingdom Delegation would like to endorse much of what is presented in the Medium-term Plan 1994-99.
We welcome in particular:
- the concern for the environment and sustainable rural development;
- the emphasis on policy analysis and formulation;
- the integration of social and institutional aspects into the programmes
(including the role of women); and
- the recognition of the role of the private sector in the development of
agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
The UK, amongst other members, noted at COAG that there are uncomfortable trade-offs that must be recognized between poverty alleviation and the sustainable management of resources. Many of the rural poor in developing countries live in ecologically vulnerable areas. The recognition, in para. 16, that FAO has an increasing role in helping member countries to estimate the environmental cost of policies and to help formulate new policies that minimise these conflicts is welcomed.
The UK Delegation urges FAO to continue to play a full role in follow-up activities to UNCED in collaboration with other UN agencies and international bodies. We note in para. 103 that FAO will continue to seek and expand cooperation with NGOs. NGOs and farmers' organizations must participate more fully in the formulation and implementation of development programmes.
Turning now to Poverty Alleviation, Nutrition and Food Security in para. 149: The ICN Declaration was quite right not to seek to specify new global targets for Nutrition. It is for each country to establish its own goals and a plan of action to achieve them, based on its own circumstances. It is clear that many countries will require assistance in this process for which FAO has a major role to play. It has particular expertise in data collection so that beneficiaries of direct nutrition intervention programmes can be better targeted. It is also well placed to advise mass-media communication techniques in the promotion of better health and nutrition education.
Looking now to the Programme Priorities in Chapter 3: The Soil and Water Conservation programme is of increasing importance. Emphasis needs to be placed on matters of land rights, ownership and tenure which are the major issues bearing on the introduction of improved land management practices. As the rural population increases conflicts arise over the use of scarce resources. FAO must, through policy guidance, assist Member Nations to adapt existing land use systems to meet changing needs.
In many newly industrialized countries, water scarcity is already recognized as a major constraint to development, and water-related conflict of interests is also a certain issue in the medium term. Para. 187 should emphasize the need for strategic thinking on water resource allocation at national level and also the need for appropriate institutional strengthening, including moves to cost recovery. Water use efficiency is mentioned and improved management in this context should concentrate on programme and extension work rather than on the traditional project bias. The primary activities should include action to improve and increase the conjunctive use of groundwater and surface water resources.
Turning now to the Fisheries Programme: the proposed activities in support of fisheries development and management closely follow the priorities agreed at COFI in 1993, with increased attention to five areas of FAO work. We support the clear objectives established in the programme, and we would encourage FAO to implement a programme to monitor performance against achievements of these objectives and the impact of such achievements. Progress toward the objectives should be specifically reported to COFI each biennium.
With reference to paragraph 235, in terms of overall priority, we would emphasize the particularly important role of FAO in the collection, processing and dissemination of fisheries information, data and statistics. This is a role for which FAO is uniquely positioned, and the quality of its performance will greatly influence the ability of developing countries to improve fisheries management.
The UK Delegation studied with particular interest the sections in Chapters 2 and 3 on cross-sectoral and programme priorities. These set out clearly the priorities for any series of programmes which aim to increase food security and the levels of nutrition globally. However, given the inevitable constraints of funding it will be necessary to ensure that FAO concentrates on what it does best within these priority areas. Any other approach would be to make less than optimal impact. In considering any activity or series of activities FAO needs to ask itself whether money could be better spent elsewhere within the Organization.
We therefore commend the FAO on the production of the Medium-term Plan. It will provide a useful background in the debates of the Technical Committees in early 1995 in formulating the work programmes of the next biennium.
Ruall C. HARRIS (Barbados) : May I begin by congratulating you and your colleagues on your appointment to your respective posts in this Commission.
With regard to the Medium-term Plan 1994-99, those of us who are in the Programme Committee and other Committees of the Organization have discussed over the past year the contents of this Programme, and I wish to congratulate the Secretariat on the production of this particular document. I do not want to repeat the statements which have been made in the various Committees, but I wish to emphasize the programme for the island states which is referred to in paragraphs 112 and 113 on page 26.
It seems to me that FAO must go further, and establish a programme that is more comprehensive in scope for all island states across the globe. You will recall that FAO sponsored the first Conference on Island States in Barbados last year. Next year we in Barbados will also host the Global Conference on Sustainable Development for the Island States. I know that some time during this week there will be an informal gathering of the island states to discuss the second FAO Conference, which will take place in the latter part of 1994. I believe that the outcome of these consultations on island states will inform and influence the FAO programme, from which FAO could develop a more comprehensive programme for the island states.
The other point I would like to make is in respect of regional cooperation. In paragraph 441 mention is made of the cooperation which is expected to take place between ECLAC and FAO. I would like to emphasize that there are other regional and subregional organizations whose scope and purpose is agriculture, forestry and fisheries. I believe that in this respect FAO must have a greater cooperation with regional and subregional organizations in an effort to ensure effective cooperation and rationalization of their efforts in the subregions with respect to agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
As you are aware, the inter-American Ministers of Agriculture met in Mexico earlier this year, and indeed mandated the newly appointed Director-General of IICA, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, to discuss with the new Director-General of FAO a cooperation programme by which the two organizations could develop programmes for the Latin American and Caribbean region, I think this is the right direction in which to go.
Finally, with respect to resources: I know that the Medium-term Plan does not envisage any - or does not mention really - the kind of resources which would be needed for the Medium-term Plan. It is my belief that governments should in fact be aware that the Medium-term Plan is going to cost something, and I believe that it is necessary for us to indicate early that there is going to be a cost of the Medium-term Plan.
I have been involved in discussing the strategy for a subregional organization in the Caribbean for up to the year 2000. We felt there that it was necessary for governments to be aware that this strategy - the programme that would be adopted by that particular organization - is going to cost, and I believe that it was necessary for FAO and governments to
know that the Medium-term Plan will cost something, if only in an indicative way.
Nedilson R. JORGE (Brazil): Brazil has already expressed its points of view on this item during the last session of the Council. I shall therefore be very brief, as I do not want to be repetitive.
In Chapter One I would like to stress the importance of the subject dealt with in paragraphs 54 to 58 on page 11. FAO should continue to strengthen and make use of each country's own capacities toward national execution and management of projects.
With respect to Chapter Two, Brazil supports the five major cross-sectoral priorities and the proposed actions. We would however like to have more in-depth coverage of forestry issues.
Again, in Chapter Three, we would like to have seen a more clearly established priority toward forestry, in terms of both plant activities and resources allocation.
I would also like to stress our full support of activities related to technology transfer to, and between, developing countries.
With regard to Chapter Five, Brazil believes that future versions of this document should contain a projection of resources priorities, either in terms of percentage of total budget or of planned net increases and decreases.
Marcos NIETO LARA (Cuba): He pedido la palabra para hacer una pregunta. Creo que el debate ha avanzado rápidamente. Si seguimos así podrían terminar los trabajos de la Comisión tal vez este fin de semana. Realmente, algunos delegados hemos tenido que ausentarnos de la Sala porque están nuestros Ministros haciendo sus respectivas intervenciones en el debate general.
Quería preguntarle si usted podría darme la oportunidad para intervenir mañana en este tema, y no dejar cerrado el debate por el día de hoy. Creo que hay tiempo suficiente y habrá también muchos delegados que se encuentren tal vez en la situación que yo tengo.
CHAIRMAN: In reply to the question by the delegate of Cuba, I am certainly not closing the debate, nor even closing the speakers' list, but I had understood that he might wish to take the floor at this moment. We will add your name to the speakers' list for tomorrow.
Are there any other delegations who would like to put their names on the speakers' list for tomorrow, although the speakers' list will remain open so you can indicate whether you would like to intervene on this debate tomorrow morning?
The list of speakers we have so far is: Cuba, Kenya, Haiti, Philippines, India, Switzerland, Germany, France, Cape Verde, Libya, Korea, United States, Canada, Argentina, El Salvador, Poland, Japan, Iran, Netherlands and Romania.
In connection with the Papal Audience which will take place tomorrow, there is a slight change in the schedule. We shall start at 9 a.m. and continue until 10.30 a.m. We will resume in the afternoon at 2.30 p.m., as usual, and we will have a 4 p.m. break.
If no delegation wishes to take the floor I will adjourn the meeting.
The meeting rose at 17.15 hours.
La séance est levée à 17 h 15.
Se levanta la sesión a las 17.15 horas.