Mrs Kajonwan ITHARATTANA (Thailand): Regarding the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and World Food Summit Plan of Action, I think that we all agree, in principle, to achieving food security for all and an eradication of hunger and malnutrition. Therefore, the implementation of programmes needs to be carried out to achieve these objectives. In this regard, a follow-up to the World Food Summit, will help us to assess the progress of the action.
However, due to limited budget, some countries may not implement the programmes as planned. This would lead to a failure of their programmes and affect the objective of food security accordingly.
Meanwhile, the national food security information system and also, food insecurity and vulnerability information and mapping system at national level will be carried out, due to World Food Summit follow-up. To implement these activities, financial burden will be borne to the governments. We think that the burden should not be borne to the individual governments, particularly, to developing countries.
George APOSTOIU (Roumanie): Sur la question du suivi du Sommet mondial de l'alimentation, beaucoup d'options ont déjà été faites par de nombreux membres du Conseil. Je voudrais, si vous le voulez bien, en ajouter encore quelques-unes. La question soumise à notre examen s'inscrit dans la logique d'une conclusion commune. La sécurité alimentaire de l'humanité sera conditionnée par le développement des capacités de production agricole et le sens de la solidarité nationale et internationale.
La Roumanie attache une grande importance aux décisions du Sommet et est préoccupée de trouver le cadre adéquat pour leur mise en application. La responsabilité nationale est engagée; mon pays conçoit d'assurer sa sécurité alimentaire par le développement et la mise en valeur de son propre potentiel ainsi que par sa participation à la coopération internationale.
Le moment opportun d'une évaluation significative sera saisi pour informer la FAO par un rapport. Ma délégation considère que le cadre du Comité pour la sécurité alimentaire est adéquat pour les échanges de vue sur les progrès enregistrés dans différents pays en matière de sécurité alimentaire. Les informations et/ou les rapports restent de compétence et de responsabilité nationales. D'autre part, pour la Roumanie, les engagements pris par nos Chefs d'Etat et de gouvernements respectifs à Rome ont une valeur égale. Ils peuvent nous inspirer dans nos efforts visant à trouver des solutions aux problèmes de la sécurité alimentaire. Pour nous, la Déclaration de Rome et le Plan d'action définissent une perspective encourageante et offrent un large éventail de possibilités de collaboration qui peuvent être concrétisées dans l'esprit d'un partenariat réel sur le plan international.
Kezimbira Lawrence MIYINGO (Uganda): Uganda has identified areas that the agriculture sector needs to solve in order to fulfil the World Food Summit goals. Even before the World Food Summit recommendations were made, Uganda, through its Head of State, had pledged to the nation at the last general elections in May 1996, to see that agriculture is modernized and will become the basis for poverty eradication from Ugandans. Every home was to be self sufficient in food. We started the preparation for the food security before the World Food Summit.
The Minister of Agriculture organized a retreat in which it invited all stakeholders of the sector and reviewed the way forward to increase production and poverty eradication.
Our political organization and governance, which has decentralized power and has permitted participatory approach to all stakeholders from grass root, has discussed a document that is to be the way forward to modernizing agriculture and achieving food self-sufficiency. Forecast has been directed at five important areas, namely, the provision of water for production, that is, water for live stock and water for irrigation. This is an area that the special programme for food security could greatly assist Uganda.
Two, we have forecasted the provision of high yielding planting and stocking material for our farmers. The raw productivity has often been a result of planting low yielding seeds reserved from harvest of previous years. We intend to also improve the genetical potential by indigenous breeds which form 95 percent of livestock population. Uganda, therefore, supports the genetical resource discussions that are now going on under FAO.
Three, we have identified that the control of livestock diseases and crop diseases, is one of the limiting factors to food security. Today, Uganda is preparing for a nationwide campaign that will see the entire cattle population vaccinated against contagious bovine pleuro-pneumonia and rinderpest, thanks to the promised assistance by EMPRES of FAO in the provision of Rinderpest Vaccine.
We have also identified that there is a gap between strengthening of research, extension and farmer linkages, to ensure that research production figures are realized and are transferred into the field. It is not uncommon to see research centres which are producing results but the surrounding areas cannot even have use of up to ten percent of what is achieved in the research areas. My government is determined to see that the research is transferred to the grass root in form of the demonstration units which will be based at farmers' units and for the others to see.
Marketing is one of the main constraints that leads to reduced production and the Government is focussing seriously, on this, to ensure that there will be a market for all that is produced. We are very encouraged by the fact that we have regional markets developing like the East African Cooperation, Comesa and with these, coupled with international markets we are sure to double our production and therefore, bridge the gap of regional food insecurity. My Government has taken a deliberate policy to improve the road network in the country and we will spend US$ 800 million on this ten-year programme. This work has already started.
I would like to turn on to the comment on the Special Programme for Food Security. This project is well intended and very clearly elaborated in the document SPFS, Document 4, Revision 1. His Excellency, President Yoweri Museveni cited this project as a very beneficial project for developing countries. This was when the Director-General paid a visit to Uganda during his tour of Africa. My President, expressed a deep interest in the project and requested the Director-General to furnish him with further details. The Director-General in his letter to the President, reference DG 86/539, supplied the details. I must, therefore, restate Uganda's full support for this particular project.
The developing countries will not be able to produce enough food and survive if dependent on only rain. This project will greatly benefit the developing countries. Yes, participation should be at their request but if FAO sees that the programme will lead to food security in a country, even if it does not request it, let it be shown the benefit and be attracted to take it up. After all, we have seen instances where, even military intervention has been forced on nations in the name of democracy, why not in the name of food security so that the set goals of reducing the number of people without adequate food is reduced by half by the year 2015.
Ms Κ. GINWALA (South Africa): In intervening at this meeting, for the first time, our delegation wishes to welcome you to the Chair and to congratulate you on the able manner in which you are once again conducting the proceedings of Council. We also wish to congratulate Algeria, Argentina and Romania on their election to assist you in this task. We appreciate your welcoming South Africa as a Council Member and commit ourselves to fulfilling our obligation in this regard, towards the Organization and Africa, as best as we can.
In response to your appeal for brevity and because we believe Agenda Items 4 and 5 are interrelated, my delegation has opted to make one statement concerning the current world food situation and follow-up to the World Food Summit.
Our thanks go to the Secretariat for the useful background documents they prepared for these discussions. As pointed out by a number of our speakers, the current world food situation is characterized by both positive and negative elements. As an African country, South Africa is particularly concerned about the huge efforts that still remain to achieve food self-sufficiency on this Continent.
While we recognize that the main responsibility to achieve food security lies with individual nations, it is important to emphasize the fundamental role international aid and development agencies can play in this regard. It is thus ironic and extremely disquieting that international food and development aid is decreasing, at a time, when ways of assisting developing countries to overcome their difficulties have probably never been better understood.
Hard-earned experience has taught us about the complexity of the food security equation and that a multisectoral integrated approach needs to be adopted to achieve positive results.
In our view, FAO's mandate requires it to assist developing countries, particularly the LIFDCs, to move towards food security by achieving the right balance between increased food production and market led agricultural reform. The need for FAO to focus on these two areas can thus not be over emphasized. There is a high priority for FAO to assist developing countries, analyze the implications of Uruguay Round requirements on their economies, thereby enabling them to formulate appropriate agricultural and rural development policies within a context of trade liberalization and globalization.
In this regard, South Africa is well on its way to satisfying Uruguay Round requirements for agriculture. We believe trade and market liberalization will have beneficial effects on agricultural production and food security. We thus support other delegations who have appealed to major producer and consumer nations to reduce their tariff barriers and subsidies in the interest of more liberal international agricultural trade.
We would point out that the restructuring of agricultural trade in South Africa, is being conducted in collaboration with other countries in southern Africa, to avoid major dislocation to individual economies within the sub-region. This is a complicated task requiring indepth economic and institutional analysis which is often beyond the capacity of developing nations. We believe that FAO has an important role to play in assisting sub-regions to restructure their agricultural economies.
South Africa considers that the World Food Summit successfully raised an awareness of global food security issues and provides a useful framework to pursue the objectives set in Rome. We concur with facilitating, supportive and monitoring role for FAO agreed to by the CFS.
South Africa is in the process of pursuing its food security objectives by shifting from a policy of national food self sufficiency which left a good thirty percent of households with inadequate food, to a policy of household and national food security. As part of the country's reconstruction and
development programme, a number of production employment and nutritional programmes have been targeted at specific food insecure groups.
More fundamental and permanent change is being sought through the formulation of the previously mentioned food security policy which should be ready later this year. A food security policy unit is leading this inclusive and participatory process designed to provide direction to future food security programmes and South Africa's role regarding food security at sub-regional, regional and international levels. My delegation wishes to recognize expert advice provided by FAO during the process.
Another major challenge facing South Africa is the need to provide meaning to Article XXVII of our new Constitution, which includes, and I quote "everyone's right to have access to sufficient food and water". Here again, my Government will be seeking assistance from FAO in the formulation of legislative institutional and other measures, needed to provide for the implementation of the right to food and water within the a developmental context.
Regarding TeleFood structures have been put in place to sensitize public opinion in South Africa about food security matters and to contribute to the international fund raising exercise in the interest of global food security.
In conclusion, national governments and civil society, clearly have made major responsibilities in trying to achieve the objectives of the world food security. It is also patently clear that many developing countries still need considerable assistance from international agencies, such as FAO, to meet these objectives. My delegation hopes that this will be taken into account by all, when considering the budget level required by FAO to fulfil its economic and humanitarian function.
K. RAJAN (India): We join the other distinguished delegations in congratulating the Chairman in extremely ably conducting the affairs of this FAO consultation and compliment the Secretariat on a very comprehensive document which has been submitted.
We, in India, have been able to recover from a slight set back we received in food grains production in 1995-96 and have achieved almost record levels of grain production during the year 1996-97 with production touching 193 million tonnes.
We are conscious of the fact, and believe for food security meaning, ensuring economic and physical access of food to every segment of the society. There has been emphasis on improving productivity and production of food grains within the country, particularly important to build up the purchasing power amongst the poor, particularly the rural poor. We have launched an array of poverty elevation programmes and measures in order to build up the purchasing power amongst the rural poor.
In the country, following the World Food Summit, there was also launched a programme for targeting access of food grains to the rural poor, at a differentiated price, compared to the normal public distribution system. This has been launched very recently. We are also conscious of the need to bring about a greater cooperation amongst the different countries and to share the Indian experience in building up the food grains production and the extensive public distribution system which we have launched in the country.
In a large country like India it is but necessary that the food security and the food management will have to be centred around ensuring almost virtual self-sufficiency in food grains. It is true that following the recent liberalization, many of the trade barriers are being removed or are in the process of being dismantled.
We would like to ensure that as a part of the global commitment we will do in our part to see that the world is free from hunger.
Brett HUGHES (Australia): Australia would like to make two brief points. FAO will need to ensure that its follow-up activities are effectively evaluated, particularly against the Organization's core normative functions which remains the Organization's key means of meeting the Summit's objectives. In this regard, FAO should concentrate on utilizing existing normative programmes and mechanisms to achieve follow-up.
Australia would support concerns raised at the April Committee on Food Security meeting, regarding the need for full transparency of resources directed to Summit's follow-up for all programmes including the Special Programme on Food Security and the need for effective evaluation of all programmes, to ensure that they are meeting the Organization's objectives. In this regard Australia welcomes FAO's undertaking for a clear identification of the likely extent of such resource flows.
Australia would also emphasize the in undertaking follow-up activities, it is important the FAO recognizes that this will occur in an environment of budget pressures, due to budget constraints in Member countries and given the on going pressures for further efficiencies and savings within the Organization, FAO will need to ensure maximum benefits to its Members from follow-up activities.
Moussa Bocar LY (Sénégal): Je voulais juste ajouter un point. Je crois qu'il faut se féliciter que le Secrétariat de la FAO ait engagé avec le Haut Commissaire des Nations Unies pour les droits de l'homme des négociations pour aboutir à un protocole d'accord que nous attendons avec beaucoup d'intérêt. Nous avons également noté dans le cadre du dernier CSA les contacts avec la Commission des droits de l'homme et nous espérons pouvoir recevoir le plus tôt possible des informations sur la manière dont la Commission des droits de l'homme a pu traiter la mise en oeuvre de l'objectif 7.4, le droit à l'alimentation ou à la nourriture. Je crois que la Commission s'est également réunie en avril dernier; nous voudrions également, le moment venu, avoir des éléments sur l'analyse par cette Commission de ce droit à l'alimentation tel que reflétée par l'objectif 7.4. De même, et nous sommes d'accord avec le Représentant des Etats-Unis que le Comité des droits économiques, sociaux et culturels est un organe indiqué pour examiner ce point. Ce Comité qui est présidé par un éminent expert australien doit pouvoir apporter une contribution décisive au développement du droit à l'alimentation.
EL PRESIDENTE: Muchas gracias distinguido Representante de Senegal por la forma en que usted habla de mi país como un eslabón. Pareciera que estamos a la mitad del camino, un poco en el limbo pero sí quiero decirles, desde luego, que mi función aquí en la presidencia es absolutamente independiente, de manera que me siento, eso sí, representante un poco de todos los países que componen nuestra Organización. Pero en fin, muchas gracias por hacer alusión a este papel de intermediación que espero seguir llevando adelante hasta el fin de mi comisión.
Ms Susan MILLS (Canada): Depuis le Sommet sur la sécurité alimentaire tenu en novembre dernier, le Canada s'affaire à élaborer son Plan d'action tenant compte de l'important défi que nous aurons à réaliser d'ici à l'an 2015, afin de réduire de moitié le nombre de personnes sous-alimentées en ce monde. Nous avons entamé, il y a maintenant plusieurs mois, un important processus de consultation auprès des ministères fédéraux et provinciaux, des universités, des organisations non-gouvernementales travaillant dans le développement international et des associations des secteurs canadiens de l'agriculture, des pêches et des forêts et autres organismes du secteur privé. Le Gouvernement canadien croit qu'il est essentiel de maintenir un dialogue avec l'ensemble de nos partenaires canadiens afin que le Plan d'action reflète l'important travail des diverses organisations de la société civile qui ont à coeur la question de la sécurité alimentaire. Nous sommes convaincus que la réussite de cette importante mission que nous nous sommes donnée en novembre dernier
repose sur la volonté de chacun des pays membres de centrer ces actions en vue d'éradiquer l'insécurité alimentaire.
Le Canada encourage le travail du Comité sur la sécurité alimentaire dans ses efforts de coordination et de concertation auprès des organisations internationales afin d'assurer une plus grande synergie entre les activités existantes en ce qui a trait à la sécurité alimentaire. Nous sommes heureux de constater que le Comité sur la sécurité alimentaire a déjà amorcé ces discussions auprès du Comité administratif de coordination pour les organisations des Nations Unies, et que nous aurons l'occasion d'examiner la proposition faite conjointement avec le Fonds international de développement agricole pour la mise en place d'un mécanisme permettant de poursuivre les travaux de suivi.
Le Canada félicite également son initiative de coordination et de mise en place d'un Comité interinstitutionnel chargé d'élaborer et de mettre en place le système d'informations et de cartes sur l'insécurité et la vulnérabilité alimentaires. Nous reconnaissons également la tâche immense que pourra constituer l'élaboration du Plan d'action particulièrement pour les pays les plus défavorisés et nous encourageons la FAO à apporter sa contribution en fonction des ressources existantes à l'intérieur de l'organisation, tout en tenant compte des autres engagements auxquels elle doit faire face dans les années à venir. (Continues in English).
Canada believes that the Special Programme for Food Security provides an important contribution to aid the most vulnerable food deficit countries. We seek to ensure that the best results can be achieved in this important programme and suggest that it would be helpful to carry out an evaluation of the pilot models to integrate best experiences and change approaches where necessary. As one suggestion, we would make, we would suggest to ensure that sustainable long term results might be achieved through increasing participation by immediate beneficiaries in project design and implementation. We feel that the Committee on World Food Security has an important role to play in supporting the development of national action plans, the key to progress on food security.
Regarding TeleFood, the process of developing Canada's action plan on food security, will include major awareness building process within the procedures which I have explained at the beginning, and this will be in collaboration with the various interested non-governmental organizations. We have relayed information on TeleFood to our joint consultative committee which includes key nongovernmental groups, stakeholders and governments. There is some concern that this project, TeleFood, may be competitive to other fund raising activities. Nonetheless we have recommended that our Non-Governmental Organization representatives should be in touch with the FAO with regard to their interest in participating in such an awareness building project.
In closing, we particularly believe that FAO has a key role to play in setting up a vulnerability mapping system and the role of the Committee on World Food Security will be key in the monitoring of progress to achieve our common target in food security.
Suresh Chundre SEEBALLUCK (Mauritius): My delegation wishes to refer to the FAO Programme in the light of the outcome of the World Food Summit. The World Food Summit drew our attention, if you would recall, to a paradox in the production and supply of food. We were told then that enough food was being produced to satisfy the needs of the whole world and yet, more than 800 million people were suffering from hunger and malnutrition. This is clearly a situation of wastage and improper distribution of food on our hands and if this problem is not addressed effectively, we may not attain the objectives we have set ourselves for the year 2015, even if global food production increases at the desired level. Pockets of poverty will persist and disparity in food supply may even grow wider.
My delegation, therefore, considers that due attention be given to the problem of food distribution, which we feel is not clearly spelt out in the FAO programme.
Humberto MOLINA REYES (Chile): Quisiera antes que nada felicitarlo y nos complace verlo presidiendo nuestros trabajos, así como también agradecer por la calidad de los documentos que la Secretaría nos ha preparado.
Señor Presidente, quisiera referirme muy brevemente a tres aspectos que nos parecen importantes. En primer lugar quisieramos endosar la relación que el distinguido Representante de Cuba ha hecho en nombre de los países del GRULAC; compartimos esa posición y ha expresado muy bien nuestras ideas respecto a lo que significa la cooperación técnica para nuestra región, como así mismo la importancia que tiene el PESA en la lucha contra el hambre.
En segundo término, señor Presidente, quisiera destacar un hecho que nos parece vale la pena se mencione en el contexto de este Consejo y que refleja el compromiso que mi país tiene respecto a elementos que nos parecen esenciales y que son dos flagelos que afectan la humanidad. El primero de ellos es la superación de la pobreza y el segundo la lucha contra el hambre.
Creemos, señor Presidente, que la única forma de avanzar para, efectivamente, combatir estos dos flagelos son la solidaridad y la cooperación internacional, que se expresa de manera tangible. Llevando a la práctica estas ideas, el gobierno de Chile recientemente acaba de entregar a la Oficina Regional de la FAO un edificio que va a albergar las nuevas instalaciones con un costo de 6 millones de dólares. Este edificio fue inaugurado la semana pasada con la presencia del Director General. Esto, señor Presidente, creemos que es un reflejo fiel del interés que tiene mi país por apoyar la labor que hace la FAO en la región y creemos que, por cierto, va a ayudar a combatir la inseguridad alimentaria que se presenta en la región.
Por otra parte también queremos destacar, señor Presidente, que la cooperación internacional para mi país es sumamente importante. Hemos estado reforzando la cooperación en el marco de la Cooperación Sur-Sur; también hemos y estamos desarrollando un programa de cooperación triangular, es decir, recibimos aportes de algunos países desarrollados y con la capacitación técnica de Chile hemos podido llevar adelante positivos programas orientados hacia la lucha contra la pobreza en nuestra región.
Pero también, señor Presidente, así como mi país puede expresar sus inquietudes en la lucha contra la pobreza y el hambre en la región, también creemos que es necesaria una cooperación técnica cualitativa y que la Organización debe continuar otorgando. En otras palabras, señor Presidente, creemos que existen distintas necesidades de los organismos en la FAO; me refiero a los países miembros de la FAO y la Organización debe cubrir toda esa gama de necesidades.
Fassou ELIE DAMEY (Observateur de la Guinée): Je commencerai au nom de mon gouvernment par remercier le Directeur général de la FAO pour avoir mis en exergue toutes les problématiques liées à la situation de l'agriculture dans le monde, et particulièrement à la sécurité alimentaire. Nos remerciements vont également au Secrétariat qui a mis à notre disposition des documents contenant des informations très fiables.
Pour le suivi de la sécurité alimentaire, le Gouvernement guinéen, après le Conseil de l'alimentation, a pris quelques dispositions en ce qui concerne le suivi de la sécurité alimentaire. Nous disons que, en Guinée, les disponibilités alimentaires représentent plus de 90 pour cent des apports calorifiques nécessaires à la ration alimentaire de base qui est de 2100 calories par habitant et par jour, le reste étant apporté par les produits des animaux. On peut donc considérer que globalement la sécurité alimentaire est assurée, il est toutefois nécessaire de s'assurer que ces disponibilités alimentaires sont stables dans le temps et dans l'espace et accessibles aux catégories sociales les plus défavorisées.
En d'autres termes, une attention particulière doit être apportée aux zones pauvres et aux populations les plus démunies. Cependant, la Guinée dépend toujours largement des importations
pour son alimentation: 290,800 tonnes de riz importées en 1995 et 220,000 tonnes de riz importées en 1996. La sécurité alimentaire requiert aussi une moindre dépendance vis-à-vis de l'extérieur. Sur ce plan, la bataille de la sécurité alimentaire reste une bataille du riz puisque cette céréale représente 45 pour cent des calories d'origine végétale consommées en Guinée avec un taux d'indépendance vis-à-vis des importations de 39 pour cent. Et donc dans le cadre du programme spécial de la sécurité alimentaire, le Gouvernement guinéen a mis sur pied une cellule de réflexion sur deux sites compte tenu de la diversité des conditions édaphiques et climatiques du pays, à savoir une zone sous l'influence des eaux marines, et une zone sous l'influence des eaux douces. Aujourd'hui, les résultats restent très concluants, cependant il reste quelques contraintes à relever, à savoir le transfert du "packet" écologique en milieu rural et le circuit de distribution, comme l'a dit tout-à-l'heure un de mes prédécesseurs, à savoir par l'implantation rurale des équipements d'aménagement hydro-agricole et des pistes rurales.
Une autre contrainte consisterait en la fertilisation des sols qui doit inclure l'utilisation des fertilisants organiques. Monsieur le Président, de concert avec mes prédécesseurs, nous disons que des stratégies en Guinée sont adoptées pour atteindre la sécurité alimentaire d'ici l'an 2010 et, entre autre ces stratégies, nous avons l'intention de créer des groupements de producteurs pour la mise en marché afin que des volumes vendus permettent de mieux équilibrer la négociation sur les prix; améliorer le pouvoir de négociation des producteurs grâce à leur distance de concurrence entre acheteurs pour que le développement des infrastructures et des services en zone rurale soit assuré; rendre le crédit disponible aux producteurs; favoriser les échanges basés sur des contrats et des conventions, et à garantir ainsi une certaine permanence dans le temps et permettant de réduire les coûts des transactions. Une commission inter-ministérielle installée et qui inclut tous les partenaires dans le dévelopepment. Monsieur le Président, en plus de ce que mes prédécesseurs ont dit, voilà ce que le Gouvernement guinéen avait à vous présenter sur la sécurité alimentaire. Je vous remercie.
Giuseppe VASTA (Observateur pour l'Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques): Je vous félicite pour la façon de conduire nos travaux et je félicite aussi les trois Vice-Présidents. Je souhaite un bon travail à tout le Comité de rédaction, et je me réfère surtout à ce qu'on a dit hier à propos du manque d'eau potable. Je pense que ce problème est d'ordre mondial et je voulais, à ce propos, dire que l'OCDE a mis récemment en évidence que la demande en eau pour la consommation humaine a plus que quadruplé au cours des cinquante dernières années.
Aujourd'hui, un cinquième de la population mondiale n'a pas accès à l'eau potable et un autre cinquième ne peut satisfaire ses besoins quotidiens. Un quart des réserves mondiales totales d'eau douce pourrait être contaminé au début du siècle prochain. Afin de contribuer à l'effort des pays membres de l'OCDE de mieux gérer leurs ressources en eau, l'OCDE et le Gouvernement d'Australie ont organisé en février dernier une réunion d'experts afin d'étudier les moyens d'action et stratégies de nature à favoriser les modes de consommation de l'eau écologiquement viables. Le thème central des discussions a été examiné dans le cadre de sessions consacrées à l'agriculture, à l'industrie, au secteur commercial/résidentiel et à la gestion intégrée.
Cette manifestation s'inscrivait dans le Programme de l'OCDE sur les modes de consommation et de production écologiquement viables, qui a déjà permis d'examiner certaines des questions de fond que pose la mise en oeuvre de l'objectif des modes de consommation fixé en 1992 lors de la Conférence des Nations Unies sur l'environnement et le développement de Rio de Janeiro.
La réunion de Sidney a rassemblé aux côtés des participants des pays membres de l'OCDE des spécialistes de neuf pays non membres dont la Chine, le Brésil, l'Inde, l'Indonésie et le Viet Nam. Ce problème, à juste titre, attire toujours plus l'attention du monde entier.
EL PRESIDENTE: Con esto termina mi lista de oradores para este tema y le voy a preguntar primero al Presidente en funciones del Comité de Seguridad Alimentaria si quiere hacer algún comentario respecto de nuestros debates.
David SANDS SMITH (Vice-Chairman, Committee on World Food Security): I have listened with very great attention to the points that have been made. I can assure members of this Council that I will relay those to Ambassador Medrano, the Chairman of the Committee on World Food Security.
As I think many of you will know, with the Committee for World Food Security, in the case of the Committee on World Food Security, we have a very active Bureau which operates continuously, I would say, together with a very close collaboration with the Secretariat and which has a concern to know of points which Member Nations consider to be of particular significance and where follow-up action is required. What you have said in this discussion in the Council in that context has been extremely helpful, and I can assure you that the Bureau will take that very carefully into account in taking forward the question of follow-up to the World Food Summit.
DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL: In contrast to my normal procedures I will address first the specific topics that were mentioned and then, come to a general comment.
First, I shall deal with the Technical Cooperation Programme and its relationship to the Special Programme on Food Security.
I believe that it is well that we recall that even though the TCP is called a programme, it in fact is a fund. It is a fund for Members, for small projects like, for example, integrated pest management programme or integrated plant nutrient programme. The Special Programme on Food Security is a programme, is owned by Members.
To use the TCP, Members request assistance from the fund. They specify the priority associated with their requests because, unfortunately, we never have sufficient resources to satisfy all of the requests. As you know, there are specific criteria for the use of the TCP and only if the request meets that criteria, it is considered. Any country eligible for the TCP may request assistance for a component of the Special Programme. Low-Income, Food-Deficit countries, who are eligible for the programme, but also non-low-income food deficit countries. That is, if, as the Ambassador of Mexico and the delegate from Uganda have stated, there is an area within their country where the Government believes that a/or components of the Special Programme on Food Security would address a high priority matter within their country, there is no reason why they should not submit that request for TCP funding. It will be judged, assessed, on precisely the same criteria as any other request received, and of course the government will have to specify the priority associated with that request.
Second, on country strategy papers or country briefs, we appreciate the very many expressions of appreciation for the initiative taken by FAO, which draws upon FAO's work including AT 2010, the background documents and the national country papers prepared for the Summit. We agree that this must be a country-driven process, as a strategy is only meaningful if it is owned by the country. The World Food Summit was a world food summit. It was not a summit for some countries.
Developed countries have an important role with respect to the World Food Summit that goes beyond their individual borders. In taking this initiative, the Director-General, as the Director-General of this Organization, could not discriminate and decline to offer assistance of FAO, to some of its members. Therefore, assistance was offered to all.
We fully understand and respect the sovereignty of countries and letters, following the comments that were made during the Committee on Food Security, have been sent to those who indicated concern about this initiative, to ascertain if they wish us to continue to assemble material and prepare a draft for consideration by their government or if they wish us to cease the activity, to inform us to whom the material that has been collected should be sent.
Third, with respect to the comments concerning the work related to the right to food and the involvement of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, it is our belief that we have proceeded with leadership provided by our Legal Counsel, precisely in accord with the provisions of Objective 7.4.
Fourth, with respect to the comments about the ACC initiative, we appreciate the supportive comments that have been made over our taking this initiative in collaboration with IFAD and we wish to ensure that the ACC follow-up mechanism is well integrated within UN System initiatives, at the country and global levels.
Fifth, on TeleFood, here again we are pleased to hear of the plans being made for it. It will take place during World Food Day week and there will be a major effort to, as the Director-General put it in his statement, "hold the decisions taken at the Summit in the public eye". We are hopeful that all people concerned about the problem of hunger in the world will have the opportunity to make a contribution, but the decision to participate here again is one for the countries themselves to take. All of the funds collected will be used in the fight against hunger and will be subjected to audits by well-known firms.
Sixth, the comments on the involvement of agricultural research bodies and genetic resources are appreciated. I wish to ensure you that the Organization encourages research and technical organizations and institutes to provide technical support to our field activities, including those in connection with the Special Programme on Food Security.
Seventh, on the Special Programme on Food Security, I wish first to recall that it was this body three years ago, I believe today or right these days that the Council unanimously gave its approval to the Special Programme. Since then, the concept has become a programme in a number of countries. Comments on the programme have been received from those who have initiated it and from those who have not, at various meetings of Council committees, the Council itself, including these days and during one-on-one discussions. All of the comments, positive and negative, have been taken into account. The Programme has been and continues to be fine-tuned to make it an even better programme than it was when it was launched. It is therefore somewhat surprising that after three years the Programme continues to be criticized by a few, very few Members, those who do not, themselves, have a serious food security problem.
The Representative from the United Kingdom has stated that poverty alleviation is the key to food security. Okay, but how will countries alleviate poverty? Income transfers are one option, but the overall climate for doing so is not very good. The only other way is for people to earn more income and in the Special Programme countries the opportunity to do so is largely within the food and agricultural sectors through increases in productivity and production, in a manner that enhances income to producers and creates jobs and income in off-farm activities.
During the pilot phase of the Programme, intensification, diversification and water control activities are tested, results are measured and constraints are documented. Once these activities have been appropriately tested and constraints documented, the programme moves to the second phase where policy and investment actions are planned and then implemented. I wish to inform that not a single country has had sufficient testing and documentation of constraints to be prepared to move to phase 2. Evaluation is an extremely important part of the Programme and as the results have been
obtained from the first season in the early countries, the initiatives, the activities are modified and fine-tuned within the country, to correct the deficiencies observed in the first round.
The appropriation for the Special Programme on Food Security is approved by the Conference. The amount appropriated is far less than the amounts needed by participating countries and therefore, extra-budgetary funds to FAO or directly to the governments concerned are necessary. We are indeed thankful of the offers of assistance from governments and inter-governmental organizations to help our Member Nations implement the Special Programme.
Finally, turning to the general comment, it is extremely gratifying to hear of the actions that are being taken to implement the commitments of the Summit. One sits here for a half-day and a bit more and, then comes the full impact of the importance with which you take the Summit - it is made very evident. We also are extremely appreciative of the offers of assistance, both from the south and the north, to implement the commitments of the World Food Summit.
Finally, I assume, given the comments that have been made, that the Council is prepared to approve the Report of the CFS and to transmit it to the Conference.
Fernando José MARRONI de ABREU (Brazil): We did not have the opportunity in this debate of expressing, again, our support to the Special Programme, as we did in the previous meeting. I would like to remind you that we took part, together with FAO, in a joint mission to the five African lusophone countries last year and, during the visit of the Director-General to Brazil in March, our President stressed again our political will to take part in this Programme.
It is not our understanding that a few countries are against this Programme. I think that every delegation, that every country, supports this Programme. What we still have are some doubts concerning the connection between the Special Programme and TCP. I would like to thank Mr Hjort very much for the information he gave at the beginning of his statement, but it is not one hundred percent clear, at least to myself, the connection between the Special Programme and TCP. We are working on a very limited budget but we understand and we support that the Special Programme gets priority in the execution of the budget. However, we would like to ask, in the case of a certain number of projects being presented to TCP for financing that are considered feasible and that go beyond the internal procedures in FAO, if they have second priority and we have limited resources, what kind of treatment are we going to give to these projects? I think it is important to a number of countries to have this very clear.
I repeat, it is our understanding that every delegation should support this Special Programme, but we need a clear understanding of this connection.
DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL: Perhaps I should stress a bit more about what I said with respect to priority. As far as the TCP is concerned, the requesting government is asked to array its request for TCP assistance in priority order and, therefore, it is the decision of the country itself if it wishes to put the Special Programme in first priority or last priority. I might state that a recent meeting with very senior government official of one of the Member Countries I was informed that they were interested in the Special Programme but that, in their view, at this time, it ranked down the list of priorities, and there were some other pending matters that they judged to be of higher priority. That priority ranking will be fully respected. In this particular case, the Special Programme came far enough down the list of priorities that it is highly unlikely that it will be able to be funded in this year.
FAO does not supersede the priority of a government with respect to the TCP. It is the government's prerogative and obligation to ascertain the priority that it assigns to its request for TCP assistance.
F.J. MARRONI de ABREU (Brazil): I do not want to establish a dialogue here but we are among the countries that are in an ambiguous situation, if you can call it so. We are both donor and recipient of TCP and, of course, we are not going to establish priorities between the two programmes, since we work with both hands.
What we understand by priority is the priority established by FAO to the Special Programme in relation to TCP. In that sense, I made my question.
EL PRESIDENTE: Hemos entendido cual es su preocupación, la misma la tienen también otros Miembros de este Consejo. Pero espero que las declaraciones ya expresadas y sobre todo la precisión respecto de la diferencia entre lo que es un fondo y lo que es un programa y la forma en que las decisiones y los criterios se aplican, les asegure a ustedes que esta situación de ambigüedad no debe en verdad existir.
Bien, distinguidos delegados, si no hay ningún otro comentario me gustaría entonces concluir estos debates sobre este tema tan importante, en particular porque, como ustedes recordaron, esta es la primera ocasión que se reúne el Consejo después de la Cumbre Mundial de la Alimentación y ustedes recordaron que era muy importante evitar que se perdiera la fuerza, o el impulso del desafío suministrado en la Cumbre, para la superación de las condiciones de inseguridad alimentaria y del hambre.
Se coincidió en que estos retos deberían mantenerse al más alto nivel en la agenda política de todos los gobiernos y que debían materializarse también en acciones concretas. Se lamentó en este Consejo, por tanto, que a pesar del éxito de la Cumbre seguían descendiendo los flujos internacionales de ayuda alimentaria, de asistencia al desarrollo y también el apoyo financiero a programas internacionales. Se destacó en particular el caso de la FAO, cuyos recursos no necesariamente estaban en aumento. Se subrayó en este sentido el papel catalítico de la Organización, la importancia de su función técnica, así como su liderazgo en la promoción del Plan de Acción, la importancia de la cooperación plena de la FAO con el resto del sistema de las Naciones Unidas y también la necesidad de la convergencia de acciones a todos los niveles evitando la duplicación de esfuerzos y, desde luego, el desperdicio de recursos. Se coincidió en que la viabilidad del Plan de Acción dependía sobre todo de los esfuerzos a nivel nacional y de la capacidad de los gobiernos para convocar a la sociedad civil, en particular al sector privado. Se mencionó también de manera muy destacada las organizaciones no gubernamentales para cooperar en el diseño, ejecución, evaluación y en el seguimiento de los planes nacionales de seguridad alimentaria. Todos los gobiernos deberían por tanto tomar medidas urgentes y reportar sobre sus actividades y el cumplimiento de las metas conforme al Plan de Acción.
Respecto del Programa Especial de Seguridad Alimentaria, creo que podemos decir que este Consejo reconfirmó su apoyo al PESA, la gran mayoría de los Miembros asimismo apoyó su orientación y ejecución y su relevancia para el logro de la seguridad alimentaria y del Plan de Acción. No obstante, algunos países expresaron dudas respecto de la conexión entre el PESA y el PCT, a lo cual se dieron aclaraciones pertinentes y de la misma manera algunos otros países expresaron también dudas sobre la congruencia del PESA con los objetivos del Plan de Acción y respecto de la metodología, criterios seguidos, cooperación con otras instituciones, tanto nacionales como internacionales, y sobre el sistema de seguimiento y evaluación tanto en la fase piloto como en las sucesivas.
En cuanto a Telefood, el Consejo dio la bienvenida a esta iniciativa que consideró desde luego novedosa y pidió al Director General que proporcionara a los órganos rectores, información detallada de sus costos totales, la forma de financiarlo y de asignar recursos, de los beneficios esperados, a fin de evaluar su conveniencia futura y asegurar también la coordenación de este instrumento de recaudación de fondos con otras instituciones como organizaciones no gubernamentales.
Finalmente, el Consejo hizo diversos comentarios respecto a los temas tocados en el Informe del Comité de Seguridad Alimentaria y, sobre todo de los debates del Informe, en particular sobre las disposiciones institucionales para el seguimiento y la presentación de informes sobre la ejecución del Plan de Acción, sobre el sistema de información y cartografía sobre la seguridad alimentaria y la vulnerabilidad, sobre los resultados del examen de seguimiento de la Cumbre, sobre la cooperación entre la FAO y el Alto Comisionado de Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos, y sobre la importancia de asociar las acciones de la Organización con las organizaciones de la sociedad civil y la labor del Comité y de la FAO.
Pero lo importante es destacar que este Consejo decidió transmitir a la Conferencia, junto con sus comentarios, el Informe del Comité de Seguridad Alimentaria sobre todos los aspectos de la Cumbre Mundial de la Alimentación. Estoy seguro que los comentarios específicos que ustedes hicieron van a recogerse en el Informe que ustedes aprobarán el día sábado.
Bien, distinguidos delegados, si no hay ningún otro comentario concluimos este tema y pasamos de inmediato al Tema 14 de nuestra Agenda.
EL PRESIDENTE: En el presente tema, el Informe sobre la evaluación del programa de periodicidad bienal, figura un examen detenido de tres programas importantes, a saber: el de fomento y ordenación de los recursos hídricos, recursos pesqueros y acuicultura y desarrollo y transferencia de tecnología; todos de gran interés para los Estados Miembros, en particular los países en desarrollo.
También figuran dos exámenes temáticos: Operaciones Especiales de Socorro de la FAO y Actividades de Publicación de la FAO, que deben tener un gran interés para todos los Miembros.
Esta versión es asimismo innovadora, como lo reconoció el Comité del Programa, en el sentido que por primera vez se incorporan observaciones de los directores de los programas pertinentes o de la administración superior sobre las principales cuestiones planteadas por quienes efectuaron las evaluaciones y sobre las recomendaciones formuladas. Esta versión da una impresión clara de que se han introducido cambios francos y objetivos que sin duda aumentan el valor del Informe.
También parece que, en el conjunto, el Informe ha sido bien recibido por los Comités del Programa y de Finanzas aunque, claro, como allí se destacó, siempre son posibles nuevas mejoras y estoy seguro que la Secretaría ha tomado ya nota de eso y que las estudiará.
Por lo que se refiere al capítulo relativo a las publicaciones, un aspecto práctico que el Consejo tal vez desee refrendar, es la necesidad de examinar el Artículo VI.9 del Reglamento Financiero. Tengo entendido que el Comité de Finanzas va a examinar el tema en su próximo período de sesiones en septiembre.
Bien, distinguidos delegados, me voy a permitir preguntarle al Presidente del Comité del Programa si desea agregar algo en esta introducción del tema y le doy la palabra.
D. BOMMER (Chairman, Programme Committee): Mr Chairman, I think you did an excellent job in introducing this Report, including the comments the Programme Committee and the Finance Committee made. I just wanted to stress a few additional points.
First of all, in the debate we had yesterday and already this morning, several people referred to evaluation. Here we have the third edition of the Evaluation Report which Conference and Council had asked for and, therefore, it is a very important instrument to measure performance and impact. However, at the same time, as we say in our Report of the Programme Committee, the third edition of this Evaluation shows considerable progress made -- and we were satisfied with this -- but there are still considerable weaknesses we must recognize. The main weakness --and we say it in our report -- is that very few, or even none, of FAO Programmes have very clear targets and criteria to measure impact and to measure performance. Therefore, the new model which we will discuss together with the full Programme of Work and Budget, introduced in our recommendation, might considerably improve the situation.
The second point: it clearly shows in this Report that those reviews which used external inputs have gained considerably in transparency, in clarity and substance, which means addition of the in-house machinery for evaluation. It is very important to involve external evaluation aspects. Certainly, it will cost money and we have to consider this within the overall resource availability, but we cannot stress sufficiently that this is very important, that the membership sees this involvement of external opinions of the performance.
Finally, on the specific requests you made, I think it would be good to have the opinion of the Council on the proposals made for changing the Publications Programme. There are, I think, a number of important items -- the number of issues to be distributed, etc. -- which should have at least a first opinion voiced here. Certainly, I wanted to draw your attention to the specific fact that the review of the Special Relief Operations of FAO first of all brings together for the first time this whole programme, very well and very clearly. However, at the same time, I think we noted that we will receive a document on the development of a proposal by the Director-General for the strategy, the strategic role in emergency assistance of FAO within the UN organizations, which, at the same time, will provide maybe a better insight of how this collaboration is going to function and how the financial resources could be better identified and mobilized to make this very important programme more viable than it is at the moment.
Tony WADE (Director, Office of Programme, Budget and Evaluation): As there has already been a fairly comprehensive introduction, I will limit myself to a couple of points, if I may. First of all, to clarify, this report was prepared by the Organization's Evaluation Service on topics which were selected, for the first time as a matter of interest, in consultation with the Programme Committee itself. The Chief of the Evaluation Service, Mr Kato, is at my right here and will be happy to answer any questions you may wish to put to him.
This report is normally handled by the Programme Committee, but on this occasion it was also forwarded to the Finance Committee because of the financial implications of the chapter on Publication Activities in FAO. If I may mention a couple of points in follow-up to Dr Bommer's statements on that particular chapter, I think it might be worthwhile.
I believe the Council will be particularly interested in two of the recommendations made in this chapter. The first concerns the proposal to move away from automatic quotas for publications, towards national publications accounts, where countries would, in effect, have an account with a credit against which they would be able to draw down by ordering those publications they feel to be of greatest value to them, rather than receiving a standard number of copies of all publications. So by this means we hope to relate supply to demand in a more effective way. The Committees agreed in principle with that proposal and have asked us, the Secretariat, to come back with more detailed
proposals. At this stage it would be interesting if the Council has any particular guidance it may wish to give us on this point so that we can take that into account.
Both Committees also welcomed the relatively strong policy statement on language versions, although they noted the need for selectivity and a certain degree of flexibility in this area. And again the Council may like to give its views on that issue.
Dr Bommer referred also to Chapter 4, the second thematic chapter on FAO's Special Relief Operations, and again both Committees have commented on that chapter in their reports. It was agreed that FAO has an important role to play in this continuum of prevention, early warning in particular of course, relief, rehabilitation and development. It was specifically recognized that the entry point of FAO into an emergency should be sufficiently early to allow effective advance planning by those providing assistance or essential inputs to produce food in the aftermath of an emergency as well as to reconstruction and rehabilitation.
The Chapters 2, 3 and 4, which deal with water development, fisheries resources and technology development, were studied in some depth by the Programme Committee, and you can see that from the report of the Committee which provided valuable advice on the areas which it considers more important for action and improvement.
I, and my colleague here, are available to assist the Council in its debate on this item.
Adel Mahmoud ABOUL-NAGA (Egypt) (Original language Arabic): I would like to thank Dr Bommer very much and also thank Mr Wade, and thank you, Sir, for the introduction that you have given to this Agenda item.
This is a point which for us, as we pointed out to the Programme Committee, is a point of utmost importance. Dr Bommer said that we talked a lot about the Evaluation Report and here before us we do have an evaluation of the Programmes that we have selected. There is no doubt whatsoever that the activities of the Organization in this regard were well received by the Members of the Committee and, in the course of our proceedings, we noted that great progress had been made in the preparation of the Report and in the evaluation activity as such. Perhaps the most important things were the external viewpoints and also the comments made by the Programme Directors and the senior officials in the Secretariat. I think, all that helps to achieve a greater degree of transparency and interaction between the distinct viewpoints with respect to the importance of this evaluation effort. Hence this image, this idea, this information, which is brought before the Governing Bodies, increases the transparency factor.
I do not really want to comment on the three Programmes which, to our mind, were well selected for consideration. Everyone agreed on the importance of these Programmes, but perhaps there may be some observations which could be made about the evaluation of the development and transfer of technology because the evaluation, as such, was not entirely satisfactory. It is perhaps due to the difficulty in evaluating the analysis of a series of activities that are implicit in that Programme for technology transfer and development. Also because this is a recent Programme, as we see it, it must be somewhat difficult to evaluate it in a satisfactory and total manner. The number of observations were also present in the document, also with regard to FAO's special relief operations. Here we would like to reiterate our support to the recommendations and observations made by the Programme Committee, especially with respect to the importance of the role played by the Organization in the field of reconstruction and rehabilitation.
We feel that this Report provides an opportunity for people to become very closely familiar with what is being done, especially what FAO does in close collaboration with other organizations, especially in this area, IFAD and WFP.
With regard to the publication activities of FAO, undoubtedly a large number of observations were made relative to that and we all agreed that the present system used for the distribution of FAO publications is not entirely satisfactory. Before us we have a proposal relative to the national publications account and this, as an idea, was well received by the Committee. We also talked in the course of our proceedings about the role to be played by Representatives here in order to ensure the distribution of publications according to what the actual country requirements are. This too is an aspect, as we see it, that was confirmed, considering its importance in the eyes of delegates.
With regard to language versions, I did voice the viewpoint of my region, the Near East region, and did so in the course of the Programme Committee meeting. Let me make this clear, we do not agree that we should talk about working languages. There are official languages of this Organization. We do not know who opted for this term "working languages"; we have official languages not working languages, as we see it. So who can assume the right to give greater importance to one language over another? We are all Members of this Organization, hence we want our countries to be able to benefit from the Organization's publications which, as we see it, do constitute one of the most important activities of FAO. I think it is the minimum that our countries and our citizens can expect from the Organization. Hence we would like to make it clear that we give utmost importance to this theme and would like to talk about it in those terms. In this Organization there are official languages which are to be the languages used during the activities of FAO and in the publications of our Organization. Besides that, we feel that were we to open this door on the pretext of generating savings it would be in contradiction with the main scopes of this Organization.
Ms J. DONECKER (United Kingdom): Thank you for giving us the opportunity to comment on the Programme Evaluation Report for 1996-97. The United Kingdom would like to express appreciation to the Secretariat for the improvements that have been incorporated into the Report since the 1994-95 version. We would wish to respond to the Director-General's invitation to offer constructive suggestions on the Report.
The UK attaches great importance to sound evaluation, for purposes of both accountability and internal lesson-learning. We believe that the key aim of evaluation should be impact-assessment. FAO and its Member Nations need to know to what extent the Organization is making a difference in the lives of poor people in the developing world.
Our comments are of two kinds. They cover, first, the format of the Report and, second, overarching themes that emerge from the Report.
Let me turn first to the format of the 1996-97 Report. We have two key observations on the alterations made since the 1994-95 Report. First, we welcome the introduction of the tabular summary assessment of programme performance including ratings of different dimensions of each programme. The points in the summary should, however, be more carefully and explicitly discussed in the main text of the report; otherwise there is a risk that the summary tables are seen as an oversimplification. The summary assessment should, we believe, be extended to all chapters of the Report.
Second, we welcome the addition of management comments on the recommendations of each programme evaluation. This will, we hope, stimulate discussion within FAO on evaluation findings and methodology. The 1996-97 Report suggests that such a debate is indeed taking place and we welcome this. The incorporation of lessons learnt in new activities is also crucial.
Turning now to the overarching themes of the Programme Evaluation Report. These themes recur throughout the Report and provide valuable insights into areas requiring priority action by FAO. There are three areas we would like to comment on: first, prioritization within each programme; second, targets and indicators; and third, monitoring.
First, prioritization within each programme. A theme that emerges strongly from this Report is the need to develop a clear strategy for each programme. This implies that activities need to be explicitly prioritized within each programme. The addition of activities over recent years has overstretched some programmes. This brings us back to the issue of opportunity cost. For any level of resources, additional activities, such as those related to the Special Programme for Food Security, reduce the ability to address more established areas of work. There is a need for a concentration of activities in FAO's areas of comparative advantage. This is happening to some extent, but the Report calls for more concentration and we support this conclusion.
Let me turn now to the issue of targets and indicators. According to the Report, and I quote, "Very few FAO programmes are so articulated as to have clearly defined achievement targets and indicators, making it difficult to gauge the degree of achievement". This area requires urgent attention. The reason for the urgency is simple: for FAO to maximize its effectiveness in improving food security in the developing world, it needs to know whether its programmes are meeting their objectives or not. This means that in each programme area, measurable and time-bound targets and indicators are essential.
Third, let me offer some comments on monitoring. Monitoring implementation is an essential element of programme and project management and provides the basis for in-depth evaluation and impact assessment. The Report suggests that in some programme areas the monitoring function needs to be strengthened. We welcome this suggestion of building monitoring capacity. Impact assessment should be designed as a system which covers careful selection of objectives and indicators ex ante, monitoring outputs and early indications of impact during implementation, and includes full impact assessment at the ex post stage. Monitoring is a crucial building block of an effective impact assessment system.
To close, I would like to commend FAO's Evaluation Service for its valuable work. Further, I would repeat and underline that impact assessment and, above all, lesson-learning are crucial if FAO is to become more effective in improving food security in developing countries.
Richard B. HELM (United States of America): We would also like to compliment FAO on the Report and on its accomplishments in this key area of programme evaluation.
We believe this is an especially important function for FAO during a period when many Member Nations along with FAO, are facing budget constraints as well as increased demands on their resources in connection with follow-up to the World Food Summit. As we have stated in different FAO fora over the last year, evaluating performance against clear benchmarks is essential in order to determine how available resources can best be allocated to priority areas. On that note, I would like to point out that the US Government has undertaken a similar initiative internally, entitled 'The Government Performance Results Act', which seeks increased budget and programme efficiency through a well-focused strategy which includes an evaluation of measurable inputs, outputs and benefits to US citizens.
In general, we consider the 1996-97 Programme Evaluation Report an important step forward in strengthening the internal evaluation process. We strongly support the three principal innovations outlined in the document. We also concur with the Programme Committee's findings that these innovations are useful and provide a clear focus on the Programme objectives and strategy as well as implementation results. We consider that the section on feedback from senior staff was particularly insightful in that it gave us an immediate impression of how well the Reports recommendations would be accepted.
Specifically, in the publications area, we support the recommendation that distribution of documents be evaluated. We suggest that FAO undertake an effort to identify where documents are being distributed within each Member Nation and to determine whether there is under-utilization of those
documents. As the country with the largest distribution of documents, the United States would be willing to work with FAO in undertaking this review in order to reduce the number of copies, where appropriate, and move expenses and apply savings to other high priority areas.
Another area, gender issues, we believe continues to be a major concern as was correctly identified by the evaluators. All areas of FAO must focus further on this important issue in order to better tap the wealth of unused resources available to us all. This applies to FAO's efforts in hiring, contracting, programme development, implementation and, last but not least, in promoting the interests of women farmers around the world.
We concur with the Report's emphasis on training and agree that training should be built in to all aspects of the work place. This goal should apply to FAO itself in order to maintain a level of excellence and in order to promote global food security through programme delivery to Member Nations.
The Evaluation Service has made several other important recommendations that we strongly support, such as the need for FAO to increase cooperation with other entities, to set sharper priorities, to provide both measurable objectives and timetables for projects and to recognize where FAO does or does not have a comparative advantage. Following up on these recommendations will strengthen the Organization as structural reforms are enacted.
There are references throughout the Report to the impact of reduced staff on programme implementation. As we have indicated several times, we believe FAO can bring its organizational structure more in line with other UN agencies and still achieve programme goals by setting clear priorities and by working with other organizations in hiring contractors, in some cases in order to save costs. We found the cost comparisons and resource management sections of the Report to be very useful in contributing to a broad overview of the areas under evaluation. We would caution that in areas where follow-up on accepted recommendation requires additional resources, such as expanding functions of the FAO regional representatives and translating all FAO documents into all FAO working languages, those resources be taken from other areas in order to offset costs.
In closing, we would like to respond to the Report's request for constructive suggestions and guidance for improving future Evaluation Reports. We suggest first, that FAO continue the innovations begun with this Report and update any of the 1995 Council criteria that they are subsequently amended. Two, that a system by implemented to evaluate all programme areas, not just problem areas, that are perceived to exist such as seems to be the case with the present evaluation. Three, that FAO look at ways to improve the evaluation by utilizing it in programme planning by FAO managers as they develop targets and indicators to be used in future evaluations and by factoring report findings into the medium-term plan. Four, that the Special Programme for Food Security be a priority area for the next Evaluation Report and five, that greater emphasis be put on the trade implications of FAO programmes in future reports.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on what we view as an increasingly important function for FAO.
Alan AMEY (Canada): Thank you for the opportunity to comment on this important document.
Evaluation is a key function and should play an important role in the process of planning and budgeting. Canada compliments FAO on the improvements made to the Report through the inclusion of comments by the Programme Managers and on the evaluators' observations, as well as summary assessment of performance against the six Programme criteria established by the Council in 1995.
FAO, generally, has good expertise in conducting evaluations; however, it was noted that the two which involve outside evaluators reflected a wider perspective than those conducted exclusively by the evaluation service and we would like to see more such evaluations. There is a need to identify more explicit outputs and goals against to which evaluate progress.
Recent efforts in the last Programme of Work and Budget, in this regard, are appreciated but should be developed further. We will then be in a better position to access impact achievement and overall cost-effectiveness.
Canada continues to express our desire to see the results of these evaluations reflected in the Programme of Work and Budget, as mentioned by the United States. Also, we would like to see a higher proportion of FAO's programmes scheduled for evaluation on a cyclical basis and to see more peer review incorporated into the evaluation process on a regular basis.
We support the identified need for more systematic internal monitoring and review to be built into the programmes. This will help identify the strengths and weaknesses and should identify those areas of expertise in which FAO has comparative advantage.
We would like to see the evaluation section more directly involved in the project approval process as the lessons of experience are invaluable to avoid repeating mistakes of the past.
Before entering into the specifics of the programmes, I would like to support the observations of the last Programme and Finance Committees concerning the Evaluation Report, and we appreciate the extra explanations given by Dr Bommer. For the research section in the face of dwindling resources, alternative means of programme delivery must be sought in order to achieve efficiencies. We are pleased to note the initiation of streamlining and consolidation of the programme structure, making it more efficient and coordinated. We appreciate the realignment towards the normative functions.
These actions should certainly be continued in order to achieve increased efficiencies and cross-programme initiatives could lead to more effective projects and use of resources. Close integration with the CGIAR institutions would facilitate technology transfer, and we note the emphasis the Programme Committee has given to this approach.
With regard to the Special Relief Operations, as recognized by the Finance Committee, we question FAO's desire to build up its presence in this area, where it does not necessarily have a clear advantage. We stress that it should not seek to strengthen its Special Relief Operations but rather should leave this to other Organizations, which already have the capability to order, deliver and monitor emergency supplies. Instead, FAO should concentrate on providing appropriate technical advice on the agricultural requirements or, as mentioned by Mr Wade, the upfront areas to predict emergencies. We look forward to the agreements with other UN Agencies which Dr Bommer mentioned.
With regard to the publication activities, in general Canada supports the recommendations to establish a publications strategy and that distribution should be demand-driven. We recommend that a Publications Review Committee, which would include outside membership, be established. We support, in principle, the idea of a quota system.
In closing, Canada considers that the evaluation process is improving; however, it needs to be more integrated into the full cycle of programme planning and budgeting.
Suharyvo HUSEN (Indonesia): On behalf of the Indonesian delegation, first of all I would like to thank and appreciate the work which has been done by the Secretariat in providing us with the document CL 112/14.
The Indonesian delegation is in agreement with the Programme Committee that commented with satisfaction on the latest edition of the Programme Evaluation Report. It was, in general, more analytical, with a clearer focus on the programme objectives and strategy as well as implementation outputs and results, including clearer identification of changes and deviations from the original plans outlined in the Programme of Work and Budget.
The Indonesian delegation would like to see, in the future, more frequent use of external expertise in the Programme Evaluation. My delegation would also like to associate itself with the Committee's concern on several cases of adverse effects of prolonged vacancies and long delays in staff recruitment, on programme implementation, and the late receipt of vacancy announcements. Therefore, for the effective and efficient implementation of the Programme of Work of the Organization, this situation should be overcome as soon as possible, such as by considering in depth the time and budget allocated in processing staff recruitment and based on the existing policy.
Concerning Chapter 1 - Water Development, Management and Conservation (Sub-Programme 126.96.36.199) -- the Indonesian delegation welcomes, with satisfaction, the considerable refocusing of the programme that had taken place during the recent biennia, as well as the achievements realized.
The Indonesian delegation also would like to associate itself with the Committee in supporting, in general, the recommendations contained in the review under this Chapter, especially the importance of ensuring practicability of the various computerized information systems and tools, like AQUASTAT, CROPWAT, CLIMWAT and SIMIS, establishing a realistic timetable for complementing the work on AQUASTAT, and providing adequate technical support to allow for effective implementation of the field projects.
Regarding Chapter 2 -- Fisheries Resources and Aquaculture (Programme 2.3.2) -- the Indonesian delegation agreed with the Committee view that this Programme was well focused and dynamic in addressing some of the essential aspects of sustainable fisheries and aquaculture development. In this context, my delegation has similar concerns to the Committee, as stated in paragraph 2.14, such as: the importance of the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the unique potential of aquaculture and the importance of regional fisheries bodies in improving fishery resource management.
In conclusion regarding Chapter 3 -- Technology Development and Transfer (Programme 2.5.1) -my delegation would like very much to see in the future the strengthening of collaboration between FAO and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) system in the facilitation and transfer of appropriate technologies from CGIAR centres to National Agricultural Research Centres.
José ROBLES AGUILAR (México): Coincidimos en la importancia de la actividad de evaluación como un elemento clave para la planeación de las actividades de la Organización.
Queremos referirnos, en concreto, al Capítulo II del documento presentado por la Secretaría del Programa sobre Pesca y Acuicultura. En este sentido, como lo señala el párrafo 264, nos preocupa el hecho de un desequilibrio que se está advirtiendo fuertemente en la Organización respecto al balance de actividades de campo y normativas.
Las actividades de campo lamentablemente han estado, como señala este documento, en desventaja en relación con otras actividades. En este sentido, nos gustaría escuchar de la Secretaría, hasta que punto concretamente la parte de pesca y, concretamente la parte de acuicultura, se han visto afectadas por los recortes presupuéstales del último bienio.
Apoyamos lo señalado por la delegación de Indonesia respecto al fortalecimiento de las actividades en la aplicación del Código de Conducta de Pesca Responsable y, también, respecto a las
actividades en el campo de la acuicultura, una de las esferas de mayor potencial a la luz de los resultados de la Cumbre Alimentaria.
Finalmente, en relación con el nuevo proyecto planteado en el documento para la distribución de publicaciones, nos gustaría conocer si este proyecto, que desde luego estaría bien intencionado, conduciría a una complicación administrativa, dado los pasos y las fases que se incluirían en la distribución de publicaciones y que ahora no se contemplan.
J.A. THOMAS (South Africa): I have two brief comments, one of a general nature and one more specific. The general one is just in support of what has been said about the importance of sound evaluation, the need to continue with this and to improve the process.
Our specific comment regards Chapter Five, dealing with Publications Activities of FAO. We would just like to underline the point made in the Report of the Finance Committee about the centrality of information to the activities of FAO. This is probably the most important function of FAO, the generation and the transfer of information in various forms. Because of this it was rather disturbing to find that the Evaluation pointed to the fact -- and I am generalizing here -- that FAO publications are mainly used by academic and research institutions and central government in developed countries, whereas they are very relatively less used, relatively little used by local-level organizations in developing countries.
This begs the question of the relevance of FAO information on the one hand and, on the other, why this information is not reaching the intended target audience to the extent that we think it should. We would therefore like to support the recommendations in paragraph 3.27 of the Report of the Finance Committee where it is pointed out that this type of evaluation should continue to examine these particular issues. We would like to emphasize the need for this type of evaluation regarding this important function of FAO.
Tony WADE (Director, Office of Programme, Budget and Evaluation): Thank you very much Mr Chairman, and thank you, also, to all of the delegates who spoke. I think it is not a question of answering questions. In fact, I think we can agree with pretty well everything that was said. What you are asking us to go for is what we are trying to achieve. It takes time and it will take more time to reach our goal in this.
I would like to mention briefly the continuum that we are working through to try and make the Programme more -- I do not know if the word exists -- evaluatable, more able to be evaluated. You will see that in the short term what we have been doing is trying to make the Programme of Work and Budget much more specific, so each Programme element now has defined main outputs that will be achieved for the Programme element relation to the described objective for that element.
We are working very hard in the current Programme of Work and Budget Document to ensure a good line of cause and effect from the outputs that we are proposing to the objectives that we are defining. That, incidently, is an exercise which is being carried out very much by the Evaluation Service. Because it is located in the Office of Programme, Budget and Evaluation, it means that the feedback loop is very strong. So the submissions that are coming from Divisions are going to the Evaluation Service, which is applying its experience in this process to try and see how that whole definition of what it is we are setting out to do can be better defined and improved.
There are one or two specific comments which may be worth mentioning. I think on gender issues the distinguished delegate of the United States of America emphasised the importance of this. I would like to mention that we are making a particular effort in the 1998-99 budget to have all Divisions identify the actions they are taking on gender mainstreaming. In fact, we expect to provide a section in the Document, perhaps as an addendum, which will cover the resources being
applied to this effort. It came out of the Programme and the Finance Committees, actually on the Special Programme for Food Security and on Women in Development -- I have to say, for slightly different reasons -- that there was an interest in seeing what inputs were going into these Programmes from elsewhere within the Programme structure. Because you can "cut the cake" so many ways that it is very difficult to give a complete picture. So, we have chosen these two areas to try and give a cross-sectoral view of what inputs and outputs are going to be produced under those cross-sectoral Programmes.
Impact of reduced staff: again the United States of America, but other delegates did comment on this. It is worth mentioning that a lot of our problems have been due to the fact we could not fill posts and we could not use outside contractors because we did not have the money coming in fast enough. So, it is not just an administrative problem, it is also a problem of ensuring the contributions come through in time. That may not have come out clearly in the Report but it has to be recognized as one of the issues which the Organization faces.
The distinguished delegate of Mexico commented on paragraph 264 and the imbalance between normative and operational activities. I am not sure if I understood your comment correctly. Our concern, basically, is that the Fisheries Programme, in the field side, has declined so seriously that the feedback from practical experience in the field to the normative offices running this Programme is beginning to weaken, to a degree that might be serious. In other words, because, overall, development assistance to Fisheries Programmes has gone down, presumably as a reflection of the issue of capacity on high-seas fishing, etc., it has effected all elements of fisheries, including, quite illogically, aquaculture. We just do not have or the same volume of field programmes that you would expect. We are examining that issue to and try and find ways in which we can attract resources to those areas of the entire Fisheries Programme, which are so critical and on which more assistance is required.
You also raised the question about whether the suggested National Account System, replacing quotas, could become difficult in terms of budget and in terms of the administration of it. First of all, we will try very hard to come up with a proposal which does not include a lot of bureaucratic steps, otherwise it will clog the whole thing up. The second thing is that we are already spending a lot of money here. If I remember the figures correctly, it is US$11 million a biennium that we spent in 1994-95 in providing free distribution of publications. What we felt is, that we could transfer that US$ 11 million and make it available in a much more effective way. I agree with you that has to be done in such a way that it works, and we will be trying very hard to achieve that.
I think that is probably all we need to say at this stage.
M. HAYASHI (Assistant Director-General, Fisheries Department): Mr Wade has made already a good response to the queries made by the distinguished Representative of Mexico with regard to the activities in Fisheries. I would like to add simply that one of the ways to improve this situation caused by the decrease in the amount of assistance from donors would be to focus on stronger systems in the field of the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, as rightly stressed by the distinguished Representative of Mexico. Indeed we have several project documents prepared in support of the implementation of the Code and, if a sufficient amount of financial assistance will be coming in this area, we can considerably strengthen the activities in the field of better fisheries management because all the activities regarding improvement of management in the field of fisheries are included in this important document.
DEPUTY DIRECTOR-GENERAL: I just wanted to make a comment in response to the comments of Canada with respect to our Special Relief Operations. I am sure there is a major misunderstanding, as there is no other body in the UN system that has a responsibility for the assistance in the provision of essential agricultural inputs in the aftermath of an emergency. This is an integral part of FAO's mandate. We have been responding to requests for emergency assistance
since the beginning days of the Organization, and have had this Special Office of Relief Operations for twenty-five years. Last year, for example, we operated 57 new projects in 31 countries. We specifically have the responsibility for the assessment of needs for essential agricultural inputs in the aftermath of an emergency. We have the responsibility to prepare the project profiles that appear in the Inter-Agency Consolidated Appeals that are put together by the Department of Humanitarian Affairs. FAO is a full member, of course, of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee on Humanitarian Affairs which meets at the Under-Secretary-General level, of which I therefore am a member. We have a responsibility to help governments coordinate the flow of inputs because inputs come from all different sources; some governments make contributions directly to NGOs, others provide it indirectly. We also have a responsibility for the operation of emergency projects if the governments so wish us to do so.
I thought it would be helpful to have that explanation, as there is nobody else that I know of that the members of this Organization can turn to when they have a flood, when they have a hurricane, when they have a drought, or any other emergency matter that involves the food and agriculture sector. They have a right to come to us for whatever assistance we can provide; we do our best to provide it. It is interesting to note that we do not use Regular Programme budget resources for this activity. It has been in operation all these years; it is fully funded from projects, from the donations that are made by Member Nations or World Bank or UNDP, for these activities.
D. BOMMER (Chairman, Programme Committee): I only wanted to express on behalf of the Programme Committee Members, most of whom are here, our thanks to the Council for supporting the views we have expressed. If there has been a considerable improvement in the work, the Evaluation, we fully share in the thanks to the Evaluation Service. They have done an excellent job and we will further improve, you can be sure, in the future, after this very important exercise.
EL PRESIDENTE: Podemos concluir este tema, advirtiendo primero que el Consejo coincidió en la importancia de la evaluación como base para la planeación. El Consejo acogió el conjunto y de manera positiva las innovaciones introducidas en esta versión de la evaluación y, recomendó que debían mantenerse. Se destacó la utilidad de las observaciones de los directores de los programas pertinentes o de la administración superior sobre los principales temas, y las recomendaciones al respecto.
Se indicó que esto ayudaba sin duda a la transparencia de la Organización y a la mayor interacción entre los programas. El Consejo alentó a que se buscaran, desde luego, ulteriores mejoras para conseguir un análisis más pormenorizado de las actividades de la FAO. Se destacó que la evaluación debe comprender el efecto concreto de las acciones de la FAO sobre población, el objetivo y las metas concretas establecidas y que debía seguir lo que todo programa y proyecto debería contener, es decir, una clara identificación de la prioridad de los programas, los objetivos e indicadores de éstos y las fórmulas de seguimiento de los mismos y dar respuesta a cada uno de estos pasos.
Los resultados de las evaluaciones deberían reflejarse claramente en el Programa de Labores y Presupuesto y, en particular, de esto debería destacarse y centrarse más la función de la FAO en sus ventajas comparativas.
El Consejo ratificó las conclusiones y las recomendaciones en especial las de los dos exámenes temáticos relativos a las operaciones especiales de socorro de la FAO y las actividades de publicaciones de la Organización. Efectivamente, se reconoció que es imprescindible que la FAO continúe prestando asistencia con objetivos bien definidos en caso de situaciones de urgencia, particularmente para la fase de reconstrucción, desde luego en plena coordinación y cooperación con otras agencias involucradas.
Es igualmente importante que se mantenga un programa de publicaciones activo y pertinente, para satisfacer de manera más eficaz las necesidades de información en un mundo que está en rápido
cambio, en un mundo que se está globalizando, ejerciendo así la importante función que la Constitución de la FAO establece de difusión de la información. Se coincidió en que la distribución y la lista de destinatarios debería revisarse y optimizarse, particularmente con el fin de promover esta información en países en desarrollo, pero también con miras a que la distribución de publicaciones lleve a una reducción del número de ejemplares entregados conforme así proceda.
Finalmente, se recordó que los idiomas utilizados en la Organización son lenguas oficiales de la FAO y que son igualmente válidos y no deben descriminarse al respecto.
Obviamente distinguidos delegados, se hicieron otras observaciones y estoy seguro que el informe de la FAO las recogerá con todo el equilibrio necesario.
Kezimbira Lawrence MIYINGO (Uganda): I am sorry to have been taken a little aback by a comment on the documentation and the distribution of information that originates from FAO. In some of the developing countries, where the official languages of FAO are not the languages that are understood by the majority of the citizens of these countries, many publications that come from FAO remain on the shelves and do not benefit the majority of the people, especially the extension workers, and the resources for distribution and translation into the different languages are not available.
I was wondering if the selection of documents that are sent to these individual countries could not be limited so that a little fund is available at the local FAO offices to effect some translations of some of the documents in order to produce effective information.
EL PRESIDENTE: Se ha tomado nota de su petición y estoy seguro que se atenderá.
Si no hubiera ninguna otra observación damos por concluido el Tema 14 de nuestra agenda y pasamos al Tema 15, Plan a Plazo Medio 1998-2003.
EL PRESIDENTE: Como ustedes saben, esta es la cuarta versión del Plan a Plazo Medio que se presenta al Consejo y a la Conferencia. Hay que destacar que este Plan se preparó muy poco después de conocerse las conclusiones de un acontecimiento tan importante como lo fue la Cumbre Mundial de la Alimentación y en efecto en él han influido notablemente los resultados de la Cumbre como espero ustedes apreciarán. En los lugares oportunos aparecen referencias a los compromisos de la Cumbre y no cabe duda de que los miembros del Consejo encontrarán interesante el cuadro ilustrativo de referencias entre las esferas prioritarias de los programas principales sustantivos y los compromisos de la Cumbre Mundial al final del Capítulo 3.
El Plan no se limita a proponer un conjunto homogéneo de prioridades programáticas a plazo medio, sino que además ofrece varios principios rectores para el examen de las políticas y contiene un resumen útil de las medidas previstas en los sectores administrativos y de apoyo.
El Presidente del Comité del Programa examinó las prioridades que se indican en el Plan. Los miembros de Comité hicieron un amplio ejercicio al respecto, señalando a nuestra atención, los sectores a los que considera debería darse mayor relieve.
A parte del contenido específico del Plan que tenemos ante nosotros, el Comité del Programa se detuvo también a examinar la finalidad y posible contenido de tales planes en el futuro, y al
respecto, se prevé un posible cambio de contenido que derivará del nuevo modelo de programa si la Conferencia, desde luego, aprueba su aplicación más generalizada.
El Comité de Programa también, como ustedes pueden ver, examinó el concepto de Plan Progresivo y consideró que podía interpretarse de varias formas, ya que los Estados Miembros pueden tener diferentes expectativas respecto del objeto y la función de tal documento de políticas en el proceso de adopción de decisiones. El Comité invita a este Consejo, y nosotros desde luego a la Conferencia, a reexaminar el proceso de planificación a plazo medio de la FAO, con objeto de que responda plenamente a las necesidades de los órganos rectores evitando al mismo tiempo toda repetición que sea innecesaria.
Tony WADE (Director, Office of Programme, Budget and Evaluation): Mr Chairman, only very briefly because you have fully introduced the report. I will just add that the Secretariat is very interested in Council's view on the question raised by the Programme Committee about what the future of the Plan should be. Some have held the view that a concentrated effort to produce a brand new Medium-Term Plan every six years would result in a more innovative document and perhaps something more strategic instead of the inevitable incrementalism that occurs with producing a two-yearly update.
The information I wanted to add was that if Council decided to recommend that it didn't produce a Medium-Term Plan in one biennium or another, the savings in direct production costs would be about US$ 55 000 per biennium.
E. Wayne DENNEY (United States of America): The current version of the Medium-Term Plan has undergone several changes in tone and focus. In recent years we have congratulated the Secretariat for gradually making improvements from the previous Plan. While the 1998-2003 Plan does contain some valuable information, is presented in a concise fashion and discusses several priority areas that we can support, we generally believe that it is not well-focused. It falls short of providing us a vision for the future, it does little more than restate arguments for the next Summary Programme of Work and Budget.
For this document to be truly useful it needs to provide a strategy for investing FAO resources combined with a clear estimate of what results we expect to attain in key areas at the end of the planning period. Such a strategic vision will allow us to better judge our performance and ensure that we are taking the necessary steps to meet our objectives.
We are pleased to see that the document concludes that the Plan will have to be implemented in a period of budgetary constraint. We agree with that conclusion. The Plan has several positive features, including the attention given to developing appropriate policies, the need to give more opportunities to women, the emphasis on agricultural research, biotechnology, trade liberalization, science-based standard setting, and the importance of expanded partnerships. But, we believe there is over-emphasis on the Food Summit and Food Security, as narrowly defined as FAO's primary focus and not enough attention to other recent international conferences which the World Food Summit complements, or signals that FAO Governing Bodies have sent regarding programme direction.
As the international community and the UN System committed in 1992, by promoting sustainable development as their broadest priority objective, we recognize the need for both a broader understanding of what constitutes food security at the World Food Summit. This larger vision and its multidisciplinary direction is inadequately addressed in the Medium-Term Plan under review. Nor is adequate recognition given to the vital importance of FAO's normative functions in contributing to world food security.
We find that much of the beginning portion of the document concentrates on areas where FAO may not have a comparative advantage, while the last half of the document, does not give us enough indication of where FAO is heading beyond what we know from reading the summary Programme of Work and Budget.
For these reasons, we recommend that FAO move to strategic budgeting and subsequent revisions of the Plan.
Aidan O'DRISCOLL (Ireland): Firstly, I would like to ask you to give the floor to the delegate of The Netherlands to make a statement on behalf of the European Community and its Member States. I would ask if you then add me to the list of speakers as I would also like to make a national statement subsequently.
J.B. PIETERS (Observer for the Netherlands): Indeed, I will speak on behalf of the European Community and its Member States. We would like to express our views on the Medium-Term Plan. I must say that the FAO Secretariat did not make our work easy because we received this document, as well as other important documents for the session, very late in the capitals. Therefore, we suggest that FAO make these documents available, for instance, on Internet.
This Plan is an important vehicle in setting the direction for the Organization to take, with vision and priorities. We would underline the need for careful analysis in order to achieve a soundly based strategic plan. Recognizing the perception that food security and sustainable development are essentially two sides of the same coin, it must be shown that this is more than just playing with words. In this connection, it should be made clear that poverty and insufficient food production is the basic cause of the extensive food insecurity in the world today. This forms, in our opinion, the context in which the Medium-Term Plan should define the role to be played by FAO.
In our view, the general orientation for assessing FAO's role should consist of several elements: (i) the universal character of FAO should be reflected in its priorities, as well as in the scope and coverage of its activities; (ii) the Organization should be a centre of excellence in the field of food, agriculture, forestry and fisheries which, in our opinion, means it has a leading position in partnership with others in these policy areas and is capable of reacting adequately to international developments; (iii) it is essential that FAO cooperates and coordinates with other UN organizations; (iv) priorities should be derived from the internationally agreed positions such as the areas of Agenda 21, for which FAO is the Task Manager, and the functions allocated to FAO in the Plan of Action of the World Food Summit; (v) the budgetary framework in which FAO must operate provides an increasing need to establish priorities in its Medium-Term Plan, and to be selective on the issues on which the Organization maintains or develops a leading position.
With respect to the policy context, we believe that the strength of FAO as all other Specialized Agencies, are to be found in their normative and guideline roles, highlighting the need for synergy between its normative and guideline roles and its operational activities. Its operational activities should in any event rest only on a comparative advantage criteria, in order to avoid duplication with other UN bodies.
We are somewhat disappointed with the small section on the governance in the document. Streamlining the goverance's mechanisms is an ongoing process for any UN organization and in FAO we have the process of review of statutory bodies and panels of experts, initiated in 1996. In the broader UN context there is an ongoing process with particular reference to FAO, and that is the UN reform in the economic and social sectors. The Council may be aware that the European Union, as well as the Nordic countries, presented proposals in this respect.
The Secretary General of the United Nations will shortly present his proposals for this reform which, at this stage, will be limited to UN Headquarters. It is foreseen that as a next step this
process will be extended to the Specialized Agencies. In this connection, relevant aspects for FAO are: interagency relations and more intense coordination at the regional and field level. We would appreciate to learn about the Secretariat's views on this important process on governance within the UN system. We suggest that the Secretariat take a proactive stance on it which certainly merits inclusion in the Medium-Term Plan.
For the Secretariat, references to the World Food Summit Plan of Action seem to provide justification to include a large number of different programmes and sub-programmes in the Medium-Term Plan, calling it either a key main component or very important section or otherwise of high importance without any rating. We see a need for a clear differentiation between programmes of high and of low priority. At the recent sessions of the Committees on Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture where the respective parts of the Medium-Term Plan were discussed for the first time, the European Union has already stressed the need for a clear programme prioritization and for a clear delineation between high and low priorities.
We emphasize the important normative function of assisting in the formulation of fisheries and aquaculture policies, globally as well as in the framework of the regional fisheries bodies, which should be strengthened in the Medium-Term Plan. Implementation of the cult of context on responsible fisheries, particularly through strengthening regional fisheries organizations is of the utmost importance.
In the field of forestry, FAO should support the international dialogue on sustainable forest management in line with its role of Task Manager for the first three chapters of Agenda 21 and with particular emphasis on criteria and indicators. It should continue to provide normative and strategic support to international first initiatives, as well as assist and support countries with the development and execution of national forest programmes.
Turning to specific comments on the document itsel,f we welcome the new agricultural model in which FAO post WFS work should be directed. We can agree with the perceptions on which the model is based, since they integrate in a balanced way the many horizontal and vertical linkages, as well as the forward and backward linkages of primary production and of the agricultural sector as a whole.
Concerning modalities of implementation, three elements are highlighted in the document. Firstly, resource mobilization; secondly, decentralization; and thirdly, expanding partnerships. We agree that these are essential issues for any organization that wants to fulfil its mission.
More broadly, so far as FAO's agricultural activities are concerned, key tasks should, in our view, be derived from thorough analysis. We question the extent to which the Secretariat's document appears to focus on the Special Programme for Food Security.
Finally, we would like to ask the Secretariat to produce a revised version of the Medium-Term Plan, including the synoptic table on the basis of comments we and others have made during this debate under this item.
Aidan O'DRISCOLL (Ireland): Firstly, I would of course like to associate Ireland fully with the statement just made by the Presidency of the EU on behalf of the European Community and its Member States.
There is much that is positive in this document in its identification of the medium term challenges in Chapter 1, and in the strategic orientations in Chapter 2. We welcome, for example, the identification in Chapter 1 of the need for appropriate policies which do not penalize agriculture in paragraph 17. We would, however, have liked to have seen this point developed further.
In Chapter 2, we concur with the way in which the issues of food security and sustainable development are brought together. We also welcome many of the elements in the new model of agriculture in Chapter 2. We are happy, in particular, to see recognition of the need to go beyond primary production and to pay more attention to related upstream and downstream activities. We agree, also, that work on technical and economic programmes should be based particularly on capacity building.
While welcoming these and other elements in Chapters 1 and 2, we must also say that there are some very important gaps in these sections. The lack of emphasis on poverty as the source of food insecurity is one glaring example. The struggle against poverty must be put at the centre of FAO's mission.
It is, however, when we turn to Chapter 3 that the greatest difficulties with this documents arise. This is presumably where the plan should be, based on the strategic orientations in Chapter 2. However, we find no clear vision or meaningful strategy in this chapter. The list of priorities in Chapter 3 is, among other things, improbably long; many items are very generally stated and there is little emphasis on the strategic orientations from Chapter 2. For example, there is no sign of the integrated approach which is promised in the new agriculture model. What we would expect to see in a medium term plan is a clearer statement of where FAO is going in the period to 2003. This requires a number of steps or elements.
Firstly, there should be a clearer analysis of the environment in which the Organization must operate and of the opportunities and threats for the Organization in that environment.
Secondly, there must be an honest assessment of the Organization's own strengths and weaknesses.
Thirdly, there should be a statement arising from the first two steps of FAO's broad objective or mission.
Fourthly, there should be a clear set of strategic objectives and priorities for the period of the Plan, along with a mechanism for assessing performance against objective, which means having appropriate targets and indicators, an issue referred to by Mr Wade in his summing up remarks in the last agenda item.
Finally, there should be a work planning mechanism to ensure that the work undertaken by the units of the Organization follows the strategic objectives and priorities.
I am sure that many delegates will recognize these steps as the textbook elements of any strategic management or planning process which many of us have experience of in own administrations. FAO would benefit from this approach also. In that regard, I would like to welcome the reference in paragraph 185 to the introduction of a system of performance appraisal with identified objectives and outputs. This is a key issue in the planning process which should receive far greater attention in the document.
To conclude, I have emphasized that there are some good and some bad things in this document and many things that are missing. Nevertheless, taking a positive view, we welcome it as a working document. We look forward to seeing the Plan.
Andrew PEARSON (Australia): I, too, would firstly like to pick up the comments that have been made by the three preceding speakers - that takes up many of the detail which I will not repeat --but would just like to emphasize Australia's belief that a Medium-Term Plan is a very key organizational planning tool. It needs a focus on the key priorities and objectives, and the assessment of their outcomes for the Organization.
It also needs to be better linked with the technical committees. One of the drawbacks of a very compressed calendar and one which, I think, is important to look at in the future, is to ensure that the interaction between the discussions at the technical committees and their recommendations feed into something like updates of the Medium-term Plan, so that we get this interaction between implementation and assessment, because there is a need to ensure that we do not duplicate the technical contents of their discussions, but rather we consider the fundamental orientations that underpin programmes of this Organization.
Chapters 1 and 2 of the Medium-Term Plan are the sort of information that we need for our future documents along these lines.
Just drawing in particular, then, on paragraph 2.30 of CL 112/14, which notes that there are potential drawbacks in preparing a fully-fledged self-contained version for each biennium. Australia would certainly endorse that, but it is not because it entails, in many instances, substantial repetition between successive versions. It is because you are not producing the right kind of document at all, and so it is not duplication we are looking to avoid, it is, in fact, enhancing the capacity of the Organization to examine its directions and look at them carefully and honestly.
So, as a final point in relation to the suggestion of a possible alternative, a rolling plan on a six-year cycle is appropriate. However, it is important in considering the intermediate years, or the intermediate biennia, that it is not simply an update but it is a report that does analyze how the performance has been and whether, in the following biennium, there are some major changes that membership need to look at, particularly when we are considering the link into the next proposed Programme of Work and the potential budget that may be entailed in implementing that Programme of Work.
T. SUDO (Japan): With respect to the revised FAO's Mid-term Plan, taking into consideration the outcome of the World Food Summit, my delegation also regards it as a key element just after the World Food Summit and would like to endorse, in general, the documents produced by the Secretariat.
In this connection, I would like to touch on a few points in the documents.
Firstly, with regard to discussions at the 14th Session of COAG, the COAG confirmed the importance of EMPRES and IPPC, as well as the need to address the issues on the livestock sector, animals and plant genetic resources, pesticides and the formulation of agricultural trade policy.
Furthermore, in order to ensure food security, the COAG confirmed the importance of FIVIMS, as well as the Women in Development Programme and consolidation of the GIEWS function.
My delegation appreciates the work done by the Secretariat and it expects the Secretariat to make the order of priority more obvious under the budgetary constraints, and to strengthen their achievements in FAO's agricultural comparative advantage sectors.
Secondly, in the field of Forestry: the 13th Session of COFO indicated that FAO's future actions should focus on some works of FAO's comparative advantage among proposed actions of IPF. This includes the National Forestry Programme, Community Forestry, various statistics and FRA. As current priority items, my delegation considers the importance of sustainable forestry management and long-term outlook, and considers that duplication with other international organizations' activities should be avoided.
Finally, in the field of Fisheries: during the 22nd Session of COFI, as areas of high priority in future, FAO confirmed the following items: firstly, implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries', secondly, the reduction of excessive fishing, fishing capacity and fishing
efforts; thirdly, reduction of by catch and discards; fourthly, promotion of the introduction of the precautionary approach and the importance of monitoring control on surveillances; and, lastly, collecting data, formulating research needs and recommending management options.
In addition to these six items, Japan considers that FAO should actively address a study for marine species management and study for socio-economic implications, fisheries which are included in the Kyoto Declaration and Plan of Action as Japan proposed.
Ronald ROSE (Canada): The Canadian delegation certainly welcomes the opportunity to comment upon the contents and the purposes of the Medium-Term Plan. We strongly agree with the comments which have already been made by the United States, by the Netherlands on behalf of the Member States of the European Union, by Ireland and Australia, and this allows me to make my intervention that much more brief. I will refrain from stressing points that they have already made.
We believe that it is appropriate that we look at this Medium-Term Plan just after having looked at the Evaluation Report, because it is our hope that we will soon be looking at these two documents as well as others as part of an integrated whole, and that they become even more coordinated in the future.
We also strongly support the comments that were made by the Programme Committee concerning the weaknesses of the current Medium-Term Plan, particularly paragraph 2.29.
What Canada expected to find in reviewing the Medium-Term Plan was for the Organization to lay out its plans as to how FAO was going to fulfil the mandate which was foreseen for the period 1996-2001 in the previous Medium-Term Plan. We expected it to incorporate lessons learnt from programme evaluations and to provide guidance for the next Programme of Work and Budget, to set the targets for the next biennium, in order to achieve the objectives which had been set out in that Medium-Term Plan. But rather than a modification of the Medium-Term Plan that we had agreed to years ago, what we found was that the Plan was completely re-written, largely as a result of the World Food Summit, and that it reflects the prominence being given to the Special Programme on Food Security, both as a specific FAO programme and as a methodology for country-level strategic planning.
As pointed out by the Programme Committee, this re-write is contrary to the concept established by Conference that it would be a six-year plan, updated but not re-written every two years.
We agree that the World Food Summit was certainly an important event in the life of FAO and the life of the world, and much was decided which will have an impact on the work of FAO, in the short term and in the medium term. Nevertheless, we expected that the results of the World Food Summit would produce modifications to the objectives of the Medium-Term Plan and not a complete re-drafting. To borrow language from the jargon of space probes, we thought that the Medium-Term Plan would be subject to "mid-course corrections" and not re-writes.
We also feel that the current re-write of the Medium-Term Plan appears to be essentially an extension of the 1998-99 Programme of Work and Budget, rather than a distinct Medium-Term Plan. As a result, we have the problem that the future is being defined somewhat in terms of the past. As we have already mentioned and as will be mentioned when we discuss the Summary Programme of Work and Budget, these difficulties could be overcome by a more strategic approach to budgeting, which we are going to, as I mentioned, cover under a following agenda item.
We are concerned, as I mentioned, with the emphasis placed on the outcome of the World Food Summit in this re-written document, not because we do not feel that the World Food Summit was important, but we feel that, in addition to the World Food Summit, it is also important to note the demands made upon FAO from other Summits and from World Conferences, such as those at Rio
and Leipzig, demands flowing from the Uruguay Round of Trade Negotiations, and recommendations negotiated during meetings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests, to name but a few.
Achieving world food security is certainly a fundamental challenge for governments, civil society and the international community. However, in Canada's opinion, the questions outlined in Chapter 1 mainly relate to issues of production, sustainability, trade and investment, which may be important in some countries, but not in all. Although FAO's mandate certainly covers these factors, future editions of the document, we hope, would also take into account, more explicitly, other aspects of food security related to access and other aspects of the seven Commitments of the Rome Declaration and Plan of Action.
Canada certainly feels that the normative actions for the monitoring analysis in reporting regarding nutrition, food safety and agricultural information, should be maintained and enhanced through such systems and organizations as the Codex Alimentarius, the Global Information and Early Warning Systems maintained by the FAO World Agricultural Information Centre and the Virtual Library, etc. The Global Perspective Studies and the World Food Security Analyses are important activities to be maintained and expanded where appropriate.
The Medium-Term Plan, in Canada's view, should be one of a series of tools that make up the planning system within FAO, but certainly one of the most important of those tools. The Medium-Term Plan should lay out the broad objectives of the Organization, taking into account the lessons learnt from programme evaluations and from the Programme Implementation Report, and should be augmented or supported by the Programme of Work and Budget which outlines how those broad objectives are going to be achieved in the next biennium.
In closing, I think it is fair to say that Canada found the Medium-Term Plan did not meet our expectations in charting the strategies and directions, either for the 1996-2001 period or for the 1998-2003. It should be a strategic document that should be developed in line with the instructions of the last Conference and provide a beacon for future directions.
In addition, we would certainly expect to see that the decisions made at the preceding COFO, COFI and COAG meetings will be eventually reflected in this Medium-Term Plan.
Jorgen Skovgaard NIELSEN (Denmark): First of all, I would like to make full reference to a statement made by the EU Presidency. Since this is the first time I have the floor, I would express my full confidence in your ability to preside this meeting, as well as the organizational skills of the FAO in arranging this meeting.
The Medium-Term Plans have, in many years, been considered to be core instruments for FAO Governing Bodies. The Plans provided the framework for longer range visions. It goes without saying that this function has grown in importance. With the ever-accelerating changes and developments in the world community, six years has become a long time span. Probably, changes in the period 1998-2003 will be even more dramatic than in the past period 1991-1997 and, therefore, I fully concur with the previous speakers and regret the lack of vision in the Medium-Term Plan we have in front of us.
The aim of FAO is therefore to be able to respond to or, even better, to influence decisively the ever-changing trends in the global community, in so far as they have an impact on food and agriculture. This is the moment for expressing visions rather than to extrapolate current programmes.
Globalization is such a strong feature in our time that it will keep its momentum, but also face serious challenges. A parallel feature is rapid urbanization. Sustainability is an excellent but also a
not very well-defined criterion. It is worrying that its application often has been too narrow. Until now, it has almost exclusively focused on the supply side. However, sustainability is a question of livelihood as well as respect for ecosystems. Sustainability should also focus on the demand side.
Globalization is increasingly comparing production norms with consumption norms. These differences in norms may be due to geographical distance but they can also exist in the same region. Urbanization has the same effect. The result is a growing risk of alienation of consumers in relation to food products and the consequence, too often, is fear and rejection of food, a rejection that is not always based entirely on proper documentation.
On the other hand, solid scientific documentation of food health and quality has appeared not to be sufficient to persuade consumers of today who may reject food from pure ethical reasons. Uncertainties concerning food production that is perceived as artificial and delinked from natural processes are another reason for fear and rejection.
All countries and international communities must face and deal with these consequences of globalization and urbanization. The phenomenon of ethical rejection is today, first of all, existing in affluent countries, but it will certainly proliferate through vanguard segments to developing countries as well.
What does this development mean to FAO? With its "new agricultural model", FAO certainly is going to confront these issues and this must be commended. But the model does not go far enough and it is, in fact, in most respects, not new. It is indeed important that the model goes beyond primary production with more emphasis on post-harvest environments. In this context, FAO could pursue its analysis of the impact of post-harvest activities on small farming units in local communities, because post-harvest activities are also to the benefit of non-agricultural, rural people in all kinds of communities. However, reliable food control institutions and systems are indispensable elements in post-harvest environments, in particular if processed food is to achieve competitiveness. In this context, FAO's aim to promote enabling environments in rural areas is relevant, in particular if supplemented by empowering processes through development of human capital. Terms for rural financing and conditions for rural labour should be seen in this context.
Last but not least, enabling and empowering of consumer environments are necessary in order to prevent alienation from production. Improvements of nutritional levels, purchasing power and sustainable recycling of wastes are indeed strictly necessary elements, but not sufficient. Consumers in a globalized community need education, information and insight in order to make qualified and informed choices of food. This goes for poor urban and rural consumers and for affluent consumers as well.
Consumer confidence (or "political sustainability") and post-harvest environments, including reliable control systems, deserve a much higher priority from FAO. Within a nominal zero-growth framework, this could imply reduction of some primary sector-related activities.
This in no way reflects a neglect of primary sector and the need of an enhanced emphasis on sustainability in production. Nor does it disregard the need to respect local ecosystems. Actually, we may all of us be sending a wrong signal if natural resource management and sustainability are gathered in one single budget line, for instance, 188.8.131.52, in FAO's Programme of Work and Budget. Rather, it should go without saying that ecological sustainability must be an integrated element in almost all budget lines.
Being a "Centre of Excellence", FAO is committed to face all new technologies without prejudice, even those that may be controversial. While FAO should be very attentive to current political signals, it should nevertheless analyze and submit its views on the contributions to food security of all sustainable and appropriate new technologies. In these activities, cooperation with scientific
environments, in particular the CGIAR, should be enhanced. This gives our communities, i.e. governments, consumers and producers, better bases for making choices. However, we must face that, in spite of an apparently scientifically well-documented benefit to human health and natural environments, consumers may, for religious, historical or purely ethical reasons, abstain from buying food produced through certain methods they dislike. More such criteria of sovereign consumer choices will probably be added in future, regardless of the removal of non-tariff barriers by WTO and corresponding bodies. It only matters that the choices should be clear and conscious.
Labelling and certification may be a valuable tool for developing informed and conscious choices. However, this presupposes a reliable control system, a cooperating production environment and, last but not least, simple labels to the benefit of the poorest and least-educated consumers. Development of such information systems through labelling or certification could be an important task for international agencies. Ethics demand reliable control systems; thus normative support to countries who want to benefit from globalization implies support to quality systems.
If we look at the crystal ball, enablement and empowerment of women, respect of indigenous peoples, empowerment of civil society and active participation of farmers and their organizations in development of sustainable farming systems will be still more imperative demands to an organization like FAO. I am convinced that before 2003 still other imperatives will introduce themselves forcefully.
Finally I would say that, in general, we support the initiatives taken by FAO in the ISIS information techniques areas, although, of course, we could question the pace of the development in that area, but we consider that to be a strong area where FAO has comparative advantages.
I may have been continuing a bit too long but finally I have to tell you that this statement has been prepared in cooperation with the Observers from Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
The meeting rose at 13.00 hours
La séance est levée à 13 h 00
Se levanta la sesión a las 13.00 horas