TWENTY SECOND FAO REGIONAL CONFERENCE FOR EUROPE
Porto, Portugal, 24-28 July 2000
REGIONAL REPRESENTATION AT THE CONSULTATIVE GROUP ON INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH (CGIAR)
1. The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) was established in 1971 as a result of initiatives by FAO, UNDP and the World Bank as Co-sponsors of the Consultative Group. At its Sixteenth Session, in 1971, the FAO Conference considered the issue of the representation of developing countries within the Consultative Group, in connection with a proposal that it should arrange for the selection of appropriate representatives. The Conference referred the matter to the Council. The Conference also decided that the Regional Conferences should be "the principal forum for briefing the selected representatives of each region on the research needs and priorities for that region".
2. Meanwhile, an informal agreement was reached within the Consultative Group whereby two representatives from each developing region would attend its meetings. Criteria for their selection were developed and their responsibilities determined.
3. The Council agreed to these proposals at its Fifty Ninth Session in November 1972. From then onwards, the representatives of each region have been elected by the Regional Conferences, initially for periods of two years.
4. In the intervening twenty-five years, developing country membership of the CGIAR has increased dramatically; at present, twenty one of the forty-three members of the CGIAR are developing countries. Furthermore, Regional Organizations such as the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development, the African, Asian and Inter-American Development Banks, together with IFAD, IDRC and the European Commission are playing increasingly active roles, along with the Co-sponsors, in guiding the CGIAR Agenda.
5. As part of this changing interface in international agricultural research, the Global Forum on Agricultural Research (GFAR) was founded on 31 October 1996 by representatives of the developing-country national agricultural research systems (NARS), advanced research institutions (ARIs), regional and sub-regional organisations, universities, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), farmers'organizations, the private sector, international agricultural research centres (IARCs), and the donor community. GFAR received the support of the CGIAR, as it was perceived as a unique opportunity to strengthen its interaction with the developing countries' NARS.
6. A steering committee composed of the Chairpersons of the four regional fora (Asia/Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa, and West Asia and North Africa) was constituted. A fifth regional forum is under discussion for Central Asia and the Caucasus countries. A small, lean NARS Secretariat was also established. FAO played a key role in the establishment of GFAR. It is also hosting the NARS Secretariat that became operational in the second half of 1998.
7. As part of these developments, the CGIAR initiated a comprehensive review of the System (The Third System Review) in 1997. One of the recommendations of the Review is that the current system of regional representation at the CGIAR should be phased out in consultation with FAO. The recommendation was endorsed by the Group and FAO, as Co-sponsor, was requested to consult with its Governing Bodies on the implementation of the decision.
8. The decision is predicated on the fact that developing countries at present account for approximately fifty percent of CGIAR country membership and the representation through the NARS Steering Committee of the Global Forum on Agricultural Research constitutes an appropriate mechanism for the continuous inputs of developing countries and regions' concerns to the research agenda of the CGIAR.
9. The FAO Council at its 117th Session, held from 9 to 11 November 1999, directed that member countries be formally informed that it had endorsed the following: