CL 117/INF/10


Hundred and Seventeenth Session

Rome, 9-11 November 1999



1. The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research 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" (Cf. Report of the Sixteenth Session of the Conference, Rome, 6-25 November 1971, paragraphs 313-319). At its Fifty-Eighth Session, in November 1971, the Council "proposed (...) Member Nations from the FAO Developing Regions to the (CGIAR)". The Council also agreed that if the 1972 Regional Conference proposed any changes to the designated countries the proposals would be taken into consideration by the Council at its next session (Cf. Report of the Fifty-Eighth Session of the Council, Rome, 26 November 1971, paragraphs 10 and 11).

2. Meanwhile, an informal agreement was reached within the Consultative Group whereby two representatives from each developing region would attend its meetings. The Council agreed to these proposals at its Fifty-Ninth Session in November 1972 (Cf. Report of the Fifty-Ninth Session of the Council, Rome, 20 November-1 December 1972, paragraphs 119 and 120). The Consultative Group also proposed criteria for the selection of those representatives and the exercise of their responsibilities. From then onwards, the representatives of each region have been elected by the Regional Conferences, initially for periods of two years.

3. 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 Organisations 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.

4. 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' organisations, 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.

5. The developing countries' NARS which are at the origin of GFAR decided to constitute a specific 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). A fifth regional forum is under discussion for central Asia and the Caucasus countries. They also requested the international community to support a small, lean NARS Secretariat with the mission of "strengthening the collective voice of the NARS community in setting and implementing a global research agenda, responsive to the three goals of poverty alleviation, food security, and sustainable use of natural resources". FAO played a key role in the establishment of GFAR, and in particular of its NARS component. FAO offered to host the NARS Secretariat of GFAR and this Secretariat became operational in the second half of 1998.

6. As part of these developments, the CGIAR initiated a comprehensive review of the System (The Third System Review) under the chairmanship of Mr. Maurice Strong, in 1997. Following discussion of the System Review Report at International Centres Week (ICW98), recommendations were further developed and considered at the Mid-Term Meeting of the CGIAR, held in Beijing on 28 May 1999. At this meeting, the Group endorsed a proposal that the current system of regional representation at the CGIAR should be phased out in consultation with FAO. The Group also requested that FAO, as Cosponsor, would consult with its Governing Bodies on the implementation of this decision.

7. This decision is predicated on the fact that developing countries at present account for approximately fifty percent of CGIAR country membership and that 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.

It is therefore recommended that: