Hundred and Seventeenth Session
Rome, 9 - 11 November 1999
REPORT OF THE EIGHTY-SECOND
SESSION OF THE PROGRAMME COMMITTEE
Programme of Work and Budget 2000-2001 8 - 42
- Evaluation in the Context of the Strategic Framework
Matters for information
Corporate Progress Report on Gender Mainstreaming 43 - 47
- Programme Evaluation Report (PER) 2001 - Subjects to be 53 - 55
UN Joint Inspection Unit Reports 56 - 58
Progress Report on the Follow-up to Past Committtee Recommendations 59 - 60
Review of the Working Methods of the Programme Committee 61
Possible Items for Discussion at the Next Session 62 - 63
Any Other Business
- Expression of Appreciation of Dr. Bommer
Rome, 13-17 September 1999
1. The Committee submits to the Council the following report of its Eighty-second Session.
2. The following Members were present:
|Chairman:||Mr. D.F.R. Bommer (Germany)|
|Members:||Mr P.N. Ross (Australia)
Mr R. Rose (Canada)
Mr G. Redai (Ethiopia)
Mr M. Ito (Japan)
Mr G. Mansour (Lebanon)
Mr M. Barreto (Peru)
Ms M.R. Castillo (Philippines)
Mr V. Moe (Trinidad and Tobago)
Ms S. Nyamudeza (Zimbabwe)
3. Mr. S. Baharsjah, the Independent Chairman of the Council, was present at the meeting.
4. Mr. M. Barreto replaced Mr. P. Paredes Portella as representative of the Government of Peru on the Programme Committee.
5. Mr. M.M. Seghayer of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya was not present at the meeting.
6. The Agenda and Timetable for the meeting were approved.
7. The Committee expressed its appreciation for the timely circulation of all documentation to Members.
8. The Committee, noting the transitional character of the format welcomed the document's conciseness which had been achieved in particular by making available more detailed information on the Organization's Internet Website. The Committee looked forward to continuation of this practice in the future.
9. The Committee was satisfied with the clear exposition of the three scenarios covered in the Programme of Work and Budget, i.e.: real growth (RG), zero real growth (ZRG) and zero nominal growth (ZNG).
10. The Committee recognized that organizational restructuring measures in administrative and operational areas formed part of the proposals. It noted that those affecting Management Support Units (MSUs) at Headquarters - and most of the resulting savings - were reflected under all scenarios, whereas a further set of rationalization proposals affecting out-of-Rome Regional Offices was included under ZNG.
11. The Committee took note of the risks of early implementation of these measures without sufficient experience in the implementation of management information systems to support them. However, it endorsed the intent of protecting to the maximum extent possible the substantive work of FAO, by capitalizing on potential efficiency savings.
12. The Committee welcomed that due attention had been paid to meeting concerns among the membership about language balance in FAO, including through a special budgetary provision to support concrete actions in the next biennium.
13. While appreciative of these positive features of the proposals, Members expressed concern at reductions affecting programmes to which they attached importance, or regret at the absence of significant increases for programmes they deemed of highest priority.
14. The Committee received clarification on the method of under-funding of a number of professional posts built into the ZNG scenario. It noted that this course of action had been judged preferable to proposing their straight abolition, in the expectation that they could be fully funded in the next Programme of Work and Budget. The Committee also recognized the element of uncertainty brought by fluctuations of the US Dollar-Italian Lira exchange rate. It noted that the exact amount of budget reductions, which would be required to achieve an eventual ZNG budget, could only be known at the time of the Conference. Also bearing in mind the desirability of affording due flexibility to FAO senior staff to ensure implementation of substantive programmes to the maximum extent possible, the Committee appreciated that only tentative information on the impact of ZNG could be given at this stage.
15. The Committee was informed that, in addition to the indicated "protected" areas under the ZNG scenario, a number of budget provisions were also unaffected, since they involved contractual obligations with external parties. These included: the provision for External Audit; joint programmes with the IAEA, the World Bank and other International Financial Institutions, and other UN partners; and externally funded activities such as those of the Special Relief Operations Service. There were also cases of relatively fixed costs where reductions could not be contemplated, e.g. the already compressed provision for Conference and Council, and the provision for the Oracle project.
16. The Committee welcomed the improved presentation of proposed activities which stemmed from the general application of the new programming framework to Chapter 2: Technical and Economic Programmes and Major Programme 3.1: Policy Assistance, expanding on the pilot experiment in the current Programme of Work and Budget. It observed, however, that there was a need for a clearer distinction between technical projects and continuing programme activities. The Committee invited further improvements in the application of the new approach.
17. In this connection, the Committee recognized that the full benefits from the new approach would only be realized in the next biennium, when a new Medium Term Plan based on the Strategic Framework for FAO 2000-2015 would be presented. At that point it would also be possible to establish clear relationships with the corporate objectives of the Framework to be eventually approved by the Conference.
Chapter 1: General Policy and Direction
18. The Committee noted the limited net changes in resources proposed under this chapter under ZRG, which related principally to further savings under Major Programme 1.1: Governing Bodies, and the need to develop an Oracle-based version of certain modules of PLANSYS.
Chapter 2: Technical and Economic Programmes
Major Programme 2.1: Agricultural Production and Support Systems
19. The Committee recalled its general endorsement, at its previous session, of the medium-term objectives and priorities of this major programme. It urged that the planned technical projects be better focused on the achievement of time-bound objectives, clearly linked to the above medium-term objectives. The Committee was reassured that effectiveness criteria had been developed for all major outputs, while constraints of space had limited the amount of information provided in the document.
20. The Committee expressed concern that Major Programme 2.1 did not seem to address in a sufficiently proactive manner emerging issues on biotechnology in agriculture. It emphasized that the lack of objective information on these issues had led to ill-informed public debate on genetically modified organisms, while countries looked to FAO to provide objective information and guidance. The Committee was informed that FAO had established an internal Committee on Ethics in Food and Agriculture, as well as internal working groups on biotechnology, biodiversity and biosafety, including both human and animal food safety, to address more fully these issues at all levels. The Committee urged FAO to take an active role as a source of impartial information to facilitate national policy formulation on biotechnology, stressing that timely and concerted action would also strengthen FAO's role as a centre of excellence.
21. The Committee recalled FAO's lead role in preparing the report on the State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources, including the issuance of guidelines for country contributions. It expressed concern that preparatory work for the guidelines was lagging, as sufficient extra-budgetary support had not been forthcoming, and urged that sufficient priority be given to this activity, including a reallocation of Regular Programme resources to better support this work. The Committee noted that implementation of the Global Plan of Action on PGRFA was being addressed through project components on broadening the genetic base of crops, strengthening of global networks and provision of policy support.
22. The Committee received clarification on the outcome of the external review of EMPRES (animal diseases component), which had confirmed its important normative and operational thrusts. It also noted the vigorous efforts under Programme 2.1.4 dealing with important agricultural support services, in order to leverage joint action with partners and extra-budgetary funding.
23. In considering the programme linkages both within the Organization and with outside partners, the Committee cited as examples the strong working relationship between Programme 2.1.5 and other areas under Major Programmes 2.1 and 2.2, which also built on the long-standing partnership with IAEA. While stressing the importance of due consultations with the membership before significant new programme commitments are undertaken by the Secretariat, the Committee welcomed the useful work done by the IPTRID Secretariat, now located in FAO.
Major Programme 2.2: Food and Agriculture Policy and Development
24. The Committee reiterated the central importance of Major Programme 2.2 in the work of the Organization and expressed broad agreement with the proposed allocation of resources under both ZRG and ZNG scenarios.
25. Within Programme 2.2.1, Nutrition, the Committee noted that no major changes were envisaged for this high-priority programme. However, some disappointment was expressed that more of the programme had not been developed under the time-bound objective applied to technical projects. The Committee welcomed the protection given to entity 221A1, Codex, under ZNG although it expressed concern that similar full protection was not afforded to the work of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives, which provided inputs to the Codex mechanism and is included under 221P5, Food Quality Control and Consumer Protection. Similar protection might have also been afforded to the Joint Meeting on Pesticides Residues.
26. With regard to Programme 2.2.2, Food and Agricultural Information, the Committee underlined the continuing importance of improving the quality of agricultural information and support to developing countries for this purpose. It appreciated the additional resources devoted to project 222A1, FIVIMS, in line with the priority given to this work by the World Food Summit (WFS), but also underlined the need for a sharpened focus and early results. The Committee noted that due attention had been given to work on the disaggregation of statistics by gender.
27. The Committee supported the new presentation of Programmes 2.2.3, Food and Agricultural Monitoring, Assessments and Outlooks, and 2.2.4, Agriculture, Food Security and Trade Policy, and agreed that the new titles and substantive content of the two programmes reflected greater coherence within Major Programme 2.2. The priority given to agricultural commodity trade, particularly with respect to requirements for assistance in developing countries, was considered appropriate and would need to evolve along with emerging issues in international trade. The importance of monitoring and follow-up to the WFS, as a time-bound entity through to the mid-term review in the year 2006, was underlined.
Major Programme 2.3: Fisheries
28. The Committee recognized that the proposed priorities were consistent with the indicated medium-term objectives and agreed that the programme entity structure effectively reflected those priorities. In addressing a number of specific activities, it concluded that the form and content of the new presentation were acceptable.
29. The Committee recalled the importance attached by the Committee on Fisheries and by the ministerial meeting to an increase in the share of the overall FAO budget to fishery activities, and the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. It emphasized that priorities identified by COFI and the ministerial meeting should be reflected, wherever possible, in the work under the major programme.
30. The Committee also emphasized the importance of work aimed at ensuring implementation of and compliance with the Code of Conduct, also relevant to follow-up to the WFS. It supported work on the Small Island Developing States programme. The Committee noted the cost savings expected from the centralization of functions of the Management Support Unit for the Fisheries and Forestry Departments, as for other MSUs, while taking account of the special circumstances of this joint MSU.
Major Programme 2.4: Forestry
31. The Committee endorsed the goals and priorities of this Major Programme and appreciated the balance of the Forestry programmes, and the good application of the new programming framework. The Committee also endorsed the establishment of a new Programme 2.4.4, Forest Programmes Coordination and Information, to provide a focal point for information and coordination of activities which cut across forestry disciplines.
32. The Committee observed that FAO's lead role in the "International Year of the Mountain" could have been shown as a separate, time-bound activity, thus facilitating reporting of achievements.
33. The Committee noted the inter-relationships between activities related to forest genetic resources, which were an important component of work on forest management, forest plantations and planted tree resources, and biological diversity conservation and sustainable wildlife utilization. The Committee also noted on-going cooperation as relates to wildlife with UNESCO, UNDP, and the secretariats of the CITES and Ramsar conventions, and the linkages between forest management, wildlife resources and protected area management, including approaches to minimize the negative interaction between wildlife and crops.
34. The Committee observed that the outputs proposed for entity 243P2, Economic Analysis of the Forestry Sector, appeared to be very ambitious. It was informed that this was mainly a problem of presentation, as some of the studies were expected to continue beyond the biennium.
Major Programme 2.5: Contributions to Sustainable Development and Special Programme Thrusts
35. The Committee welcomed the proposed technical project on Building Partnerships for Improving Application of Biotechnology in Agriculture (251A3), while pointing out the need for a fully interdisciplinary approach. It encouraged the Organization to take a proactive role in this area, particularly to build developing countries' capacity in risk assessment and in monitoring impacts. The Committee supported the entity on Integrated Development and Dissemination of Agricultural Knowledge and Technology (251A4) since extension and research were crucial to attaining food security in developing countries. It emphasized the need for a participatory approach and to learn from the experience of IPM programmes, particularly on the role of farmers' field schools and non-formal education methods in increasing farmers' knowledge.
36. The Committee endorsed the new programme entities under Programme 2.5.2 and sought clarification on the programme's role in promoting gender mainstreaming in the light of the information provided in Corporate Progress Report on Gender Mainstreaming. It encouraged the development of performance targets for gender mainstreaming in all programmes of FAO.
37. The Committee generally supported the programme entities under Programme 2.5.3 and their contribution to rural development and poverty alleviation. It encouraged further inter-agency coordination and alliances with key agencies such as IFAD, World Bank and UNDP. While supporting the work on Land Tenure Institution Building (253A1), the Committee cautioned against the negative impact on rural women of the creation of land markets. In connection with the ACC Network on Rural Development and Food Security (253P1), the Committee was informed of the status of the establishment of thematic groups at the national level.
38. The Committee drew attention to the need to ensure an adequate degree of synchronization in addressing key constraints between Phases I and II of the SPFS (Programme 2.5.6).
Chapter 3: Cooperation and Partnerships
39. The Committee welcomed the new title of Cooperation and Partnerships for this chapter, aimed at better reflecting its central role in catalysing collaboration between FAO and such essential partners as international financing institutions, funding sources for technical cooperation and emergency assistance, NGOs and the private sector.
40. The Committee noted the reductions affecting several important areas of work, reflecting realistic expectations for external income, on which this chapter was especially dependent.
41. The Committee recognized the many contributions made by the FAO Representatives to the provision of consistent advice to countries and the effective implementation of FAO programmes, as well as the usefulness of the country focus work of TCA, in support of an efficient process of decentralization. Some members felt, however, that the extent of the resources dedicated to this programme should be reviewed with a view to freeing more of them to support substantive programmes in Chapter 2.
Chapter 4: Technical Cooperation Programme
42. The Committee endorsed the protection afforded to this high-priority programme under ZNG and received updated information on its implementation.
43. The Committee appreciated the submission of this progress report in response to concerns expressed, when considering past Programme Implementation Reports (PIRs) and Programme Evaluation Reports (PERs), about the implementation of the Plan of Action on Women-in-Development adopted by the FAO Conference. It noted that progress had been uneven among the various divisions, which called for further vigorous action throughout the Organization to meet expectations of Governing Bodies as regards this cross-sectoral priority. It welcomed in this connection the inclusion of a number of recommendations to bring about desirable improvements.
44. In endorsing the conclusions and recommendations, as listed in Table 2 of the report, the Committee suggested that the recommendations should be expanded in order that future PIRs and PERs should provide adequate coverage of gender mainstreaming under each programme reviewed. In addition, gender mainstreaming should be firmly entrenched in programme planning of all units in the Organization. The Committee stressed that implementation monitoring responsibilities should not be confined to SDW, but shared with all programme managers.
45. The Committee stressed the usefulness of a simple but effective coding and monitoring system to be developed and put into place for gender mainstreaming. It highlighted however that, while they may be related, the issues of gender mainstreaming and female staffing patterns needed to be kept separate. The Committee stressed the need for concerted efforts to increase the share of female professional staff.
46. The Committee observed with some concern that the progress reported could not be clearly related to the planned actions in the WID Programme of Action (1996-2001) comprising individual plans of the 24 Technical Divisions. The Committee also noted that most of the progress reported seemed to have occurred through the use of extra-budgetary resources, while the achievement of gender mainstreaming was equally essential in the whole range of activities under FAO Regular Programme.
47. The Committee pointed out the need to improve the existing mechanisms to incorporate gender mainstreaming into FAO's work. It stressed that the adoption of verifiable indicators was indispensable to demonstrate effective progress. The Committee stressed that one of the basic constraints for rural women was the lack of literacy and asked that FAO, in cooperation with relevant Organizations, do more to promote literacy for rural women. The Committee also recognized that communications at all levels were crucial to enhancing the status and equality of rural men and women; that is, within the Organization, at country level and in the media. In this regard, the Committee noted the Organization's initiative to hold a High Level Consultation on Rural Women and Information in October 1999.
48. The Committee recalled that the document had been prepared by the Secretariat in response to its own request for proposals on this subject. At the outset, the Committee underlined once again the importance of evaluation as an integral part of a results-oriented management system, especially for improving the relevance and effectiveness of the FAO programmes and operations, as well as for drawing lessons and supporting accountability. As such, evaluation must be integrated into the new planning and programming system so as to provide feedback to management decisions in programme planning and execution.
49. The Committee considered the document concise and analytical, providing generally sound proposals for a revised regime of evaluation. The Committee agreed that evaluation should be based on clear programme and project design with realistic objectives and targets, and with indicators for assessing achievement over time. The new planning and programming system being introduced would provide an improved basis for more strategically-oriented and result-focused evaluation. It also supported the reintroduction of an auto-evaluation system as a built-in element of programme management throughout FAO for more systematic programme monitoring and self-review by the programme managers.
50. At the same time, the Committee noted various constraints and issues as summarized in paragraph 13 that needed to be addressed for successful functioning of the proposed regime. It highlighted the importance of: (1) satisfactory implementation of the Strategic Framework 2000-2015 and the new programme model; (2) impact assessment wherever feasible; and (3) the availability of adequate resources for evaluation. In particular, it stressed that impact evaluation needed further strengthening as part of FAO's evaluation regime. In terms of resources, cost of programme evaluation should be built into the Regular Programme budget at the project design stage, thus avoiding negative impact on the programme. Further, it also highlighted the importance of evaluating programmes at various stages, not just at the end of the project.
51. The Committee provided the following observations on the salient aspects of the
52. The Committee endorsed the proposals for evaluation of small projects as outlined in Annex 1 of the document, including a form of direct charge to the Trust Fund projects for such evaluations. In conclusion, it expressed satisfaction that the proposals on the new evaluation regime and related reporting to the Governing Bodies constituted a good basis for implementation. In view of important outstanding issues, it looked forward to further dialogue and consultation on the subject during the transition phase.
53. The Committee recognized that the next issue of PER would be transitional, pending the full implementation of the proposals, as discussed above.
54. The Committee expressed the following preferences on the Director-General's
55. The Committee indicated its interest in the evaluation of the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS), as soon as possible. It was informed that the Secretariat proposed to initiate such an evaluation following the cropping seasons in 2001. Additional suggestions included: the FAO decentralization process and FAO's support to grassland-based livestock development.
56. The Committee took note of this report.
57. The Committee took note of the report and of the Director-General's comments thereon.
58. The Committee recalled that a UNOPS unit - dealing essentially with services to IFAD - was now hosted at FAO Headquarters. Coupled with the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding with UNOPS, the Committee hoped that this physical presence would contribute to more fruitful cooperation with this UN office, including the enhanced recognition and use of respective capacities, thereby dispelling earlier negative perceptions of duplication of UN/OPS with the work of Specialized Agencies. The Programme Committee recommended that these Reports be forwarded to Council.
59. The Committee considered this document to be very useful in following up their recommendations and requested that the Secretariat continue to prepare the progress report for consideration by the Committee.
60. The Committee drew attention to its request to receive an annual report at the May meeting on new obligations undertaken by the Organization which could impact upon or add to existing programmes.
61. The Committee agreed that no action was necessary on this item at present.
62. The Committee agreed that at its next session it would consider the programme evaluation of Programme 2.2.4, Food and Agriculture Policy, one of the two proposed subjects on the Field Programme and, as information, the thematic evaluation of the Associate Professional Officer Scheme.
63. The Committee noted that the Basic Texts obliged it to undertake a review of programmes in the first year of a biennium and was informed that the next programmes in the cycle would be those in Chapter 3.
64. The Committee expressed its deep appreciation for the wisdom and skill with which Dr. D.F.R. Bommer had conducted the proceedings of the Committee in his eight years as its Chairman.
65. The Committee noted that the Eighty-third Session of the Programme Committee would be held in Rome from Monday 8 May to Friday 12 May 2000.
1 Doc.: PC 82/1-Rev.1; PC 82/INF/1
2 Doc. C 99/3
3 Doc.: PC 82/7
4 Doc.: PC 82/4
5 Doc.: PC 82/5
6 Doc.: CL 117/INF/11
7 Doc.: CL 117/INF/12
8 Doc.: PC 82/6