Hundred and Seventeenth Session
Rome, 9 - 11 November 1999
REPORT OF THE JOINT MEETING
OF THE EIGHTY-SECOND SESSION OF THE PROGRAMME COMMITTEE AND THE NINETY-THIRD SESSION OF
THE FINANCE COMMITTEE
MATTERS REQUIRING ATTENTION BY THE COUNCIL
Report of the Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees
Matters requiring discussion and/or decision
FAO Strategic Framework 2000-2015 9 - 19
Progamme of Work and Budget 2000-2001 20 - 29
Matters for information
Regional Dimensions to Budgeting and Implementation Reporting in FAO 30 - 31
Savings and Efficiencies in Governance:
- Possible Reform of the General Debate at Conference 32 - 33
Any Other Business
- Expression of Appreciation of Dr. Bommer
1. The Committees submit to the Council the following report of their Joint Meeting.
2. The following members were present at the meeting:
|Mr D.F.R. Bommer (Germany)||Mr J.A. Thomas (South Africa)|
|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)
|Mr R.O. Villambrosa (Argentina)
Ms N. Gangadharan (India)
Mr L.M. Fontana-Giusti (Italy)
Mr H. Maltez (Panama)
Mr L. Micek (Slovak Republic)
Ms E.F. Eltom (Sudan)
Ms L.J. Tracy (USA)
3. Mr. S. Baharsjah, the Independent Chairman of the Council, was present at the meeting.
4. Ms N. Gangadharan replaced Mr. K.P. Fabian as representative of the Government of India on the Finance Committee.
5. Mr. M. Barreto replaced Mr. P. Paredes Portella as representative of the Government of Peru on the Programme Committee.
6. Mr. M.T.A. Samba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and member of the Finance Committee was not present at the meeting.
7. Mr M.M. Seghayer of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and member of the Programme Committee was not present at the meeting.
8. The Agenda and Timetable for the Joint Meeting were approved.
9. The Committees addressed Version 4.0 of the Strategic Framework, and the supporting material in Supplement 1. They agreed that the Strategic Framework was an important document which would give direction and orientation to the Organization's work over the next 10-15 years. It would be the basis for the new programme planning process, to be further developed in the Medium Term Plan and the Programme of Work and Budget.
10. The Committees considered that this version had been very much improved through the incorporation of the comments and suggestions made by the Council during its review of Version 3.0. The improvements included the more concise format befitting documents of a policy nature; and the more focussed and coherent presentation of the proposed corporate strategies, objectives and associated strategy components. The Committees recognized that Version 4.0 fully reflected the benefits which had accrued from the extensive and participatory process used for its preparation, as had been envisaged by the Conference.
11. In this light, the Committees considered that Version 4.0 offered excellent prospects for adoption by the Conference, subject to resolution of two particular issues in the present text.
12. The Committees, therefore, agreed to draw the attention of the Council to the reference of "a rights-based approach to food security" (in para. 43) and to the phrase "considering the multifunctional character of agriculture" (in para. 76), on which consensus could not be reached.
13. With respect to para. 76, various options were considered during the Committees' discussion, including the removal of this phrase (supported by the majority of Members), its retention or its retention but with possible alternative wording.
14. With respect to para. 43, some Members supported the deletion of the phrase "rights-based approach to food security" while others favoured its retention.
15. The Committees recognized that rapidly changing circumstances in the present world might entail the need for revision of the document at appropriate times, and noted that this was, in fact, foreseen in its Part III "Implementation Programme" (para. 142).
16. Many Members underlined the importance of ensuring that sufficient resources be made available to FAO in order to support the implementation of the strategies set out in the Strategic Framework and that regional priorities be given due consideration.
17. Several Members also stressed the need for FAO to play a strong advocacy role, providing objective information and guidance to Members on emerging issues in FAO's mandated areas of food and agriculture, some of which had attracted considerable attention of the media and the general public in the recent past.
18. The Committees reaffirmed the need for a summary version of the Strategic Framework after its approval by the Conference, in order to facilitate the dissemination of its key messages to broader audiences.
19. In conclusion, while recognizing that further views could be expressed by members up to and during the next Council, the Committees looked forward to consensus adoption of the Strategic Framework by the Conference.
20. The Committees endorsed the more concise format of the document, made possible inter alia by the posting of more detailed information on the FAO's Website. They encouraged further progress in this direction.
21. The Committees recognized the transitional character of this PWB document. They observed that the application of the new programming framework, to all activities under Chapter 2, Technical and Economic Programmes, and Major Programme 3.1, Policy Assistance had enhanced clarity and focus in the presentation of programmes. However, the Committees encouraged further improvements in the design of programme entities, particularly with a view to increasing the proportion of time-bound technical projects.
22. The Committees recalled that the impact of the new programming approach would be more fully apparent with the development of the Medium Term Plan, which would also establish appropriate links to the Strategic Framework to be approved by the Conference.
23. The Committees agreed that the three scenarios covered in the document had been satisfactorily developed, following the Hundred and Sixteenth Session of the Council discussion of the Summary. They observed that due account had been taken of recent developments affecting cost increases for the next biennium and the impact of more current Italian Lira/US$ exchange rates, as recommended by the Committees themselves and the Council, i.e. the rate of Lira 1,800 to US$ 1, leading to a cost increase estimate of US$ 14.9 million.
24. The Committees emphasized in this connection the uncertainty regarding this cost increase estimate, as it could be further affected by movements in the exchange rate, as experienced recently, thereby redefining the impact of ZNG at the time of the Conference approval of the budget.
25. The Committees recognized that the proposals incorporated adjustments to organizational structures in the administrative and operational areas and took account of related anticipated savings. While noting the risks associated with these proposals, they agreed that such an approach was warranted in order to protect the technical programmes of the Organization to the maximum extent possible.
26. While generally endorsing the priorities reflected in the proposals, and noting the protection offered to the Fisheries and Forestry programmes, Members noted their disappointment that it had not been possible to fully accommodate the requests of the relevant Ministerial Meetings for additional resources to these two programmes. Other Members highlighted specific areas in which they had particular interest. These included: gender mainstreaming, work on fishery capacity management and subsidies in the fisheries sector in cooperation with WTO, illegal, unauthorized and unreported (I.U.U.) fishing, assistance for capacity building in developing countries, the conservation of water resources, full support to CODEX Alimentarius and the special requirements of Central and Eastern European countries and Small Island Developing States.
27. Many Members emphasized the gravity of the persistent problems of hunger and malnutrition experienced in various regions and the attendant moral imperative to improve conditions, which was crucially dependent on international solidarity. They stressed that FAO should be provided with sufficient resources to allow it to play its appropriate role within concerted multilateral action in this regard. They recalled the otherwise extensive requirements of the membership and the demands placed on the Organization, particularly in the wake of the World Food Summit. Consequently, they considered that the only fitting response and most appropriate signal at this juncture was the resumption of real growth for FAO. They, therefore, supported the RG scenario. Other Members expressed preference for ZRG.
28. Several Members supported the ZNG scenario, recalling that this was pursued by their governments as a general policy throughout the UN system. They also stressed the continuing climate of stringency surrounding public expenditures in many countries and their expectation that international organizations should also observe maximum budgetary restraint. Some Members also recalled the persistent problem of arrears.
29. The Committees recognized that there were continuing divergencies of opinion on the desirable budget level for the 2000-2001 biennium. They hoped that further dialogue would contribute to bridging the gap between different positions, prior to final consideration of the Programme of Work and Budget by the Conference.
30. The Committees welcomed this document - which was prepared essentially for information purposes - as it clarified the scope and basis for the regional breakdowns of budgetary estimates routinely provided as part of the Programme of Work and Budget documentation.
31. The Committees noted the statistical nature of the breakdown of Headquarters-based expenditure by region and recognized that accounting for such expenditure on a regional basis was not a practical proposition. They looked forward to further improvements in programme implementation reporting from the perspective of each region, as outlined in the document.
32. The Hundred and Sixteenth Council Session (June 1999) had requested the Joint Meeting to review again a possible reform of the General Debate at Conference, while recognizing that the results of such a review could not be implemented at the November 1999 Conference Session.
33. In view of this the Joint Meeting decided to postpone consideration of this item to one of its sessions in the year 2000 and to submit a report thereon to the November 2000 Council Session.
34. The Committees expressed their unanimous appreciation for the efforts of Dr. D.F.R. Bommer, the Chairman of the Programme Committee, and for his contribution to the Organization over the years. The Committees had benefited from both his considerable scientific knowledge in the fields of food and agriculture and from his political skills gathered through many years of experience in the international arena which had allowed him to guide and conclude debates in an effective and impartial manner. The Committees wished the Chairman the best in his future endeavours and expressed the hope that he would continue to associate himself with the Organization to contribute to its mission.
1 Doc.: JM 99/INF/3
2 Doc.: C 99/12; C 99-Sup.1
3 Doc.: C 99/3
4 Doc.: JM 99/4
5 Doc.: JM 99/5