3. Managing NGO/CSO cooperation in FAO

Organizational changes in FAO are facilitating cooperation with external partners at headquarters and in the field. The World Food Summit process, the NGO consultations held in connection with technical committee sessions, the review of FAO/NGO cooperation and the current strategic planning exercise have created momentum and brought many ideas to the fore. This section discusses the areas in which FAO will act to take advantage of this positive environment.

3.1 Revising formal status and meeting attendance

Procedures for granting formal status to NGOs will be reviewed, taking into account changes made elsewhere in the UN system. More flexible formal arrangements for cooperation will be explored. In connection with the ongoing examination of governance by the Programme and Finance Committees of the Council, procedures for NGO/CSO participation in FAO meetings will be reviewed to enhance the involvement of relevant organizations. On the basis of these reviews, a proposal will be submitted to the FAO Conference. A mechanism will be established in future to define jointly with NGOs/CSOs an overall code of relations governing FAO-NGO/CSO cooperation and identifying mutual responsibilities.

3.2 Integrating partnerships in FAO's programme planning

FAO's planning process will give attention to NGOs/CSOs, as has already been done in the preparation of the Strategic Framework for FAO. Technical units will be encouraged to use Regular Programme funds to further their collaboration with NGOs/CSOs both in developing approaches and methods and in national-level validation of experiences.

3.3 Promoting a "partnership culture" within FAO

This policy and strategy paper will provide impetus for a "partnership culture" within FAO. It will be backed up by:

3.4 Strengthening the capacity of decentralized offices to build relations with civil society

FAO will:

- including responsibility for NGO/CSO cooperation in the terms of reference;
- preparing guidelines on working with NGOs/CSOs at the country and regional/ subregional levels, based on the relevant proposals presented in Section 2. Decentralized offices will be asked to help survey and monitor NGOs/ CSOs and maintain national-level databases in collaboration with other UN agencies (software for a common UN database is being developed).

- designating a staff member in each regional and subregional office to act as an NGO-CSO focal point;
- recruiting more staff with NGO experience and seeking additional human resources from the APO and Young Professionals Programmes or NGO secondments;
- encouraging FAORs to use TeleFood project funds to build partnerships with CSOs;
- seeking resources for specific activities from local offices of NGOs and bilateral and multilateral agencies.

3.5 Strengthening Headquarters' capacity and Organization-wide networking

Consultations carried out in the framework of this review have produced a substantial list of services expected from TCDN, as FAO's focal point for NGO cooperation. These functions could not be performed if they depended only on TCDN. FAO can only respond adequately to the opportunities for greater collaboration with NGOs by vesting responsibility throughout the Organization, promoting in-house partnerships and harnessing existing resources and opportunities.

The NGO working group created for the review will be formalized and extended to the divisional level in the larger technical departments and to selected decentralized offices. It will serve as FAO's reference and outreach group in carrying out the following functions:

- formulating policy and operational guidelines on cooperation with civil society;
- following evolutions in civil society cooperation and exchanging information on best practices with other UN agencies.
- promoting networking and the exchange of information among FAO units at headquarters and the field;
- developing information/documentation exchange and dialogue with CSOs;
- establishing, at the headquarters level, a database on CSOs with which FAO is cooperating, incorporating information provided by technical departments - this will complement the data maintained at the country level on national NGOs;
- monitoring the implementation of FAO's NGO/CSO strategy.

- promoting innovative cooperation activities and the assessment and diffusion of these experiences;
- facilitating technical units' and field offices' efforts to strengthen their collaboration with civil society.