VI. Activities and programmes of the organization
A. Programme implementation and programme
evaluation reports 1994-95
B. Medium-term plan 1996-2001
C. Programme of work and budget 1996-97
A. Programme implementation and programme evaluation reports 1994-95
99. The Conference endorsed the two Reports and emphasized that they made an informative and useful contribution to the programme management process of the Organization. It highlighted the importance of monitoring and evaluation as management tools for improving the planning and implementation processes and for ensuring accountability and transparency.
100. The Conference endorsed the specific recommendations that the Programme Committee had made for improving the Programme Implementation and Programme Evaluation Reports. It urged that further improvements be made to render both Reports more analytical, including a clearer link with the Programme of Work and Budget (PWB). It noted that this entailed the provision of sufficiently detailed information, including comprehensive and timely expenditures data, to allow a clear analysis and balanced assessment of cost-efficiency and effectiveness, results and impact, as well as sustainability of programme results.
101. The Conference also endorsed the recommendations of the Programme and Finance Committees regarding the Programme Implementation Report, i.e., that this Report should be based upon actual data for the entire biennium. The Report should be submitted to the Programme and Finance Committees and Council at their sessions in the latter half of the year following the related biennium.
102. The Conference noted its appreciation of the achievements made in 1994-95. Concern was expressed at the decline in training and the cancellation or postponement of some other activities. The Conference was informed that this was the result of the shortfall in the receipt of contributions.
103. In examining the two Reports, particular reference was made to a number of areas as follows:
· an improvement in the level of participation of women in training was sought;
· a systematic feedback process was considered essential for effective evaluation;
· decentralization should be implemented in a planned and timely fashion, with attention to avoiding duplication and ensuring complementary functioning of the field offices at country, sub-regional and regional levels, with delegation of authority;
· the success of the special programmes "Food Production in Support of Food Security" (SPFP/LIFDCs) and "Emergency Prevention System" (EMPRES) required strong policy resources commitment of the participating Member Nations and systematic monitoring and evaluation, as well as a focus on FAO's support in national capacity-building in these countries;
· the implementation of the new partnership arrangements should proceed in a timely manner; and
· the recovery of the cost of support by the Regular Programme to Field Programme activities should be implemented, although there was diversity of opinion regarding the rate at which such recovery could be achieved.
B. Medium-term plan 1996-2001
104. The Conference endorsed the Medium-term Plan 1996-2001, and welcomed its conciseness, and to that end recommended that future editions avoid unnecessary duplication. It considered that the document would provide a useful strategic framework which would facilitate dialogue on general orientations for the Organization and would provide a basis for the formulation of future FAO action.
105. The Conference agreed to continue the practice of a six-year rolling plan, to be updated every two years. The Conference also agreed resource projections should not be included in the Plan, except perhaps in terms of relative desirable changes in allocations. It noted that consideration should be given to preparing a long-term plan after the World Food Summit in November 1996.
106. The Conference reaffirmed the pertinence of the basic roles of FAO, including that of collection, analysis and dissemination of information, forum for governments to achieve common goals, and source of advice and assistance to countries in addressing national problems. It stressed the expectations of the membership for an appropriate balance between normative and operational activities to be maintained in order to achieve optimal synergy. The assessment of regional needs for direct services to Member Nations was appreciated and deserved regular updating in future versions of the Plan.
107. The Conference endorsed the suggestions for improved and more cost-effective governance arrangements and for further reduction in total cost of publications.
108. In examining the Medium-term Plan, particular reference was made to:
· the multidisciplinary dimensions of food security and the importance of a balanced approach to address the complex of components and players involved in this issue, including attention to value-added activities and enhanced income generation opportunities in rural areas;
· the increased attention being given to the Special Programme on Food Production in Support of Food Security in Low-Income, Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) and the essential role of the other Special Programme approved by the Council, EMPRES;
· the importance of sound water management and the needs of small farming communities in this regard;
· support for research capacity and development of human resources in developing countries;
· the need to focus attention on marginal areas and the needs of countries affected by desertification;
· support for the work of Codex Alimentarius and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) in applying science-based standards to trade-related activities;
· provision of enhanced assistance to Member Nations in adjusting to the post-Uruguay Round regime;
· the role of FAO as a key promoter of sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD), including its active role in the framework of UNCED follow-up;
· the adoption and widespread implementation of the Code of Conduct on Responsible Fisheries and the Organization's continued lead role in forest resources assessment, management and conservation which would constitute two major contributions to food security and SARD;
· FAO's work in relation to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, covering plant, animal and aquatic genetic resources, in close collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity; and
· the usefulness of the information on partnership arrangements on which the continued search for complementarily of action with other organizations and institutions, as well as broader contacts with the private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), was encouraged.
C. Programme of work and budget 1996-97
109. The Conference recalled that the Programme of Work and Budget (PWB) proposals had been the result of an extensive consultation process initiated by consideration of the Outline Programme of Work and Budget by a Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees at the end of January, and progressively refined since then through the Summary and full PWB stages. It noted the improvements in the format and encouraged further steps in this direction.
110. The Conference recognized that the Director-General had sought from the outset a zero real growth framework for his proposals for 1996-97. Accordingly, the Director-General had prepared the PWB 1996-97 on a zero real growth basis and was proposing the additional absorption of cost increases since the stage of the Summary Programme of Work and Budget.
111. The Conference noted that the PWB 1996-97, as proposed, entailed a 3.7 percent increase over the 1994-95 level of US$673 114 000. However, it recognized that this resulted in a 10.64 percent increase in assessments for 1996-97 which was due essentially to two factors: the anticipated cost increases, and the return to the normal practice for financing the budget, i.e. by assessed contributions and estimated Miscellaneous Income. In the light of the negative experience with the practice of relying upon US$38 million of arrears during the current biennium, the Conference fully endorsed this aspect of the proposals.
112. The Conference appreciated the fact that it had proved possible to reduce considerably the provision for cost increases since preliminary estimates made earlier in the year. It was informed, however, that additional cost increases to those already contained in the PWB proposal may be forthcoming. It welcomed the Director-General's intention to absorb these additional cost increases, presently estimated at US$19.5 million, to the maximum extent possible.
113. The Conference also welcomed the substantial savings from the restructuring decisions adopted by the Council at its Hundred and Sixth Session (Rome, 30 May - 1 June 1994) and other streamlining measures introduced by the Director-General to increase efficiency. The Conference recognized that these efforts must be continued. It commended all efforts by the Director-General which would contribute towards more cost-effective delivery of programmes. The Conference noted that the resulting savings had been directed to meeting new initiatives and high-priority activities of FAO.
114. The Conference recalled the difficult financial context confronting the Organization. It regretted that the receipt of arrears payments had not matched what had been expected in the compromise formula adopted for the PWB 1994-95. The Conference realized that this had resulted in the need to reduce expenditures and prevented full implementation of the approved budget of US$673.1 million. In this connection, the Conference commended the timely action of the Director-General to limit such expenditures.
115. The Conference underlined the multilateral character of FAO, required all Members to meet their financial obligations to the Organization in full and unconditionally and, in particular, to eliminate all arrears. It stressed the necessity for outstanding arrears to be reduced over the forthcoming biennium. The Conference recalled that timely payment of assessments by Member Nations was a key prerequisite to the orderly implementation of the Organization's programme. It encouraged Members to make their payments when due, which in the past had contributed to a substantial increase in Miscellaneous Income.
116. The Conference noted that it had not proved feasible for the Director-General to include a number of important activities within the proposed budget, and that he had submitted a draft supplementary Appropriations Resolution for its consideration. The Conference recognized the difficulties of achieving consensus on the three items as presently proposed in the Resolution. Some members did not support the concept and stressed the need to have arrears payments flowing into the General Fund of the Organization in order to reduce deficits. Accordingly, the Conference agreed not to act on this draft Resolution.
117. The Conference expressed its broad endorsement of the proposed priorities. It considered that these were in line with the challenges facing the Organization, which had been well illustrated during the ministerial meetings convened in 1995, culminating in the celebration of FAO's Fiftieth Anniversary in Quebec City. The Conference also considered that they took account of the substantive refocusing decisions of the Council, including further development of the two special programmes on Food Production in Support of Food Security in Low-income, Food-deficit Countries (LIFDCs) and EMPRES.
118. During the discussion, delegates referred to specific priorities to which they attached importance. Delegates also expressed regret at reductions affecting several activities, including those on post-harvest food losses, while they were reassured that continued attention would be given to this important facet of food security. Delegates also stressed the importance of the work on genetic resources, including the Plan of Action and the forthcoming Technical Conference on Plant Genetic Resources (Leipzig, Germany, 1723 June 1996).
119. Bearing in mind its endorsement of selected priorities during its previous consideration of the Medium-term Plan, the Conference reiterated inter alia the importance of trade-related activities. It singled out again the role of Codex Alimentarius and the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), and the close cooperation with the World Trade Organization (WTO). It fully endorsed the assistance to Member Nations in assessing the implications of the Uruguay Round and in assisting Members in implementing the Agreements.
120. While regretting the reduction in resources for fisheries activities, the Conference noted that this was attributable to the cancellation of General Service posts. It welcomed plans to support actively the implementation of the Code of Conduct on Responsible Fisheries.
121. The Conference welcomed the increase in resources for forestry activities and underscored the importance of further work on forest resources assessment, support to national forest action plans, and community forestry. The expected contribution of the Major Programme: Forestry to UNCED follow-up, including support to the Commission of Sustainable Development and its Intergovernmental Panel on Forests, was underlined.
122. The Conference took note of the steps envisaged to replace progressively the major administrative systems of the Organization, FINSYS/PERSYS, with more effective solutions and observed that this would well serve the more general objectives of streamlining, cost-effectiveness and transparency.
123. The Conference recognized that there were diverging views among Member Nations on the budget level, as had occurred at previous stages of intergovernmental consultations, and directed its work towards bridging the gap among these views. It agreed that it was necessary to preserve the substance of FAO's work and enhance the effectiveness of FAO's programmes. the Conference stressed that the approach to dealing with eventually reduced resources should be directed to maximizing efficiencies and reductions in the non-technical programmes before considering reducing selectively technical and economic programmes as a last resort.
124. The Conference, therefore, addressed the scope for cost savings which would not be detrimental to the implementation of approved programmes. It recalled the suggestions of the Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees and the Council in order to further improve efficiency and effectiveness and reduce Regular Programme expenditures without adversely affecting the technical and economic programmes. These included: expenditures for travel under both the Regular and Field Programmes; the Regular programme support of the Field Programmer exploration of opportunities for cooperation or consolidation of field offices with other international organizations whenever appropriate and savings can be achieved; further efficiency and effectiveness gains, from reviews of the GI and AF Departments, especially with respect to the processing and distribution of publications and documents, staff regradings and streamlining of administrative procedures. It recalled the recommendations of the Hundred and Ninth Session of the Council (Rome, 18-21 October 1995) requesting a management review, taking fully into account the measures already taken by the Director-General.
125. The Conference stressed the potential for improved and more cost-effective governance arrangements, and it endorsed the recommendation of the Hundred and Ninth Session of the Council in this respect. This work would build on the measures already taken by the Director-General to reduce the volume of documentation and shorten meetings. It also noted the high cost of coordination activities with other organizations, and invited the Secretariat to exercise utmost selectivity by focusing efforts and resources on those of effective value and truly compatible with the mandate of FAO.
126. The Conference was informed that care was required in expectations of savings which could be achieved without damage to the programme. It was, however, reassured of the determination of the Secretariat to pursue every opportunity in this direction. It recognized that the realization of effective savings would, in any event, require a gradual approach.
127. The Conference expressed its concern regarding the possibility of a shortfall in contributions for 1996-97. The Conference urgently called upon all Member Nations to make every effort to pay their contributions on time. It also requested the Director-General to pursue his commitment to protect the financial viability of the Organization, which he so agreed to do.
128. Accordingly, the Conference adopted the following Resolution:
Budgetary appropriations 1996-97
Having considered the Director-General's Programme of Work and Budget and the conclusions of its Commissions:
1. Approves a total effective working budget of US$650 million for the financial period 1996-97 and subject to paragraph 3 approves the Programme of Work proposed by the Director-General for 1996-97 as follows:
|Chapter 1 - General Policy and Direction||54 476 000|
|Chapter 2 - Technical and Economic Programmes||327 970 000|
|Chapter 3 - Development Services to Member Nations||118 301 000|
|Chapter 4 - Technical Cooperation Programme||87 704 000|
|Chapter 5 - Support Services||72 668 000|
|Chapter 6 - Common Services||45 205 000|
|Chapter 7 - Contingencies||600 000|
|Less: Budget reduction||(56 924 000)|
|Total effective working budget||650 000 000|
|Chapter 8 - Transfer to Tax Equalization Fund||90 800 000|
|Total appropriations (gross)||740 800 000|
b) The appropriations (gross) voted in paragraph a) above, shall be financed by assessments on Member Nations, after deduction of Miscellaneous Income in the amount of US$11 000 000, thus resulting in assessments against Member Nations of US$729 800 000.
c) In establishing the actual amounts of contributions to be paid by individual Member Nations, the assessment of each Member Nation shall be reduced by any amount standing to its credit in the Tax Equalization Fund provided that the credit of a Member Nation that levies taxes on the salaries, emoluments and indemnities received from FAO by staff members shall be reduced by the estimated amounts of such taxes to be reimbursed to the staff member by FAO
d) The contributions due from Member Nations in 1996 and 1997 shall be paid in accordance with the scale adopted by the Conference at its Twenty-eighth Session, which contributions, after the deduction of amounts standing to the credit of Member Nations in the Tax Equalization Fund, result in net amounts payable totalling US$641 200 000 as set out in Appendix J to this Report.
2. Endorses the Director-General's commitment to sound financial practices and his commitment not to incur obligations and make payments against the above budget for the financial period 1996-97 beyond the total of reasonably anticipated income, as established in accordance with the Financial Regulations.
3. Requests the Director-General to propose to the Hundred and Tenth Session of the Council criteria for adjusting the Programme of Work to the approved budget level and to present the necessary adjustments to the next Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees for their approval.
(Adopted 27 October 1995)