FAO Conference begins: Election of Director-General and 2000-2001 budget on the agenda
The election of a Director-General of FAO and the Organization's budget for the next biennium are at the top of the agenda of this session, the thirtieth, of the Conference.
On 12 November, the opening day, former United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali delivered the McDougall Lecture. It was instituted in 1958 to commemorate the late Frank L. McDougall of Australia, one of the founders of FAO.
The election of a Director-General to lead the Organization for six years beginning 1 January 2000 will take place on 13 November. Two candidates have been nominated by their countries: the incumbent Jacques Diouf from Senegal and Juan Carlos Vignaud, currently Argentine Ambassador to Sweden.
The Conference will also approve a two-year Programme of Work and Budget for FAO, the UN's largest specialized agency. The Director-General has submitted three budget scenarios for 2000-2001 to the Conference.
The first of these scenarios, at US$687 million, envisions real growth for the Organization. Under this scenario, additional resources required for high-priority areas would be close to $22.6 million, or 3.5 percent of the current Regular Budget appropriation of $650 million. This amount would go primarily to support the Organization's technical and economic programmes and the Technical Cooperation Programme. The remainder of the increase, approximately $15 million, would go to cover general cost increases.
The second budget scenario, at $664.9 million, is a 'zero real growth' budget, providing additional funds only to meet inflationary increases. The third, a 'zero no-growth' budget, holds FAO to its current biennial budget of $650 million, requiring the Organization to absorb cost increases of almost $15 million.
Under all but the first scenario, FAO's budget will remain lower than it was six years ago. The Organization's budget for the biennium 1994-1995 rose to $673 million from $651 million in 1992-1993. For 1996-1997, it was cut by the Conference to $650 million, where it has remained.
Five additional flags may be flying by the end of the Conference, as Representatives will vote on applications for membership from the Republic of San Marino in Europe and the Pacific Ocean island states of Kiribati, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Niue and the Republic of Palau. Admission of the five countries would bring total FAO membership to 180 countries, plus one organization, the European Community.
During the conference, outstanding groups and individuals will receive awards and medals. The A.H. Boerma Award will be presented to a development journalist or news agency, the B.R. Sen Award to an expert who has served in an FAO field post and the Edouard Saouma Award will go to an institution responsible for implementing a project in a developing country.
The non-governmental organization National Fisheries Solidarity in Sri Lanka has been announced as the first recipient of the Margarita Lizárraga Medal. The medal is presented to a person or organization that has made an outstanding and practical contribution to the application of FAO's Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
The Conference will also review The State of Food and Agriculture, FAO's annual assessment of progress in improving food security, and progress made on the follow-up to the World Food Summit. Another topic on the agenda is the Organization's Strategic Framework for 2000-2015.
Listen to or download an audio report on the agenda of the Thirtieth Session of the FAO Conference (available in French only):
12 November 1999