FAO Conference to review reform proposals

Agriculture ministers and high-level officials from FAO’s Member nations will review wide-ranging reform proposals for the UN agency during the 33rd Session of its governing Conference opening on Saturday.

© FAO/G. Diana

17 November 2005, Rome - The Conference will examine the latest report on the world’s state of food and agriculture and the preparations for an international conference on agrarian reform and rural development to be held in Brazil in March 2006.

It will also review a progress report on implementing a gender plan of action as well as several other development issues.

The Conference will elect a Director-General (on Saturday, 19 November 2005) for a new six-year term beginning next January and will decide the level of funding the Organization will be given to carry out its work through the 2006-2007 biennium.

Dr. Jacques Diouf, who has headed the Organization since 1994, is the sole candidate for the post of Director-General.

Dr. Diouf has submitted to the Conference proposals for reform entitled “FAO Reform, A vision for the twenty-first century”.

The proposals emphasize the need to adapt the Organization to changing contexts and new demands, particularly with regards to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Delegates will have to vote on a two-year Programme of Work and Budget for FAO.

Four budget levels will be discussed: a zero real growth level, which maintains purchasing power; real growth of approximately 2.5% per year; a higher real growth scenario of 9.25% over the biennium; and a zero nominal growth scenario, which entails a reduction in real terms of 5.7%, including a US$ 4 million cut in the Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP).

Admission of a new member

The Conference will vote on application for membership from one country: the Republic of Belarus.

Admission of this country will bring total FAO membership to 188 States plus one Organization, the European Community.

The Principality of Andorra has also applied for membership.

A series of special events will take place during the Conference, which ends on November 26. They will focus on: Avian influenza (Wednesday, 23 November, 12:45); Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and their increased vulnerability due to global warming; Water for agriculture in Africa, the Near East and SIDS; Gender equality and access to factors of production.

The McDougall Memorial Lecture will be delivered this year by David Beckmann, President of Bread for the World, a US-based citizens’ movement against hunger. The lecture is given in honour of Frank McDougall, one of the founders of FAO.

At a news conference on November 22, the Director-General will present the latest FAO Hunger Report, The State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI 2005).