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FAO members approve $42.6 million reform plan

Agency aims for Reform with Growth over three years

© FAO/Giulio Napolitano
The FAO Conference in session.

22 November 2008, Rome - A Special Conference of FAO member countries has agreed a $42.6 million, three-year Immediate Plan of Action to enable the 63-year-old UN specialized agency to "reform with growth" as recommended by an Independent External Evaluation (IEE) completed last year, FAO said today.

Under the plan, about half of the funds, $21.8 million, will be spent next year to provide FAO with enhanced governance, improve its performance through streamlined management and help it focus more closely on core objectives and functions.

The plan "provides a firm and realistic basis for FAO to significantly enhance its global relevance, efficiency and effectiveness in the service of all its members", the Conference said in a concluding resolution.

It would better equip FAO to deal with the crucial challenges it must address, including hunger and poverty reduction, food crises, climate change, bioenergy and the impact of the ongoing financial crisis on agriculture.

Ambitious

"This plan represents an ambitious road map for FAO renewal," Director-General Jacques Diouf told the Conference earlier this week. To meet the expectations of members "we must build a new FAO", he said, adding there would be a "sweeping overhaul of the way FAO works".

That will include reform of financial procedures and reorganization of structures at headquarters and in the field and "entail change in hierarchies and in human resources management", he noted.

One third of Agency's 120 Directorships will be reduced over the next three years, saving $17.4 million to be reinvested in technical assistance programmes. Most of the $42.6 million required from now to 2011 will be spent on improving systems and programmes and on organizational restructuring together with introducing culture change.

Summit meeting

In his address to the Conference last Wednesday, Diouf appealed for a new system of governance of world food security and for a form of trade that was fair as well as free, allowing farmers in developing and developed countries alike to earn a decent living.

He proposed a summit meeting early next year to start correcting the present system which "generates world food insecurity". The Summit should also find $30 billion a year to increase food production in developing countries by investing in infrastructure and improved productivity.