Official FAO response to evaluation report
Food agency embraces “Reform with Growth”
29 October 2007, Rome – FAO today welcomed the report of the first Independent External Evaluation (IEE) in its 62-year history as a major milestone and proposed a number of early actions to start the process of implementing its recommendations.
“Management supports the principal conclusion in the report of the IEE on the need for ‘reform with growth’ so as to have an FAO ‘fit for this century’ that would ‘set a new standard of excellence in multilateral organizations’,” FAO said in its official Management Response to the IEE report, which was published on October 18.
The IEE report and the response stressed that it was important to link the strategic aims to the means needed to accomplish them.
“Agriculture is back on the world agenda and the IEE report offers a timely opportunity for the membership to take action to fashion a more strategically oriented, effective and responsive Organization”. The IEE report “provides a strong basis from which the Director-General and Members can work together to improve governance and the efficiency and effectiveness of FAO’s work,” the response said.
Noting that the world faces the stark reality of needing to feed 50 percent more people by 2050 from a diminishing land and water resource base, and in an environment increasingly threatened by climate change, the response said: “The Director-General has emphasised that he is committed to leading a process of transformation than can build on the willingness of FAO staff to implement such reforms as may be decided by Member States.”
The response noted that the report contained both positive and critical assessments of the Organization and concluded: “Overall, the underlying analysis and resulting recommendations provide a good basis for objective discussion of the issues, challenges and opportunities pertaining to the future of the Organization.”
The IEE report will be discussed by FAO’s member countries at scheduled meetings of the governing Council and Conference in November. If Member States accept the IEE proposal, a working group involving management and membership could be established to develop a three to four year Immediate Action Plan to address its 109 recommendations, which would be presented to a special session of the Conference in the second half of 2008.
The response noted that previous reform initiatives in the Organization had been frustrated by lack of resources, as had attempts to build consensus on priorities in the face of decreasing budgets. “In a growth environment, it should be possible to ensure re-programming and priority setting by consensus,” the response said.
The response said that FAO management accepted the need for a new Strategic Framework for the Organization, focusing on the three agreed goals of overcoming hunger and malnutrition, promoting agriculture as a contribution to economic and social development, and the sustainable management of the natural resource base for food and agriculture.
It noted a series of recommendations related to the governance of the Organization, which were clearly for the membership to decide upon, but added: “Management and staff would welcome the introduction of measures which would make the governance process of FAO more effective and less prone to divisions.”
Turning to criticisms of the bureaucratic nature of the Organization, the response said that FAO’s management agreed with the vast majority of recommendations and listed more than 30 actions within the existing authority of the Director-General where implementation of IEE recommendations could start almost immediately – although some had financial implications.
In its conclusion, the response said: “Management trusts that the 2007 Council and Conference will recognize the expectations generated by the IEE and succeed in taking a balanced view of what needs to be done to provide FAO with the guidance, consensus and the means to enable the Organization to support Member States in facing the great challenges of agriculture, rural development and food security in the 21st century.”
Director, FAO Information Division
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