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CL 115/12




Hundred-and-fifteenth Session

Rome, 23 - 28 November 1998

2000 - 2015
Version 1.0

This document contains a first draft of a proposed Strategic Framework to guide the work of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in the medium and longer term. It is tabled as "work in progress", in order to seek the reactions, comments and guidance of FAO's main stakeholders, its Members, as well as its sister organizations in the United Nations system and other partners outside the system, before proceeding to further development and refinement.

A structured process of consultations, between September 1998 and September 1999, foresees the preparation of successive versions of the document, prior to its submission for discussion and adoption by the FAO Conference in November 1999 as the Strategic Framework for FAO for the years 2000-2015 (see also Annex I). This document therefore constitutes only the first step in what must be an iterative and interactive process, involving the full membership of FAO, and drawing on the wealth of knowledge and vision which its partners may offer.

The document has the following structure:

Part I looks at trends in the external environment and the challenges facing countries and the international community in achieving the objectives of the World Food Summit and the outlook for agriculture, forestry and fisheries development. It recalls the mandate and purpose of FAO, and the goals of Members to which it is expected to contribute, and summarizes the main findings from initial consultations with Members and the Secretariat's analyses which led to the proposals contained in this document.

Part II proposes five major corporate strategies, or areas for FAO strategic action in the medium to long term, defining within each area two or three strategic objectives for the Organization. As part of the process of refining the Strategic Framework, and on the basis of guidance received, full-fledged interdisciplinary strategies would need to be developed for each objective.

Part III identifies five major strategic issues of a cross-organizational nature, and indicates the steps underway or proposed to respond to them. Again, on the basis of guidance received, full-fledged strategies will be formulated to address the issues.

Annex I shows the sequence of events leading to the approval and publication of the Strategic Framework. This sequence was contained in document JM 98/1 submitted to the Programme and Finance Committees at their May 1998 sessions. That document also describes the preparations within the Secretariat and addresses the steps to be taken following adoption by the Conference in 1999 of the Strategic Framework, including assuring the link between this and the Medium-Term Plan and Programme of Work and Budget, and defining criteria for determining relative priorities in the light of resource availability.

Annex II presents the results of the Secretariat's preliminary analysis of the responses received from Members to a questionnaire sent out in June 1998. The analysis will be completed later in 1998, incorporating further responses to the questionnaire. The results of consultations with partner organizations, on the basis of the present draft, will be made available at the same time.

The document is submitted to the Council in accordance with Conference Resolution 6/97, reproduced below:

Strengthening the FAO 2000 Project


Reaffirming the commitment in the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Plan of Action to reduce the number of undernourished people to half their present level no later than 2015,

Welcoming the proposals by the Director-General to strengthen the strategic management of FAO, especially the formulation of a long-term Strategic Framework and consequently modified Medium-Term Plan and Programme of Work and Budget (the FAO 2000 project):

  1. Requests the Director-General to further the process leading to the development of a Strategic Vision for the FAO for the years 2000-2015, including inter alia, a set of core strategic objectives and an Implementation Programme;
  2. Decides that the process should be, in the framework of existing structures, a full participatory process, involving not only the Secretariat but also the full membership of FAO;
  3. Decides further that this process should recognize that a prime responsibility of the CFS is to monitor the implementation of the World Food Plan of Action;
  4. Requests the Director-General to prepare an appropriate progress report for consideration in the FAO Council in November 1998.
(Adopted on 18 November 1997)


Box 1. Action by the Council

The present document is Version 1.0 of the Strategic Framework as referred to in Annex I. The Council may wish to address the framework proposed in Parts II and III, as a basis for further development and refinement of the document in Version 2.0.



Major Trends

1. One of the first steps undertaken within the Secretariat in preparing the draft Strategic Framework was an analysis of the external environment in order to identify those political, economic, social and technological trends or factors which were likely to have direct implications for or bearing on the Organization's future work. Twelve major trends were identified; these are summarized very briefly below:

Changes in the role and functions of the state

2. It is expected that governments will continue to withdraw from functions that private sectors and markets are considered to perform better and concentrate more on the provision of public goods and of a framework conducive to sustainable economic growth and poverty alleviation. However, policy instruments available to the state will be increasingly limited by international agreements. It is expected that public administrations will be downsized and decentralized, with major emphasis being placed on accountability and efficiency, and privatization of some government services.

Continuing globalization and trade liberalisation

3. The growing integration of trade and financial markets is likely to continue, further restricting domestic policy options. Agricultural trade liberalization is expected to continue in line with the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture and international regulatory frameworks, conventions and other legal instruments. Unless adequate mechanisms are put in place, capital openness and volatility may continue and adversely affect agriculture and food security. More technology transfer will be made through private investment and trade.

Growth in the number of countries in the middle income group, and increased reliance on regional blocs

4 It is envisaged that there will be further differentiation between countries in the middle income and poorest groups. Middle income countries will experience a rapid evolution from subsistence to commercial agriculture even though pockets of urban and rural poverty may persist. They will also be less reliant on the international community for technical assistance in agricultural development. A strengthening of regional and sub-regional groups, and an increase in their influence in global affairs, may be expected.

Persistence of poverty and mounting inequality -- a widening of the gap between the affluent and the poor

5. Present trends indicate little congruence between stated goals (such as equity in human, social and economic development) and actual results. The disparity between the rich and the poor, both globally and nationally, is being exacerbated. Economic growth, per se, is generally not reducing food insecurity in the poorer segments of societies. Likewise, increasing disparities in access to resources, education and technology are widening the gap between the "haves" and "have-nots".

Continued risk of disaster-related and complex emergencies

6. The number of disaster-related and complex emergencies may continue to be high, with the potential for further exacerbating problems of food insecurity, migration, and social, economic and political instability, as well as the continued diversion of scarce resources away from assistance addressing the root causes of these emergencies. Affected countries are often among the poorest and most vulnerable with predominantly agriculture-based economies. Increased vulnerability to economic/financial crises and over-dependence on a limited range of commodities and technologies present additional risks.

Changing demands on agriculture in increasingly urbanized societies

7. A rapidly increasing share of the population of developing countries will live in cities, having major implications for the role of agriculture both in rural and peri-urban areas. Access to food will become more complex as an increasing proportion is acquired through market exchange. Agricultural production will become more intensive and commercial, requiring further increases in productivity of agricultural labour and land. The multi-functional role of the agricultural sector, extending beyond economic aspects to include social, cultural and ecological dimensions, may be expected to raise various policy implications.

Changing consumer perceptions and increasing public awareness of food and environmental issues

8. Changes in consumer preferences and dietary consumption patterns, already evident in developed countries, may continue and become more widespread also in middle income countries. Greater demand may be expressed for fish, fruits and vegetables and non-staple products as well as for "organic" products. Increased consumer awareness of food safety and environmental issues will give rise to requirements for further science-based standards in national and international trade.

Increasing pressure on natural resources and competition for their use

9. The risks arising from pressure on natural resources, in particular water and land, and degradation of the natural resource base are likely to increase as competition for resource use intensifies, particularly where markets fail to ensure efficient management of these resources. The average per caput availability of freshwater will continue to decline. Problems of water quality will continue, causing increased risk of diseases and salinization of irrigated land. Competition for freshwater resources, including across national boundaries, will increase. Degradation of land and competition between agriculture and other sectors, in particular through urbanization, will increase. Land use will become even more intensive. Biological diversity will continue to be threatened as traditional crop cultivars are abandoned, deforestation continues and habitats are lost. Some 30% of livestock breeds are already at the point of extinction while, in fisheries, introduced species threaten to erode natural genetic diversity. An increase in demand for wood products will provide the engine for commercial forestry development although conversion of sub-tropical and tropical forest to agriculture will continue. Widespread depletion of marine and inland fisheries resources is feared. Climatic fluctuations, the main cause of variability of agricultural production, will probably increase. By 2015 it should be possible to have a much clearer picture of climate change and the extent to which it has anthropogenic causes.

Steady progress in research and technological development, and continued inequality in access to its benefits

10. Technological developments will occur in all areas, but will not be equally accessible to all countries, which may influence countries' ability to compete in global markets. Technological advances are likely to be important in the areas of energy, transportation, biotechnology and information technology. Agricultural research will become increasingly globalized with the private sector conducting most biotechnology research. The needs of resource-poor farmers in developing countries are unlikely to be addressed adequately by the private sector, with a need for the public sector, including international institutions, to fill the gap.

Increasing impact of information and communications technology on institutions and societies

11. As the "information and communications revolution" advances and becomes more global, the use of these technologies is likely to become a significant source of wealth. It is expected that inequalities will be exacerbated since developed countries will have at their disposal the bulk of information technology resources. Developing countries will have increasing access to these resources but the amount of investment may be insufficient, due to scarcity of capital, to close the gap relative to developed countries.

Changes in nature and composition of funding for agricultural development

12. The total pool of external assistance resources, excluding IMF support, is not expected to expand significantly and may, in fact, fall. The part of that assistance delivered by private non-profit organizations may grow. Total external assistance to agriculture, both from bilateral and multilateral sources, may continue to fall in real terms. Lending from multilateral financial agencies may, however, be maintained or perhaps expand moderately. There will also be a growing role and competition for foreign direct investment (FDI).

Changing role and public perceptions of the United Nations System

13. It is difficult to predict how the UN system will be perceived in 10-15 years in the light of scepticism in some countries of the developed world. The improvement of the system's image will depend to a large extent on better communication of the results being achieved, as well as on current reforms underway in many UN organizations and on the capacity of the system to forge a coordinated approach based on greater synergies in the work of its component parts. The trend of setting up "parallel" structures involving also non-UN actors, to deal with issues requiring international cooperation and/or global collective action seems set to continue; non-governmental and civil society actors are likely to continue to press for a greater voice in UN affairs.

Global Perspectives for Food Security

14. Having identified major trends which will need to be taken into account by the Organization in defining its Strategic Framework, it is also important to consider, more specifically, the global perspectives for food security towards 2015. FAO is currently in the process of taking a fresh look at the long-term assessment of its Agriculture: Towards 2010 (AT2010) study, mainly in order to better evaluate the prospects for progress towards the World Food Summit (WFS) target. For this reason, the time horizon of the analysis is being extended to 2015. It is too early to report in detail on this new assessment, but preliminary findings suggest that the broad dimensions of the major food and agriculture variables would not be very different from those depicted in AT2010 and in the technical documentation prepared for the WFS.

Primacy of policy reforms

15. In spite of unprecedented progress in technical and economic potential, the close of this century witnesses a continuing slowdown in the growth of world agricultural production while hundreds of millions of people, in particular children, continue to be chronically hungry and malnourished. The coincidence-incidence of these two tendencies does not, in any way, reflect a lack of capacity of the world as a whole to produce the additional food required to eliminate undernutrition. Rather, the persistence of hunger is due to development failures. In many low-income countries with high dependence on agriculture, this includes in particular lack of promotion of local food production and rural development. With appropriate policy reforms and institutional adjustments and with due attention to social equity, incentives can and should be provided to stimulate innovations and investments towards a sustainable path of agricultural development which would ultimately provide enough food for all. What are the prospects that progress may be made during the next 10 to 15 years?

Further improvements in average food and nutrition indicators

16. Population growth is the main determining factor for growth in aggregate food demand. The absolute annual additions to world population, which peaked at nearly 90 million persons in the second half of the 1980s, are now slowly declining, and are at present about 80 million, over 90 percent of which are in the developing countries. In parallel, the latest World Bank assessment of economic growth prospects indicates some improvement in the overall outlook of the developing countries for the next decade, though with considerable differences between countries. These prospects indicate that further improvements may be expected in the average food and nutrition indicators for the world including the developing countries as a whole, but also that the food insecurity and undernutrition problems will persist (possibly at slightly attenuated levels) in many countries.

Modest declines in the numbers of undernourished

17. Per caput food availability, in the developing countries as a whole, is expected to increase. The incidence of undernutrition in the developing countries may decline in relative terms (as a percentage of population) but, given population growth, if past trends continue there would be only modest declines in the numbers of undernourished from the current level of over 800 million persons. High rates of undernutrition may persist in sub-Saharan Africa, and be somewhat reduced in South Asia. Therefore, the efficiency of policies to address the issue of poverty and promote sustainable livelihoods among the vulnerable groups will be a major determining factor in the fight against undernutrition.

Local production as main source of food in developing countries, but imports also expected to rise

18. To meet the growth in effective (i.e. as expressed in the marketplace) food demand, world agricultural production will have to grow at an annual rate of approximately 1.8 percent. Local production will be by far the main source of the increases in the total food supplies of the developing countries. For many of them, agricultural and rural development is not only essential in generating food supplies, but also to the livelihood of large numbers of rural people.

19. Nevertheless, net food imports of developing countries are expected to continue to grow. Net imports of cereals may grow from the 100 -110 million tons of recent years to more than 160 million tons by 2010 and increase further thereafter. Part of these food imports would have to be supplied as food aid.

20. The rest of the world (mainly the major exporting OECD countries) should face no major constraints in generating these additional exports of cereals (and of livestock products), given that (a) their own demand will grow very slowly in volume, and (b) part of the additional exports to developing countries will probably be offset by strongly declining exports to Eastern Europe and countries of the former USSR. This latter region will probably become a modest net exporter of cereals.

21. The group of developing countries (as currently defined) could in the longer term turn from being a net exporter of agricultural primary products into a net importer, with the consequence that they will have to pay for their food imports partly with earnings from exports of non-agricultural goods and services and higher value-added agricultural products.

Lower stocks and firmer but more volatile prices

22. Regarding world market prices for agricultural products, and cereals in particular, there are reasons to expect that the secular decline, in real terms, may not continue in the medium term. There will be less downward pressure on prices as the Uruguay Round Agreements are implemented leading to declining structural surpluses and lesser distorting support to agricultural production and trade. There is also an expectation that lower public stock holdings, together with geographical shifts in global stocks, may enhance the risk of higher volatility in world market prices and of reduced availabilities for food aid.

Sustainable intensification as main source of production growth

23. It is expected that about four-fifths of the projected crop production increases in developing countries will come from intensification of agricultural production with two-thirds in the form of higher yields and the remainder as a result of increased cropping intensity (more multiple cropping, shorter fallows), particularly in countries with appropriate agro-ecological environments and little or no potential to expand land in cultivation. Achievement of this yield growth depends on high priority being accorded to investment in primary agriculture and in agricultural research and extension, making a wide range of modern technologies accessible.

24. Some of the environmental and sustainability implications of the foreseen increase and intensification of agriculture are that (a) the limited agricultural land expansion need not be associated with the rapid rates of tropical deforestation observed in the past provided sustainable land use is achieved; (b) water is rapidly becoming a severe limiting factor and policies need to be introduced for effective water management, including increasing the cost to users; (c) there will be further increases in the use of agrochemicals (fertilizer, pesticides) in developing countries, though at declining rates compared with the past; and, (d) safe use of external inputs (fertilizer, pesticides and improved varieties) is indispensable for sustainable agriculture.

25. The achievement of sustainable agricultural and rural development will be critically dependent on the concerted application of a combination of appropriate policy instruments. Considerable potential exists for the efficient use of existing, and the development of new, technologies for sustainable intensification of production. With appropriate incentives that induce innovations and investments towards the full use of this potential, it should be possible to keep any trade-offs between food production growth and protection of the environment to a minimum.

Halving the number of undernourished no later than 2015 - the major challenge

26. The paragraphs above present the "most likely outcome." However, a number of factors, about which it is not possible to be certain at this stage, may cause future developments to be different. An important departure from foreseen developments would be the successful implementation of the Plan of Action adopted at the World Food Summit, and in particular, achievement of the target of halving the number of hungry by no later than 2015. Present trends point to a further reduction, but not a halving, of the number of chronically undernourished by that year. Hence, a major effort will have to be made if the Summit target is to be achieved. Globally, the additional amounts of food to be produced and traded would be minor. The objective is also feasible at the individual country level provided that those countries experiencing widespread undernutrition accord high priority to their agricultural development and engage in a much more rigorous policy effort to enhance the access of the poor to income earning opportunities. It is also estimated that investment in agriculture in these countries should be 20 to 30 percent above what it would otherwise be.

27. Preliminary analysis suggests that, even assuming exceptionally high rates of income and demand growth as well as feasible combinations of domestic production and imports, meeting the WFS target will be extremely difficult for many countries unless they succeed in achieving significant improvements in their intra-national distribution of food. Typically, such countries currently have high population growth rates (over 2.0 % p.a.), low per caput calorie availability (less than 2000 Kcal per day), and a rather unequal food distribution. Efforts to overcome inequities of access to food through a broad range of poverty alleviation measures, including better access to means of production and employment, will represent a key policy problem for these countries if they are to achieve the WFS target.

28. To conclude, the world food security situation seems, by and large, to be developing along the lines of slow and uneven progress as foreseen in the FAO technical documentation for the WFS. In practice, and as far as can be determined so soon after the WFS, progress is not yet being made at anywhere near the rates required for meeting the WFS target. Unless major efforts are made to improve food supplies as well as to overcome inequities, some countries may still have an incidence of undernutrition ranging from 15 to 30 percent of their populations. It was precisely this kind of outlook, particularly the realization that undernutrition would decline at too slow a rate, that fuelled the WFS debate which led to the adoption of the target of halving undernutrition by 2015.

FAO's Response

29. In the light of the above conclusions concerning the likely evolution of the external environment and the challenges facing the international community, preparations for the Strategic Framework required an examination of what FAO could and should do to help address those challenges.

30. The fundamental purpose for which FAO was created in 1945 is set out in the Preamble to the FAO Constitution (Box 2). The 1995 "Quebec Declaration", adopted by the Ministerial Meeting convened on the occasion of the Organization's Fiftieth Anniversary and subsequently approved by the FAO Conference, reaffirmed Members' dedication to the principles on which the Organization was founded and their political support to the Organization as it carries out "its mission to help build a world where all people can live with dignity, confident of food security."

Box 2. FAO's Constitution

The Preamble states: 

"The Nations accepting this Constitution, being determined to promote the common welfare by furthering separate and collective action on their part for the purpose of: 

  • raising levels of nutrition and standards of living of the peoples under their respective jurisdictions;
  • securing improvements in the efficiency of the production and distribution of all food and agricultural products;
  • bettering the condition of rural populations;
  • and thus contributing toward and expanding world economy and ensuring humanity's freedom from hunger;
hereby establish the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, hereinafter referred to as the "Organization" through which the Members will report to one another on the measures taken and the progress achieved in the field of action set forth above." 

Article I defines the mandate of FAO as follows: 

"1. The Organization shall collect, analyse, interpret and disseminate information relating to nutrition, food and agriculture. In this Constitution, the term "agriculture" and its derivatives include fisheries, marine products, forestry and primary forestry products. 

2. The Organization shall promote and, where appropriate, shall recommend national and international action with respect to: 

  1. scientific, technological, social and economic research relating to nutrition, food and agriculture;
  2. the improvement of education and administration relating to nutrition, food and agriculture, and the spread of public knowledge of nutritional and agricultural science and practice;
  3. the conservation of natural resources and the adoption of improved methods of agricultural production;
  4. the improvement of the processing, marketing and distribution of food and agricultural products;
  5. the adoption of policies for the provision of adequate agricultural credit, national and international;
  6. the adoption of international policies with respect to agricultural commodity arrangements.
3. It shall also be the function of the Organization: 
  1. to furnish such technical assistance as governments may request;
  2. to organize, in cooperation with the governments concerned, such missions as may be needed to assist them to fulfil the obligation arising from their acceptance of the recommendations of the United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture and of this Constitution; and
  3. generally to take all necessary and appropriate action to implement the purposes of the Organizations as set forth in the Preamble."

Global Goals of Members

31. In 1996 the World Food Summit, the first global gathering of leaders at the highest political level to focus solely on food security, renewed the commitment of the world community to achieving the goal of ensuring food for all. The series of world conferences and summits convened in the Nineties has generated a broad-based international consensus on development which constitutes a common response by the global community to the situation at the end of the Twentieth Century. Coming towards the end of the series, the World Food Summit built on agreements reached in those fora and added the essential dimension of food security to the broad agenda for action in the Twenty-first.

32. A common thread which runs through the declarations and action plans adopted by the global conferences is that of national responsibility and international solidarity. The goals defined are goals which only states can achieve, but the multilateral institutions, each within its own mandate and sphere of competence, are called upon to assist and support them in that effort. It was therefore considered essential to identify, in the first instance, those goals of Members which FAO would contribute to achieving. Following a study of the Basic Texts of FAO and the various texts agreed by conferences, three goals were hypothesized:

33. Three "global goals" along the lines described above were identified in the questionnaire sent out to all Members as a first step in consulting FAO's main stakeholders, and respondents were asked to indicate whether they agreed with the goal as stated, agreed with the substance but not as stated, or disagreed. The preliminary analysis of responses received by 27 July 1998 (see Annex II) indicated massive support for the substance of these goals, but at the same time concern that the proposed concise formulations might not adequately cover all aspects agreed upon by the international conferences. As the purpose of the Strategic Framework exercise is certainly not to reopen debate on goals already agreed by Members, but rather to guide FAO's response to them, it is judged preferable to refer Members to the texts in question rather than to attempt, in this document, to summarize them.

Goals and Services of FAO

34. Related to the question of Members' goals is that of the goals of FAO as an institution. As is clear from Article I of the Constitution (Box 2) the Organization's functions make it primarily a provider of services, and its goals are inextricably linked to those of the Members it serves. As part of the same questionnaire, therefore, Members were asked to rate the priority they accorded to five goal-related areas, or major categories of work, and then to indicate their view of the importance of FAO's role as a supplier of services in that area. As shown in Annex II, a clear majority of countries which responded attached a high or very high degree of priority to all of the goal-related areas of work proposed. Their rating of the role of FAO as a supplier of services was more differentiated, for reasons explained in the analysis, but also generally positive.

35. In parallel to the consultation with Members, the extensive process of reflection and analysis carried out within the FAO Secretariat during the first half of 1998 was synthesized with a view to determining what were the Organization's strongest comparative advantages and core competencies, and what factors could impede its ability to fulfil its mission. The results of that exercise, coupled with the distillation of the major opportunities and hazards identified in the analysis of the external environment, were applied in the formulation of objectives and strategies first by individual departments and subsequently at the corporate level. Finally, the preliminary results of the questionnaire to Members were drawn upon to further refine proposals for corporate strategies both for the five major substantive areas of work, and for five important issues of a cross-organizational nature. These proposals, which constitute a first draft of a Strategic Framework for the years 2000 to 2015, are covered in Parts II and III below.


36. This part of the document proposes five Corporate Strategies under which nest twelve inter-disciplinary strategic objectives. Their origins lie in both the Global Goals of Members and in the classification and consolidation of the detailed proposals for strategies which had been developed by the technical departments and regional offices in response to the Global Goals. Following review of this first version of the Strategic Framework, it is proposed that fully fledged strategies be developed for each of the strategic objectives.

37. In the interest of brevity, it has not been possible to specify all the departmental strategies nor the very detailed analysis of the partnerships envisaged as part of the response to each strategic objective. For the latter, a brief statement is included summarizing the overall picture in each case. Similarly, substantial work has been carried out in the identification of indicators at the departmental level although it became increasingly clear that they will be more realistic at the level of the Medium-Term Plan in which projects with more specific time-bound objectives will be defined.

A Contributing to the eradication of food insecurity and rural poverty, and addressing food, agriculture and natural resource emergencies.

The Challenge

38. The World Food Summit Plan of Action recognizes that "extraordinary efforts" will be required to reach the Summit's target of reducing the number of undernourished people to half their present level no later than 2015. Both the Rome Declaration and the Plan of Action state that poverty is a major cause of food insecurity, and that sustainable progress in poverty eradication is critical to improve access to food.

39. Commitment Two calls for policies aimed at eradicating poverty and inequality, and improving physical and economic access by all, at all times, to sufficient nutritionally adequate and safe food and its effective utilization; it envisages both measures to maximize the incomes of the poor and ensure safe and accessible food supplies, and measures targeted to assist the neediest, most vulnerable and disadvantaged. Commitment Five commits countries to endeavour to prevent and be prepared for natural disasters and man-made emergencies and to meet transitory and emergency food requirements in ways that encourage recovery, rehabilitation, development and a capacity to satisfy future needs.

40. The analysis of the external environment foresees the persistence of poverty and a widening gap between the affluent and the poor, both among countries and within many societies. It notes that present trends support general economic growth but only a slow reduction in food insecurity. A conclusion of the external analysis is that many of the actions required are made more difficult by a number of trends external to agriculture and rural economies, and that the magnitude of the problems to be addressed justifies a particular focus on assisting the poor countries and vulnerable groups, where the needs are greatest.

41. The internal analysis identified, as a major strength, FAO's authority and status as a neutral global organization able to address such issues, at both the international and national levels, both directly and in partnership with other organizations. Also cited were its range of relevant disciplines and technical expertise, and its fifty years of accumulated experience and institutional memory.

42. The external and internal analyses noted the persistence of crises and emergencies, both man-made and natural disaster-related, and a consequent exacerbation of current problems of food insecurity, migration, instability and diversion of scarce resources away from the type of assistance needed to address root causes. FAO's capacity, within its sphere of competence, to address all phases of the emergency cycle, from early warning and disaster prevention through relief and rehabilitation to development, was seen as a strength and an indication that the Organization should strengthen its partnerships with others to contribute to an increasingly well-targeted and coordinated international emergency preparedness and response system.

43. The questionnaire results indicated the importance Members assign to this area of work, with all but a handful assigning it the highest, or high priority. With regard to FAO's role as a provider of services, the majority of respondents saw it as major if not of central importance. The formulation of the three strategic objectives below takes into account comments made by several Members in the questionnaire responses.

A.1 Advise on policies and actions to ensure sustainable livelihoods in rural areas, taking account of the interactions between agriculture, fisheries and forestry and other sectors of the economy in income and employment generation, and to achieve more equitable access by women and men to natural, economic and social resources and/or their benefits.

44. There is full recognition of the validity of approaches to rural development which take into account the interactions between agriculture, fisheries and forestry and other sectors of the economy in income and employment generation and hence of the advantage of promoting pluriactivity among rural families in the pursuit of sustainable livelihoods. As recognized by the WFS Plan of Action, the promotion of equitable access to resources, in particular by gender, is a sine qua non for the success of such efforts. Critical to the attainment of better rural living standards will be investment in improved access to food, water and power supplies, as well as educational and health services.

45. FAO's normative work will be strongly focused on showing how rural livelihoods and food security can be improved in ways which contribute to overall national economic growth. This will be taken up in the Organization's advice to member countries and in its assistance in mobilizing the required investment funds from domestic and international sources. Testing and demonstrating means of alleviating rural poverty and improving food security and nutrition, including through the Special Programme on Food Security (SPFS), will aim to generate the experience on which countries can base policy reforms and the design of national programmes for improving food security in line with WFS commitments.


46. This inter-disciplinary objective requires that advice on policy and investment build on the normative work of all FAO units in a coherent manner. Among external partners, the international financing institutions (IFIs) will be most important to increase ODA flows in support of food security. UN organizations members of the ACC network on rural development and food security will have a major role, as do the CGIAR system, academic and research institutions, NGOs and the private sector.

A.2 Encourage governments to recognize and target vulnerable and disadvantaged groups (e.g. the chronically undernourished in urban and rural areas, the rural poor, producers in marginal areas) with special measures to enable them to attain access to sufficient nutritionally adequate and safe food and greater livelihood security.

47. While poverty eradication should eventually result in food security for all, there are compelling reasons for promoting more direct attacks on the problem of undernutrition. Adequate nutrition alone, by improving health, can contribute significantly to poverty reduction, and conversely, lack of food prevents individuals from moving out of poverty. If the WFS target is to be met there is an immediate need for countries to adopt special measures directed to the particularly vulnerable and disadvantaged to ensure that they do not to pass their entire lives underfed and bypassed by the development process. The challenge for the countries with large segments of their population falling into this group, and for FAO in its efforts to assist them, is to address this need in an era of diminished state intervention and to obtain, allocate and administer resources for "safety nets" and targeted programmes in both urban and rural (particularly resource-poor) areas.

48. The main lines of FAO's effort will be to promote and support direct action to improve household food security and nutrition, particularly among food-insecure and socially disadvantaged populations. It will increase awareness at the highest levels of government of the need for policies and programmes which incorporate nutrition objectives; assist countries in drawing on food insecurity and vulnerability information and mapping systems (FIVIMS) to design and implement appropriate responses to chronic undernutrition; assess and support national food assistance policies and programmes; address the needs of poor and marginalized population groups through provision of advice on the choice and use of technologies and support services for food-deficit areas and fragile eco-systems; and work with partner institutions to develop resource mobilization strategies for targeted programmes to reduce undernutrition.


49. All concerned departments and decentralized units will contribute to the strategy. Potential for greatly strengthened cooperation and joint work exists with the other Rome-based food agencies, IFAD and WFP. Other UN organizations, the IFIs, NGOs and some elements of the private sector may join in targeted efforts in countries.

A.3 Assist in preventing emergencies related to food, agriculture, fisheries and forestry, provide early warning of such emergencies and help affected countries and populations to rehabilitate their natural resources and food production systems.

50. FAO is well-placed to contribute to disaster prevention programmes. It can also help to increase the resilience of countries, populations and communities and their capacity to cope with the actual and potential impacts of natural disasters and complex emergencies. Timely forecasting and early warning through combination of advanced satellite and more traditional approaches is required to alert countries and the international community to impending and actual emergencies. Moreover, once a calamity has occurred, countries generally need assistance as early as possible to restore their production capacity. The focus of efforts is likely to continue to be on FAO's capacity in early warning (GIEWS), relief and rehabilitation in the area of food and agriculture, and on the Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (EMPRES). There are also small but essential components for the fisheries and forestry sectors, in which natural resource emergencies can significantly affect the national economy and peoples' livelihoods.

51. Proposed strategies include helping prevent and mitigate the effects of disaster-related emergencies, and accelerating recovery from both natural and man-made disasters, including complex emergencies. With respect to the crop, livestock, forestry and fisheries sectors, this will be aided through advice on emergency preparedness, early warning and provision of assistance for relief agricultural supplies, rehabilitation and transition to development including the mobilization of investment.


52. Well-established mechanisms will ensure in-house coordination. External partners include: for early warning and food needs assessment, WFP, bilateral agencies and NGOs; for emergency response and rehabilitation, UN system organizations guided by UN/OCHA and funding support from multilateral or bilateral agencies and NGOs.

B. Promoting, developing and reinforcing policies and regulatory frameworks for food and agriculture.

The Challenge

53. The globalization of the market economy, increasing competition for resources and the withdrawal of governments from production and marketing entities all accentuate the need for the development of regulatory frameworks at the international and national levels which are equitable, sustainable, conducive to economic development, and which allow for conflict resolution. This has been amply recognized in the outcomes of global conferences and summits of recent years, and most recently by the World Food Summit, particularly in Commitments One, Three, Four and Seven.

54. The analysis of the external environment confirms that domestic and international trade in agriculture, fisheries and forestry is an important factor of food security. It also underlines the increasing recognition of the relevance of regulatory frameworks both among and within countries. The internal analysis notes that at the international level, FAO can furnish technical, economic and legal expertise and provide a neutral forum for the negotiation and development of international agreements, codes of conduct, technical standards and other instruments, as well as injecting food and agriculture interests into negotiations in other fora, in particular those relating to trade and the environment. It is uniquely well placed to provide support for the adoption of national policies and legislation that meet national needs and international requirements.

55. The responses to the questionnaire indicated the importance attached to this issue by Members, with all but a few according it highest, or high priority. With regard to the role of FAO as a provider of services at the international level, the consensus was equally high. For FAO's role in assisting individual countries, the responses were spread more evenly across the spectrum, reflecting the fact that the extent to which Members will need FAO assistance depends to a great extent on the state of development of their national capacities. Two strategic objectives are proposed as FAO's response.

B.1 Develop or promote the development of, facilitate agreement on, and monitor the implementation of international agreements, codes of conduct, standards and other instruments covering the conservation and management of natural resources for food and agriculture and the production, safe use and fair exchange of agricultural, fishery and forestry goods, thus also enhancing the contribution of international agricultural trade to food security.

56. There is an increasing need to improve the international regulatory framework for food and agriculture so that: 

57. Key contributions will be through provision of a forum for policy negotiations on the international regulatory framework for food and agriculture at the global and regional levels; enhancing the contribution of international agricultural trade to food security through commodity development activities, dissemination of commodity intelligence and international consultations on commodity issues; development of science based standards to implement the international regulatory framework, in the area of food quality and safety, agricultural products, phytosanitary measures, seeds and planting material, animals and responsible fisheries, including aquaculture; development of Members' capacities to participate in negotiations in other fora, including in particular their capacities to influence reforms of the international trading environment and to participate in, benefit from and deal with issues relating to UN Conventions and Conferences; facilitating cooperation and agreements on transboundary use of water and plant and animal genetic resources.


58. Facilitating the negotiation of international agreements and standards requires inputs from FAO technical, economic and legal units. External partners include the WTO, UNCTAD and other relevant UN organizations, other technical and trade related agencies, as well as relevant NGOs and academic institutions.

B.2 Guide and support the adoption of national policies and institutional and legal mechanisms to ensure that (a) agricultural, fishery and forestry products meet national needs and accepted local and international regulatory standards and norms, (b) the management of relevant natural resources responds to national requirements and international obligations, and (c) countries are better able to respond to changes in the international trading environment.

59. Growing competition for natural resources, and in particular land and water resources, together with privatization, will place increasing demands on the regulatory and allocation functions of national governments. These functions must be exercised in a full understanding of the requirements of relevant international agreements or norms. FAO possesses a unique capability in the UN system for advising Member Nations on the implications of the international regulatory framework for national policies and legislation on food and agriculture and for delivering technical assistance on the formulation of such policies and legislation.

60. The service offered by FAO in this area will clearly be of more importance to developing countries. Key contributions will be advice and capacity-building for the development of sound national policies, legislation and institutional mechanisms in food and agriculture that respond to national needs and the requirements of the international regulatory framework. These would include the setting of appropriate standards and promoting partnership arrangements with major multilateral and bilateral donors for assistance to member countries in the implementation of international agreements referring to food quality and safety standards.


61. Advice to countries will be multidisciplinary, involving technical, economic, policy assistance and legal units. External partners include IFIs, WTO, UNCTAD as well as other technical or trade-related agencies, relevant NGOs and academic institutions.

C. Creating sustainable increases in the supply and availability of food and other products from the crop, livestock, fisheries and forestry sectors.

The Challenge

62. Commitment Three of the WFS Plan of Action commits countries to "pursue participatory and sustainable food, agriculture, fisheries, forestry and rural development policies and practices in high and low potential areas, which are essential to adequate and reliable food supplies at the household, national, regional and global levels, and combat pests, drought and desertification, considering the multifunctional character of agriculture." The very substantial needs for investment, especially in technology generation, rural infrastructure, irrigation and agro-industries, were highlighted in the documentation prepared for the WFS. Furthermore, the need for the optimal allocation and use of such investments was taken up in Commitment Six.

63. The analysis of the external trends and forces indicated that, with the state no longer seen as the main executor of development programmes, but rather as providing the enabling framework, progress in the sector will depend even more on the initiative of producers, the private sector and especially small-scale entrepreneurs. Increasing urbanization and growth in the proportion of the population not involved in agriculture and in food production points to changes in the demands on agriculture, forestry and fisheries, including supply of a different range of products and streamlining of the supply chain.

64. The need for sustainable increases in production, particularly in Low-Income, Food-Deficit Countries, pointed to the importance of capitalizing in the short and medium term on technologies already available, adapted to the extent possible, to expand food output by small farmers. FAO would need to assist in closing the gap between yields in research stations and those in farmers' fields in the promotion of ways and means to increase farmers' net income, as well as in identification, analysis and removal of constraints to adoption of appropriate agriculture practices. FAO could transfer knowledge to countries and assist them in making it widely available to farmers, fisher-folk and other rural entrepreneurs, promoting demonstration of comprehensive approaches through the field programme, including the SPFS, as a catalytic tool.

65. In the initial analysis of questionnaire returns, this work area was regarded by a large majority of Members as of highest or high priority. With regard to FAO's role as a provider of services, Members placed more emphasis on assisting countries in making strategic choices than on facilitating adoption of appropriate packages and solutions. The formulation of the two strategic objectives below takes into account comments made by several Members.

C.1 Provide advice and assistance to member countries in making strategic choices to improve the efficiency of production and post-production systems in the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors and meet the needs and changing requirements of growing and increasingly urbanized populations.

66. The strategy will involve providing countries with a range of proven and appropriate options, and developing new ones if needed, for both sectoral policies and programme implementation strategies. Particular attention will be given to helping countries develop a policy environment and institutional framework which encourages investment in productive assets and services by farmers, small-scale entrepreneurs and the private sector, and which contributes to the mobilization of domestic resources for agricultural and rural development.

67. The strategy will also address systems management at the level of the production unit, the family, the business and the community in order to bring about greater efficiency and responsiveness to the market. These activities will be supported with analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of changes and trends and with diagnostic and impact analysis methods which take account of all stakeholders. Work will include attention to decentralisation; multi-sectoral rural development and development of support services which are demand driven and make optimal use of the private sector.


68. Internal partnerships between FAO technical units and decentralized multi-disciplinary teams will be essential. For action at national level, coordinated responses are required with UN system and CGIAR partners. FAO will also seek to provide the sectoral perspective to macro policy work of the IFIs. For policy choices and decision tools, FAO will join forces with academic or research institutes and NGOs. The international private sector may have interest in joint initiatives for local-level infrastructure and agri-business development.

C.2 Promote and facilitate use of technologies which contribute to sustainable intensification of production systems and ensure sufficient supplies of food and agricultural, fishery and forestry goods and services.

69. The strategy will address resource use management for sustainable, intensified and diversified production systems, including concerted action to reduce the gap between actual and potential yields at farm level, and measures to increase farmers' net income. FAO's role is seen as primarily that of synthesizer and disseminator of technologies, approaches and decision support tools, as well as being a proponent of particularly successful solutions. Technical and economic viability, the role of participation and the effective distribution of functions between the public and private sectors and community-based initiatives will be particularly important. The field programme, including the SPFS, and related follow-on investment will play an important role in demonstration and promulgation of successful approaches.

70. Work will include attention to integration of crops, livestock and trees in sustainable production systems, as well as assistance in reducing the gap between actual and potential production of crops and livestock. In both fisheries and forestry the introduction of best practices and participatory approaches into production management is also particularly important. The intention will be to encourage learning based management with links between knowledge and information systems at all levels and demand driven participatory knowledge generation.


71. FAO technical units and multi-disciplinary teams will primarily synthesize and transfer information, with clear value added, working with academia, the CGIAR and national research systems and other development agencies. NGOs are active partners in testing approaches locally. FAO will seek support from traditional funding sources as well as through innovative modalities such as South-South cooperation within the SPFS.

D. Supporting the conservation, improvement and sustainable utilization of land, water, fisheries, forest and genetic resources for food and agriculture.

The Challenge

72. Much of the impressive increase in food production which has occurred in recent decades is due to an intensification in the use of natural resources, in particular land and water but also forestry and fishery resources. In future, however, technologies which make more efficient - and sustainable - use of land and water resources must be the principal source of incremental food output.

73. While the production enhancing technologies of the future must pass the test of sustainability, safeguarding the sustainability of the world's food production systems remains a much broader issue. There has been an awakening over the past 10 to 20 years to the threats posed by over-exploitation of the world's marine resources, by the wholesale destruction of forests, by the growth in release of greenhouse gases, by the destruction of the ozone layer, by desertification and salinization, and by the erosion of biodiversity, but the full implications of these human-induced processes on world food supplies are not yet well understood and only limited action is being taken to curb them. A major challenge is, therefore, to ensure that adequate monitoring systems are in place to track the extent of destruction, that instruments are created to induce a more responsible use of global resources and that the means are mobilized to allow for the natural resources on which food supplies are dependent to be husbanded in a sustainable manner.

74. The global community committed itself to tackle these issues as part of Agenda 21, adopted at UNCED in 1992. In the World Food Summit Plan of Action it reaffirmed this commitment, recalling also a number of other international agreements and instruments concerned with the conservation and sustainable utilization of natural resources (land, water, fishery, forestry and genetic resources), and called upon international institutions to support the actions of governments and civil society. FAO, assigned a responsibility in this regard by its Constitution "to promote and, where appropriate, ...recommend national and international action with respect to... the conservation of natural resources and the adoption of improved methods of agricultural production," cannot fail to accord high priority to assisting members to meet the challenge.

75. In responses to the questionnaire, the two proposed specific "areas of FAO contribution" received strong support, with most countries seeing FAO's role as "central" or "major" . Only a handful of countries gave little support. On the basis of written comments attached to the questionnaire, this seemed generally traceable to the fact that for developed country respondents natural resources management was a national matter for which no assistance from FAO was required. Taking the above into account, two strategic objectives are proposed.

D.1 Assist in improving management of land, water, forestry, fisheries and genetic resources with a view to enhancing and sustainably utilizing the resource base for food and agriculture.

76. Improved management of natural resources is essential to developing a rational response to the continued degradation of and competition for agricultural, forestry and fisheries resources, including their genetic diversity. The strategy will involve identification and promotion of economically viable and environmentally sustainable, socially and culturally appropriate integrated resource management systems, in order to ensure conservation and efficient and safe use of the resources, of the genetic base and the environment.

77. This will require attention to the incorporation of rural development, population and gender issues, and to enhancement of national agricultural research, knowledge and information systems. It will also include guiding genetic resources management in order to address threats to biodiversity, and supporting farmer and community identification and use of appropriate land and water management practices.


78. All FAO units dealing with natural resources management will aim at integrated approaches. External partners include: IFIs, GEF, UNDP, UNESCO, UNEP, UNFPA, for funding support, information dissemination, joint work in awareness building and identification of solutions; the private sector and NGOs for specific initiatives; scientific institutions and the CGIAR, in particular TAC and NARS Secretariats.

D.2 Promote policies, capacity-building and action based on the recognition of the future private and social costs of natural resource degradation, and of the benefits of preservation and rehabilitation, with attention to the resources and environments at greatest risk.

79. It is not enough to identify and promote best practices in resource utilization and management. There is also a need in many countries, particularly in developing countries, to address resource and environmental issues in a way which minimizes the adverse effects and rising costs of resource degradation. In so doing, a balance needs to be sought between immediate human needs for food and livelihoods and the imperative of preserving the resource base for future generations.

80. The strategy would involve providing assistance to member countries who request it: in the development of holistic policies for conservation and rehabilitation, including addressing problems in fragile eco-systems; in building up institutional capacity for planning and implementation; and in the integration of sustainability concerns into national agricultural research in order to strengthen the scientific foundation for sound policy decisions. Particular emphasis would be placed on the facilitation of cross-sectoral linkages between relevant ministries and advanced research institutions, universities, NGOs, extension services, the private sector and farmers' organizations.


81. Internal contributions and external partnerships are similar to D1. Additional partners with expertise on specific policy or information aspects include other international or national agencies.

E. Making available a global information database, monitoring, assessing and analysing the global state of food and nutrition, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and promoting a central place for food security on the international agenda.

The Challenge

82. This work area derives its legitimacy first and foremost from the Basic Texts, specifically Article I of the Constitution. Moreover, the adoption of the Plan of Action of the World Food Summit, and the assignment of responsibility to FAO's Committee on World Food Security for the monitoring of progress in its implementation, add further to the Organization's responsibility for global monitoring and assessment of all aspects of food and agriculture and of progress towards achieving food security for all.

83. The analysis of external trends and forces identified a number of potential implications for FAO. The demand for information, both existing time series and new data elements, is forecast to continue to grow and to change, with an increasing requirement for information in support of policy advice, and to ensure that crucial emerging issues are authoritatively and forcefully placed upon the international agenda. This is particularly the case for natural resource assessment. Similarly, the growth in importance of regulatory frameworks brings with it a concomitant requirement for accessible information on the related standards and norms.

84. The internal analysis demonstrates that despite the success of the WAICENT project in consolidating FAO data in a single repository using common standards, FAO's ability as an Organization to protect the quality of the incoming statistical data is limited. There appears to be a decline in the quality of country level data collection systems which the Organization has limited capacity to correct. The internal analysis sees information as being one of FAO's greatest strengths: "an unparalleled source" - the risk is that the Organization could lose this important strength if it does not make determined efforts to capitalize on it and further expand and improve the quality of its data. In addition, concern is expressed that the traditional closed environment allowing only FAO approved and generated information on WAICENT and related systems may be excluding FAO from the more innovative information exchange networks now in place.

85. Both the external and internal analyses noted the probable increase in demand for FAO's analytical products and the opportunity this represented for the Organization to render services for which it was uniquely suited. A related, but separate, sphere in which FAO should further focus its efforts was that of global advocacy for food security and the achievement of the Summit's target, promotion of the necessary action and monitoring of progress.

86. The questionnaire results also demonstrate that these areas of work are accorded high priority by Members. Scoring highest was work concerning the analysis and assessment of trends where three-quarters of respondents considered this to be of the highest priority and essential. Next was the maintenance of an accurate and accessible global set of data which scored almost as high. The third area of work, which concerned the promotion of food security on the international agenda, had more balanced support between those who considered it to be of the highest priority and essential and those who rather saw it as being of high priority, to be addressed to the extent that resources permit.

87. FAO's role as a provider of services in the domain of assessments and analyses of trends, was considered of central importance to the global community by nearly 90% of respondents in responses to the questionnaire to date, the single most positive score accorded by Members to any of the questions. Predictably fewer countries seek FAO's assistance to do this work at the national level. FAO's role in the maintenance of an accurate and accessible global set of data also scored very high with three-quarters of Members responding indicating that they considered it to be of central importance, while in the case of promotion of food security on the international agenda, two-thirds considered that FAO's role was of central importance. Three strategic objectives are proposed.

E.1 Ensure that a global set of food and nutrition, agricultural, fishery and forestry data, is (a) comprehensive and includes all pertinent data, through an inter-linked information system with a wide range of partners; (b) is reliable, accurate, current and consistent; and (c) is disseminated to all Members and accessible to the international community and the public at large.

88. A common purpose is to ensure that Members and civil society have access to and the capacity to utilize data for informed decision making, policy development and effective monitoring of policy implementation. There is an emphasis on seeing data in cross-sectoral terms where considerable value is added by the juxtaposition of information from different disciplines.

89. The strategy would include the following elements:


90. WAICENT mobilizes contributions from all technical departments with strong support from AF and GI for infrastructure, communication and public information know-how to make FAO data systems responsive to clients. External partnerships are very broad: donors and IFIs to strengthen local data collection; other UN organizations, CGIAR, NGOs and regional bodies for active exchanges of information.

E.2 Provide regular assessments of current and prospective food supplies, and outlook for developments in food security and nutrition, agriculture, fisheries, forestry, natural resources and scientific knowledge with a view to ensuring that Members are well informed of the situation, perspectives and lessons learned, and drawing the attention of the international community to areas needing action.

91. This important strategic objective for FAO as a provider of global assessments and analyses includes major outputs such as Agriculture Towards 2015, the State of Food and Agriculture, the State of World Fisheries and the State of the World's Forests. It covers the need to address a broad range of issues, including:  
92. In addressing these areas, emphasis will be given to the need to identify emerging issues requiring action on a timely basis. Dissemination of FAO assessments needs to be supported by professional expertise in publicizing the issues to stimulate awareness and action by the international community.


93. This objective requires strong internal links to make assessments and analyses comprehensive. External partnerships are numerous, as FAO analytical work depends upon data or inputs from the IFIs, other UN organizations or specialist organizations and academic institutions.

E.3 Maintain the focus on food security through monitoring and reporting on implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action, and cooperating with all partners, including in civil society, in follow-up to the Summit.

94. The World Food Summit's conclusions cover the range of "coordinated efforts and shared responsibilities" essential to attain its objectives, and assign to the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) responsibility for monitoring implementation of the Plan of Action. FAO provides the secretariat for the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and therefore has a major responsibility to collect and analyze information from all sources to facilitate the monitoring task of the CFS.

95. Assistance to countries to follow up global conferences and summits is provided within a UN system-wide framework, and the major thrust of FAO's action, in cooperation with IFAD and WFP, will be to optimise the synergy between UN partners in follow up the World Food Summit through the ACC Network on Rural Development and Food Security. The strategy will build on these interrelated efforts also to raise awareness of food security issues in both governments and civil society, drawing on all means at FAO's disposal and relying on both general and specialized media to support the effort. World Food Day and national Food for All Campaigns involving all sectors of civil society will have a special role to play.


96. All FAO units are mobilized for advocacy work and in support of the WFS Plan of Action. External partnerships mirror those established for Summit preparations, with the addition of those involved in new initiatives such as FIVIMS and the ACC Network.


97. In addition to developing substantive strategies, several cross-organizational issues also require attention. This part deals with a synthesis of these issues and proposes, at a relatively high level, strategies for dealing with them.

A. Ensuring Excellence

The Issue

98. At a time of decreasing resources, coupled with the presence of many institutions working in areas touching on FAO's mandate, the Organization runs the risk of not being seen as the unique source of information, advice and assistance, hence not always being perceived as the most authoritative.

99. On the other hand, FAO is in a unique position to build on its existing strengths including the wide range of disciplines under a single roof, fifty years of accumulated experience, its human and technical presence in many countries, its well-recognized and widely accepted independence and its world wide coverage.

100. It is therefore essential to choose those areas in which FAO expects to be able to maintain technical leadership and ensure the required action to enhance the capacity for excellence. A corollary is that wherever FAO is not the "lead" player, its activities need to be planned in the light of others' work, to minimize overlap. In both cases, partnerships and alliances, based on clear divisions of labour, must be strengthened.

101. The internal analysis highlighted the need to keep technical staff up-to-date with cutting edge developments in their respective disciplines. It also yielded the strong suggestion that the Organization should further sharpen its focus on certain priority areas, in which it could, with recognized authority, take the initiative, propose collective action and exercise leadership (but not exclusivity) in implementing concrete programmes. The analysis of the external environment points to many areas in which FAO may need to strengthen its capacity to meet new needs (e.g. biotechnology).

102. Among the criteria suggested for choosing major thrusts were that the issue should be within FAO's mandate and capacity, that it should have transboundary implications and the potential for agreements to support international action, that there should be a clear and growing demand for work on it and that FAO would have a clear competitive edge in dealing with it, due to its unique character and strengths.


103. The proposed strategy to enhance FAO's capacity for excellence is to:

  1. evaluate each technical area and/or major problem with a view to determining whether FAO is or has the potential for being a centre of excellence, using an agreed set of criteria;
  2. select an appropriate number of key areas where FAO has a good chance at either reaching or maintaining this status;
  3. address the question in all its dimensions (the information base, normative and policy aspects, practical action);
  4. put in place attendant measures for human resource development (including accelerated programmes of technical staff development) and to ensure quality control of outputs; and
  5. as resources permit, ensure a built-in component of "organizational learning" to guarantee continuous review and adjustment in the light of results.

B. Enhancing Inter-disciplinarity

The Issue

104. Inter-disciplinary approaches are clear pre-requisites to successful and sustainable agricultural and rural development. In fact, the review of "successful" activities undertaken by the technical departments often revealed activities with a strong inter-disciplinary approach and, in several cases, attributed their success to that fact (e.g. AT 2010). This presents two fundamental challenges for the Organization:

105. This issue also has to be seen in the broader UN system context, as FAO is itself a sectoral agency which needs to ensure that its development efforts are a part of the broader inter-sectoral effort of the UN (see also section on Broadening Partnerships and Alliances).

106. The internal analysis confirmed the need to improve programme planning methodologies in recognition of the fact that the work of the Organization needs more strategic orientation.


107. The proposed strategy would be to:

  1. strengthen the institutional capacity to define and analyze cross-sectoral problems, and to formulate goals and strategies in an inter-disciplinary manner, especially through the present strategic planning process;
  2. explicitly allow for cross programme planning as part of the preparation of the Medium-Term Plan with six year objectives;
  3. strengthen the relationship between plans for HQ units and those for decentralized units;
  4. introduce indicators of success which properly reflect FAO's contribution to planned outcomes; and
  5. enhance existing inter-departmental mechanisms to put greater emphasis on the cross-sectoral aspects of programme implementation and facilitate also intra-departmental cooperation - both between and within divisions.

C. Broadening Partnerships and Alliances

The Issue

108. FAO is first and foremost a member of the United Nations family of organizations, and the partnerships which derive from this status and which constitute an important comparative advantage, need to be broadened and strengthened. At the same time, the changing global context requires that further partnerships or strategic alliances must be developed with important actors both state and non-state outside the UN system, in order to ensure complementarity, reduced fragmentation of action, greater leverage on policy issues and cost-savings.

109. The analysis of the external environment stressed the role of an enhanced UN system to effectively address multi-sectoral problems. Global conferences and summits, including the World Food Summit, have had a major impact on the way in which goals, strategies and the development agenda are defined by the international community. UN organizations' action to help countries translate commitments, particularly those taken within the framework of international conventions and follow-up to UNCED, into practical action must capitalize on the wealth of expertise and potential for synergy inherent in the system.

110. FAO will need to maintain its proactive role in ensuring a coherent UN system approach to implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action, as well as continuing and strengthening its contribution to the follow-up of other major conferences and participating in other system-wide initiatives. Special attention also needs to be paid to further strengthening the links, and potential for synergy, among the Rome-based organizations--FAO, WFP, IFAD and IPGRI.

111. Account must also be taken of the significant changes which have taken place or will occur in the respective roles and responsibilities of the state, the market and civil society. FAO needs to build constructive and effective relations and partnerships with non-state actors, based on its own and their comparative advantages.

112. In the internal analysis, it was noted that FAO has decades of experience and institutional memory in relations with non-governmental organizations working in its spheres of competence, particularly rural producers' organizations, and strong links with some private sector organizations, notably in the food industry. The Governing Bodies have already endorsed the policy of strengthening cooperation with both civil society organizations and the private sector, but the modalities for such cooperation, in the light of the changing overall context, require further development.


113. The elements of the strategy of strengthening partnerships within the UN system will be:

  1. to remain an active partner in inter-agency work from the policy level down to the country level. At the decentralized level, FAO should continue to cooperate with sister organizations within the framework of the Resident Coordinator system;
  2. to maintain task manager responsibility, in cooperation with IFAD and WFP, in running the ACC Network on Rural Development and Food Security, in support of implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action;
  3. to continue to contribute to inter-agency and inter-governmental action to follow up other major conferences and summits, and to further develop "bilateral" cooperation and joint work with individual organizations;
  4. to remain also an active partner of funding programmes such as UNDP, UNFPA, etc. in responding to requests by recipient countries, and in participating as a full-fledged partner in local level programming exercises;
  5. to further strengthen cooperation with the IFIs, building on their readiness to seek a broader base of cooperation with FAO, as evidenced by new memoranda of understanding signed with them at the highest policy level; and
  6. to ensure closer cooperation with the CGIAR through the established institutional links and close contact and joint activities with the individual centres themselves.

114. The strategy aimed at broadening partnerships with civil society and non-governmental organizations would involve five components:

  1. information sharing and cooperation with technical and regional NGO networks to improve two-way exchange of information;
  2. policy dialogue at country, regional and global levels, including improved access to FAO technical meetings;
  3. promotion of the Food for All Campaign National Committees; and
  4. specific cooperative programmes, i.e. by improving Civil Society Organizations' (CSOs) participation in planning, formulation and implementation of specific programmes and projects, with particular attention to the SPFS; by fostering capacity building for CSOs; and working with CSOs in agricultural rehabilitation efforts; and
  5. resource mobilization, by increasing the attractiveness of FAO programmes to multilateral and bilateral donors which attach importance to CSO participation; seeking to have a strategic influence on how CSOs/NGOs use the resources they themselves invest in agricultural development and food security programmes.

115. The strategy for the private sector would be to act along the following lines:

  1. enter into dialogue to remove any misconceptions that may exist with respect to an institution such as FAO, and also to get a clear understanding of agri-business interests which would be compatible with FAO's objectives;
  2. explore with the private sector how investments in new technology can be steered to bring greater benefit to developing countries;
  3. mobilize private sector resources in support of FAO programmes, including both fund raising through sponsorships and revenues from FAO services rendered to the private sector, as well as coalitions and bilateral projects with the private sector;
  4. FAO to play an "honest broker" role in increasing private sector investment in agriculture;
  5. enhancement of the capacities of the private sector in developing countries, especially in providing effective market services; and
  6. creation of a corporate policy and practice within FAO with regard to private sector partners.
  7. D. Continuing to Improve the Management Process

    The Issue

    116. The internal analysis identified a number of areas where further improvement could be made in various aspects of the management processes. In all cases, work is already underway to respond to these aspects but, for completeness, this issue is addressed below.

    117. FAO needs to provide cost-effective and responsive services in a more competitive environment, if it is not to be marginalized by private sector and non-governmental service providers which may not have an equivalent breadth and depth of technical expertise, but which are capable of moving with greater speed and flexibility. Two key areas have been identified: human resource management and systems support to the management process.

    118. Human resources are the essence of any service institution. In the case of FAO they make up 84.5% of the Regular Budget including staff (68.4%) and Other Human Resources (16.1%). The fundamental challenge is to optimise the planning, recruitment/acquisition, management and development of these resources, in order to attract and retain staff of the calibre required to ensure its continued functioning as a centre of excellence. During the coming 15 years a staff turnover of 70% is projected, providing an opportunity to ensure that the Organization acquires and/or strengthens the skills and competencies required to face the challenges of the future.

    119. Moreover, the internal analysis pointed to a number of areas where there would appear to be a need for further improvement in the near term:

    1. continued difficulties in recruitment of qualified staff ;
    2. lack of flexibility in being able to concentrate human resources at short notice on a given task;
    3. need for a more effective performance management system linked to achievement of programme objectives; and
    4. staff concerns about career planning, skills development, more flexible working arrangements, and occupational health and safety issues.

    120. In seeking solutions to immediate problems and establishing the basis for addressing the longer-term questions, FAO needs to keep in mind the principles on which the International Civil Service was founded when the UN Charter was signed. Moreover, it must continue to pursue the achievement of equitable geographical distribution, in line with its Basic Texts. Expansion of cooperation with other organizations applying the UN Common System of Salaries and Allowances, already very strong, would be an invaluable adjunct and support, particularly as part of measures to permit career development within the International Civil Service.

    121. Finally, it is committed, in the words of the recent ACC statement on Gender Equality and Mainstreaming in the work of the United Nations system, to ensuring that "the institutional culture is both gender-sensitive and gender-responsive, and that ...staff policies, programme budgets and resource allocations reflect (its) commitment to gender equality goals."

    122. As regards systems support to the management process and its impact upon streamlining of procedures and upon the flow of management information, the internal analysis revealed concern about a number of areas:

    123. However, it needs to be emphasized that the other side of the same coin is the effectiveness of FAO's financial control and management. The internal analysis also took note of the fact that the Organization has never had its accounts qualified, it has always managed its resources within approved budget limits and has never suffered a serious financial default. Therefore care has to be taken so that, in improving efficiency and streamlining, this great strength - one which is much valued by donors who consign their resources under trust to FAO - is not lost.


    124. Most of the elements of the following strategy are effectively in the process of being implemented.

    125. Under human resources management:

    1. add flexibility to human resource planning and management including further streamlining of contractual arrangements for non staff human resources;
    2. introduce indicators of success which properly reflect FAO's contribution to planned outcomes but which are also compatible with performance management procedures;
    3. develop human resources management plans to match programme requirements through timely recruitment and staff development, including training in new office technologies;
    4. consider the introduction of more flexible work arrangements;
    5. strengthen management practices in the human resources areas, including through further management training and development;
    6. create the enabling environment which can foster innovation, initiative and teamwork; and
    7. continue to foster effective staff-management collaboration through consultation with staff, including consultation with the staff associations on the conditions of employment.

    126. Under systems support to the management process, the strategy is to develop a management information system and planning, budget, human resource and financial accounting systems which better meet the management needs of the institution while enabling procedural streamlining and enhanced management information.

    E. Leveraging Resources for FAO and its Members

    The Issue

    127. FAO's capacity to perform its mission is conditioned by tightening availability of resources, both of core funds for the Regular Programme of Work and of extra-budgetary contributions for technical assistance. What is not clear is the future trend for resources. Will the pendulum swing back in favour of the multilateral international organizations as governments and the public at large appreciate the unique services provided by these institutions?

    128. The consequence, should resources continue to stagnate, will be an increased gap between the expectations generated by the mandate and the capacity of the institution to fulfil them.


    129. The proposed strategy is to increase the leverage of resources in support of FAO's mandated functions through efficient and effective programme management; effective targeting of its work to the FAO priority areas of interest to donors, consolidation and expansion of funding sources and promotion of a positive perception by the public and governments of the work of FAO.

    130. In developing the strategy, the emphasis is on expanding the total resources applied to the programmes espoused by the Organization and not necessarily on the amount of resources managed by FAO. In this regard, a key aspect will be mobilizing domestic and external resources for the agricultural and rural sector, including preparation of investment programmes and projects associating all stakeholders at national and international level, so as to ensure proper follow-up in terms of local commitment and financing by major multilateral donors.

    Programme design, efficiency and effectiveness

    131. In the case of the Regular Programme of Work, the approach is to improve programme management so that Governments are convinced of the validity of FAO's activities and focus (see section on Enhancing Inter-disciplinarity).

    132. For technical assistance and investment programmes, the concentration will be on formulation, efficiency and timeliness and will involve:

    1. ensuring adequate resources for well considered programme and project formulation;
    2. wider application of effective systems (i) to permit monitoring of cost of supporting different types of projects, as well as (ii) to systematically track shortcomings in implementation performance;
    3. a corporate culture to create a "client-first" mentality, especially to meet the expectations of donors, whether institutional or private;
    4. continuing efficiency savings with a view to reducing the cost of supporting field programmes and placing FAO in a better position to compete for resources, and
    5. strengthening of the current country focus system, based on the FAORs and the decentralized TCA/TCO groups.

    Targeting of programmes

    133. For the Regular Programme, targeting is inherently achieved through the strategic and medium-term planning processes. However, donors should be positively encouraged to support activities of the Regular Programme so as to increase the total level of resources made available to satisfy the performance of the normative functions implied by FAO's mandate while avoiding undue influence of such donors on the resulting normative outputs.

    134. For the field programme, the priorities should be firstly to support FAO pilot programmes aimed at testing and proving FAO normative hypotheses; and secondly sound programme and project formulation. In order to ensure the maximum effect on the ground of FAO's field activities, as well as much of its normative work, the Organization's important investment promotion and preparation function should continue to be strengthened. Besides increasing the mobilization of multilateral funds from official sources such as the IFIs for agricultural and rural development, in particular in support of food security, efforts should be reinforced to influence the flow of national public funds, as well as international and domestic private funds and savings into rural sector investments. FAO is unique among UN organizations in having a strong and well-proven investment follow-up mechanism. This should be fully exploited to ensure the widest possible impact of the Organization's work in member developing countries.

    Consolidation and expansion of funding sources

    135. Besides the current range of instruments to reach out to the traditional donor community, FAO would:

    1. strengthen the dialogue with newly emerging developing countries, e.g. in Asia and in Latin America, willing to support development cooperation and to use FAO as channel, in particular for countries in the same regions;
    2. encourage governments of advanced developing countries to use FAO as conduit for technology transfer and know-how acquisition to be funded from their own resources or from the proceed of loans under UTF arrangements;
    3. mobilize donations from private individuals;
    4. further strengthen the partnership programmes FAO has put in place since 1994 and develop new partnerships with the private sector and private foundations that will increase the leveraging effect of FAO's own resources; and;
    5. act as facilitator for emerging cooperation between municipalities and other regional entities of both developed and developing countries.

    Perception of FAO's work

    136. Although there is pressure to minimize the proportion of limited resources which is applied to information and communication activities, it seems necessary that the strategy for leveraging of resources include investment in influencing public opinion. FAO can no longer rely on the influence of a knowledgeable few to sell the added value of the Organization to others. The media is increasingly questioning UN organizations and there appear to be few organized constituencies and political interest groups prepared to defend these institutions.

    137. The following elements are proposed:

    1. set aside resources under each strategic goal for information and communication activities aimed at ensuring that stakeholders are informed and supportive of FAO's actions;
    2. reach out directly to civil society and the general public to raise awareness and understanding of the issues related to food security - this would include uses of all branches of the media as a channel to communicate key messages on the theme of food security and promote the important role of FAO in helping countries to achieve the goals of the Word Food Summit; and
    3. pursue World Food Day and TeleFood as means for heightening public awareness and generation of resources for food security and agricultural and rural development work.


    ACC Administrative Committee on Coordination
    AF Administration and Finance Department (FAO)
    CFS Committee on World Food Security (FAO)
    CGIAR Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research
    CSO Civil Society Organization
    EMPRES Emergency Prevention System for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases (FAO)
    FAOR FAO Representative
    FIVIMS Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information Mapping System
    GI General Affairs and Information Department (FAO)
    GEF Global Environment Facility
    GIEWS Global Information and Early Warning System (FAO)
    IFAD International Fund for Agricultural Development
    IFI International Financing Institution
    ILO International Labour Office
    IMF International Monetary Fund
    IPGRI International Plant Genetic Resources Institute
    NARS National Agricultural Research System
    NGO Non-Governmental Organization
    ODA Official Development Assistance
    OECD Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
    SPFS Special Programme for Food Security (FAO)
    TAC Technical Advisory Committee (CGIAR)
    TCA Policy Assistance Division (FAO)
    TCO Field Operations Division (FAO)
    UNCED United Nations Conference on Environment and Development
    UNCTAD United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
    UNDP United Nations Development Programme
    UNESCO United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
    UNEP United Nations Environment Programme
    UNFPA United Nations Population Fund
    UNIDO United Nations Industrial Development Organization
    UN/OCHA United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan
    UTF Unilateral Trust Fund
    WAICENT World Agriculture Information Centre (FAO)
    WFP World Food Programme
    WFS World Food Summit
    WHO World Health Organization
    WTO World Trade Organization

    Annex I:

    Sequence of Events Leading to the Approval and Publication of

    Activity Participants Schedule
    Preparation of a Draft Strategic Framework Secretariat Jan-July 1998
    Report on Progress Secretariat and PC/FC April 1998 for PC/FC May 1998
    Issuance of Questionnaire to Member Nations on Strategic Priorities Secretariat June 1998
    Completion and return of Questionnaire Member Nations Early July 1998
    Analysis of Questionnaire and incorporation of results Secretariat July 1998
    First Draft Strategic Framework (Version 1.0) Secretariat and PC/FC July 1998 for PC/FC Sep 1998
    Consultation with other partners ( e.g. UN system, IFIs, CGIAR, NGOs, Civil Society, etc.) Secretariat and Partners July 1998 to 

    Nov 1998

    Consider the Draft Strategic Framework (Version 1.0) and the Reports of the PC and FC Council Nov 1998
    Amend Strategic Framework to reflect outcome of the Council and consultations with partners Secretariat  Dec 1998.
    Revised Draft Strategic Framework (Version1.0 and 2.0) to 

    CCP for consultation

    CCP Jan 1999
    Revised Draft Strategic Framework (Version 1.0 and 2.0) to COAG for consultation COAG Jan 1999
    Revised Draft Strategic Framework (Version 1.0 and 2.0) to COFI for consultation COFI Feb 1999
    Revised Draft Strategic Framework (Version 1.0 and 2.0) to COFO for consultation COFO Mar 1999
    Amend Strategic Framework to reflect outcome of Technical Committees Secretariat April 1999
    Revised Strategic Framework (Version 3.0) to PC/FC for consultation PC/FC May 1999
    Consider the Draft Strategic Framework (Version 3.0) and the Reports of the PC and FC Council June 1999
    Final Revision of Draft Strategic Framework (Version 4.0) for submission to CL and Conference for approval Secretariat Aug 1999
    Review by PC/FC PC/FC Sept 1999
    Review by CL (along with PC/FC Reports) CL Nov 1999
    Review and approval by Conference (along with CL and PC/FC Reports) Conference Nov 1999
    Publication of Approved FAO 2000 Strategic Framework (2000-2015) with distribution to members and partners Secretariat Jan 2000

    Annex II: