Hundred and sixteenth Session
Rome, 14 - 19 June 1999
REPORT OF THE JOINT MEETING
MATTERS REQUIRING ATTENTION BY THE COUNCIL
REPORT OF THE JOINT MEETING OF THE PROGRAME AND FINANCE COMMITTEES
ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA AND TIMETABLE
FAO STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK 2000-2015
SUMMARY PRORGRAMME OF WORK AND BUDGET 2000-2001
CHANGE IN THE QUOTA DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM OF INFORMATION PRODUCTS
SAVINGS AND EFFICIENCIES IN GOVERNANCE
Final Report on Implementation of Conference Resolution 13/97:
Review of FAO Statutory Bodies
Implications of Scheduling Separate Meetings for Ministers during Conference
MATTERS REQUIRING ATTENTION BY THE COUNCIL
Report of the Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees
Matters requiring discussion and/or decision
|FAO Strategic Framework 2000-2015
Summary Progamme of Work and Budget 2000-2001
Change in the Quota Distribution System of Information Products
Savings and Efficiencies in Governance:
- Implications of Scheduling Separate Meetings for Ministers during
Matters for information
Report on Decentralization
Savings and Efficiencies in Governance:
- Final Report on Implementation of Conference Resolution 13/97:
Improvements in the FAO Recruitment Process
6 - 13
14 - 21
24 - 25
27 - 31
Rome, 5 May 1999
1. The Committees submit to the Council the following report of their Joint Meeting.
2. The following members were present at the meeting:
|Mr D.F.R. Bommer (Germany)||Mr J.A. Thomas (South Africa)|
|Mr P.N. Ross (Australia)
Mr R. Rose (Canada)
Mr G. Redai (Ethiopia)
Mr E. Kitahara (Japan)
Mr G. Mansour (Lebanon)
Mr M.M. Seghayer (Libya)
Mr P. Paredes Portella (Peru)
Ms M.R. Castillo (Philippines)
Mr V. Moe (Trinidad and Tobago)
Ms S. Nyamudeza (Zimbabwe)
|Mr R.O. Villambrosa (Argentina)
Mr K.P. Fabian (India)
Mr L.M. Fontana-Giusti (Italy)
Mr H. Maltez (Panama)
Mr L. Micek (Slovak Republic)
Ms E.F. Eltom (Sudan)
Ms L.J. Tracy (USA)
3. Mr. S. Baharsjah, the Independent Chairman of the Council, was present at the meeting.
4. Mr. M.T.A. Samba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and member of the Finance Committee was not present at the meeting.
5. The Agenda and Timetable for the Joint Meeting were approved with the addition of an item on: Improvements in the FAO Recruitment Process.
6. The Committees noted that Version 3.0 which took into account the comments made by Members and FAO partners was a major improvement over earlier versions.
7. The Committees agreed that Part I - Overall Strategic Framework set the stage for the corporate strategies and strategic objectives proposed in Part II. While supporting the content of this part, which addressed FAO's purpose and the impact of the World Food Summit, and contained statements of global goals, values, mission and vision for the Organization, they looked forward to an even crisper formulation in Version 4.0.
8. The Committees stressed again the importance of Part II, which presented Strategies to Address Members' Needs and Cross-Organizational Issues. They reiterated the need to aim for a more focused text in Version 4.0, which would require fewer and clustering of strategy elements, ensuring coherence and consistency in presentation of fully inter-disciplinary strategies, and taking into account the amendments proposed by Members. The Committees briefly addressed the suggestions made in the Programme Committee regarding an alternative sequence for the strategies, but did not reach any definitive conclusions.
9. The Committees welcomed the addition of Part III - Implementation Programme for the Strategic Framework, which covered inter alia key concepts such as criteria for priority-setting and FAO's comparative advantages, and made explicit the intended role of the Strategic Framework in the broader process of improvement of programming arrangements in FAO. Stress was placed on the importance of further work aiming at refinement of the criteria and definition of comparative advantages, to facilitate application of these concepts in specific situations. The need for the introduction of a grading system was emphasized. The need to show the linkages and maintain the appropriate balance between normative and field activities was also emphasized.
10. The Committees observed that Annex IV: Regional Perspectives should be considered tentative at this stage, as it deserved improvement in the light of further comments to be received from Members individually or from the various regional groups. In this respect, the representatives of the Latin American and Caribbean Group indicated that the Rome-based group would be presenting a contribution.
11. Whilst many members emphasized the importance of adequate resources to support the implementation of the proposed strategies, others recalled that the Strategic Framework was expected to be "resource-neutral" in setting the context and the broad directions of FAO's work over the long-term.
12. In the light of the above recommendations, the Committees agreed that Version 4.0 should be as concise as possible, in order to enhance its impact on policy and to facilitate consideration and wide dissemination. The Secretariat was invited to explore ways to present supporting material as a supplement to the document itself.
13. In the course of the Committees' discussion on this agenda item, a reference was made to the development of an Alliance for Agricultural Development.
14. Following reports from the Chairmen of the two Committees on the results of separate discussions, the Committees jointly addressed the Summary Programme of Work and Budget 2000-2001.
15. The Committees recalled that the Summary PWB proposals had been presented within a Zero Real Growth (ZRG) approach. The document also included a Real Growth scenario, with activities involving US$ 22.6 million beyond ZRG.
16. During the discussion, members of the Committees expressed or reiterated their preference as to the budget level for the next biennium, without prejudice to the final decision of the Conference.
17. Many members supported resumption of real growth for FAO, which they considered was fully justified by the continuing adverse trend in the number of food insecure, the expanding requirements of the Membership and the consequent heavy demands placed on the Organization. These members had made known previously their preference for real growth. They also felt that it would be consistent with expectations in the wake of the World Food Summit to put an end to the protracted period of reduction of resources in real terms. They, therefore, endorsed the Real Growth proposals. One member expressed support for the ZRG option.
18. Several members expressed their disappointment at the absence of a Zero Nominal Growth (ZNG) scenario. Some of these members had made known previously their preference for this budget level. The Committees stressed the need to enlighten the Membership about the impact of this scenario. Some favoured ZNG, which their governments pursued as a general policy throughout the UN system. They stressed that the economic and budgetary difficulties experienced in countries should be matched by corresponding restraint by international organizations. Many members drew attention to the importance of addressing the persistent problem of arrears.
19. The Secretariat explained its difficulties in developing a ZNG budget scenario in a thorough manner, in the time available before the Hundred-and-Sixteenth Session of the Council. The Committees asked the Secretariat to prepare a preliminary outline document for the next Council addressing such a ZNG scenario. They were informed that a complete and fully substantiated ZNG scenario would be provided in the full PWB document planned to be issued in August. The Secretariat was requested to take account in the preparation of the document of the latest developments affecting the likely cost increases for the next biennium, and the impact of current Italian Lira/US$ exchange rates. In this context the Secretariat should identify the implications for the normal operations of FAO with reference to programmes, projects and staff.
20. While recognizing that the above range of opinions precluded the formulation of a consensus position at this stage, the Committees urged that dialogue without prejudice and in a flexible, constructive manner should continue among the Membership in order to seek to bridge the present differences.
21. The Committees noted that the Summary Programme of Work and Budget 2000-2001 did not clarify which of the new priorities of the Membership had been reflected in the preparation of the ZRG scenario, and requested that a table be presented to the Council outlining the priorities which the Director-General had been able to accommodate.
22. The Committees welcomed the information provided in document JM 99/1 Report on Decentralization in response to queries from the Programme and Finance Committees and the Council. The Committees recalled that the present decentralization policy had been approved by the Council at its One Hundred and Sixth Session and confirmed their support for this policy.
23. They noted that document JM 99/1 described the implementation of this policy and expressed general appreciation for the savings so far achieved in the decentralization process. Some delegates requested and received further clarifications on the roles and relationship between components on the decentralized network, on staffing, the devolution of authorities and related aspects. The importance of appraising the impact of country offices was discussed.
24. The Committees took note of the proposal to change the quota distribution system of information products contained in document JM 99/2 and the comments of the Finance Committee on this matter.
25. The Committees supported the proposal in principle and recommended its approval by Council given the need to introduce a reduced quota distribution system aimed at a more efficient, targeted and equitable dissemination of FAO's publications. They requested that the Secretariat produce for the consideration of Council, a costed proposal giving options for a quota distribution of publications based on a free distribution of either five or ten copies and a discounted sales price in the first instance of 80% for developing and 20% for developed countries and in the second, for a discount of 60% and 40% for developing and developed countries respectively.
26. The Committees noted the Final Report on Implementation of Conference Resolution 13/97, outlining action already taken for abolishing numerous statutory bodies and subsidiary bodies, which indicated the need to retain 8 subsidiary bodies initially earmarked for abolition. The Committees congratulated the Secretariat on the action taken to abolish a substantial number of statutory bodies.
27. At the Hundred-and-Fifteenth Session of the Council there was general agreement that it would be desirable to achieve greater interaction among Ministers during Conference Sessions. The Council had also requested that a paper on the financial and scheduling implications of arranging for separate but simultaneous meetings at which Ministers could address selected topics be submitted to the Joint Meeting at its May 1999 Session.
28. The Committees examined a paper which had been prepared on the assumption that three separate meetings would be held simultaneously on different topics selected by Council, with the attendance of Ministers who could interact on such topics. The Committees noted that the estimated additional cost of the Conference would be between $66 000 and $76 000. The Committees were informed of the implications of scheduling the additional meetings for the timetable and programme of work of the Conference, in view of its reduced duration.
29. The Committees felt that there was a need to better focus the General Debate. In this respect, there was general agreement that the General Debate, consisting of statements by Heads of Delegation, should continue to be held as structured at present. However, the Committees suggested that the June session of the Council select specific topics in the context of the world food situation, on which Heads of Delegation might base their statements.
30. In addition, and on an experimental basis, the Committees recommended that half a day be set aside as early as possible in the Conference for Ministers to discuss a subject of common interest. The timing and the subject of the meeting should be proposed by the Council in June. This meeting would take place instead of the General Debate in Plenary on that day only. In order to facilitate the free flow of ideas and exchange of views, the proceedings of this meeting would not be reflected in the Report of the Conference. The Committees requested the Secretariat to prepare a document explaining the implications of this proposal for presentation to the Council.
31. The Committees undertook to review the experience gained with this session at their first Joint Meeting after the Thirtieth Session of the Conference, in May 2000.
32. The Committees welcomed the information provided in document FC 92/10 and the additional information provided by Personnel Division. The Committees were informed that the Organization had implemented all the measures introduced to speed up the recruitment process and that a target time frame of 24 weeks had been established. The Committees appreciated that the 24 weeks target was a realistic one and would represent a significant improvement over past practices.
1 Document: JM 99/INF/1
2 Document: CL 116/12; JM 99/INF/2
3 Document: CL 116/3
4 Document: JM 99/1
5 Document: JM 99/2
6 Document: CL 116/INF/16
7 Document: JM 99/3
8 Document: FC 92/10