Sixteenth Session

Rome, 26-30 March 2001, Red Room



1. Election of Chairman and Vice-Chairmen

2. Adoption of Agenda and Timetable for the Session


3. Programme Implementation Report 1998-99

4. Medium-Term Plan 2002-2007

The FAO Conference decided at its sessions of 1997 and 1999, to introduce an enhanced programme-budget process in the Organization. One of the key features of this process is the preparation and submission of a revamped Medium-term Plan 2002-2007 (MTP), building on the Strategic Framework (SF) document covering the period 2000-2015, approved by the FAO Conference in November 1999. This Medium-term Plan has been submitted to the FAO Council at its session of November 2000 for broad endorsement, prior to the formulation of detailed Programme and Budget proposals. The Council, nevertheless, expects the appropriate Technical Committees, such as COAG, to provide substantive advice from the perspective of their respective sectors.

Therefore, COAG (together with the Committees on Fisheries and Forestry) is invited to comment on the MTP contents, focusing on the range of activities falling under its mandate. In doing this, the Committee may wish to note the links with the discussion of other substantive items on its agenda. Given timing constraints, it will not be possible to also provide advance information on PWB proposals. However, in discussing the MTP, COAG may wish to suggest priorities, which can be considered in preparing the PWB.


5. Climate Variability and Change: A Challenge for Sustainable Agricultural Production

Climate Change and Variability clearly cuts across disciplinary boundaries and will require an interdepartmental, coordinated response from the Organization. Therefore the selected issues will be discussed at both COAG and COFO.

The paper briefly discusses the losses associated with the chronic deficiencies of climate, and the potential impacts of climate change on natural and managed ecosystems; two important factors contributing towards current and future food insecurity. It then reviews the past and ongoing activities of FAO in the broad area of climate, stressing the importance of data and statistics for production potential and impact assessments and the methodological links between climate variability and change.

The resolutions and decisions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Kyoto Protocol (KP)1 relevant to AG, ES, FI and FO are appraised. The emphasis is on the benefits which countries might derive from the Commitments and Mechanisms in terms of increased and more regular production, and development assistance.

The paper seeks the advice of COAG, as to the development and orientation of the climate program of FAO in general. This includes improved management of current climate resources, the level of involvement of FAO in the UNFCCC negotiation process, the emphasis to be given to the development of adaptation strategies and of mitigation techniques for agricultural green-house gas emissions, carbon sequestration, etc. In parallel, there is a need to analyse implications of the above for internal institutional arrangements and collaboration with UN partners, national and international agricultural research and other institutions.

6. Reducing Agricultural Vulnerability to Storm-related Disasters

The paper focuses on improving preparedness for storm-related disasters. FAO is building up a substantial body of work on this topic.

The drain on international humanitarian assistance capacity could be substantial if no action is taken in advance to avert the worst effects of such disasters. Although the precise timing and location of such events cannot be foreseen far in advance, the locations where there is a high probability of such events occurring is known, and damaging effects can often be prevented, or at least significantly reduced, by appropriate preparedness measures. Many of these measures involve actions related to land, water, crop and livestock management, and to strengthening of rural institutions to better cope with storm-related disasters. Thus FAO can and should become a major player in the international effort to prepare for such disasters, and prevent or mitigate their adverse effects.

COAG is asked to discuss the significance of recent experience with sudden natural disasters, and to decide on priorities for stepped-up FAO action to prepare for and prevent food and agricultural emergencies arising from storm-related natural disasters.

7. The Place of Agriculture in Sustainable Development: The Way Forward on SARD

FAO played a pivotal role in catalysing the strategic thinking that led in 1992 to UNCED's intergovernmental agreements on goals related to Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) and on Integrated Land Management that underpins SARD. These two themes are elaborated in Chapters 14 and 10, respectively of Agenda 21, for which FAO is the UN Task Manager.

The UN General Assembly recently emphasised the importance of continued active and collaborative involvement of all relevant bodies of the UN system in the implementation of Agenda 21. It called for a 10-year review of progress achieved in the implementation of the outcome of UNCED-1992 to culminate at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio+10) to be held in 2002 in South Africa. It seems appropriate that COAG, as FAO's main technical body on agriculture, review the progress made on sustainable agriculture and land use and assist to give guidance in FAO's contribution to preparations for the Rio+10 Summit in 2002.

The paper to be presented at COAG's 16th Session highlights the issues and action programmes identified by the diverse stakeholders participating in the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) process in SARD review. The focus of the paper is on defining and presenting a clear framework for FAO in preparing for CSD-10 and the Rio+10. It also asks COAG for guidance on FAO's future role and activities as Task Manager in promoting and monitoring progress with special emphasis on ensuring enhanced partnerships and alliances among all stakeholders through a holistic approach. And finally, COAG is asked to take stock of its own possible future role as a forum for guiding the effective implementation of SARD goals.

As non-governmental observers are being assisted by FAO to contribute input to Rio+10 as part of FAO's Task Manager role, it is hoped COAG will encourage observers to debate with Member Nations on this item dealing with SARD and Land Management. Their expanded involvement is in line with the Director General's recent statements on FAO policy and strategy for cooperation with civil society.

8. Biosecurity for Food and Agriculture

The paper describes biosecurity as a key requirement for achieving the goals set out in the FAO Strategic Framework. Biosecurity has direct relevance to food safety, the conservation of the environment (including biodiversity), and sustainability of agriculture. Biosecurity encompasses all policy and regulatory frameworks (including instruments and activities) to manage risks associated with food and agriculture (including relevant environmental risks), including fisheries and forestry. Biosecurity is composed of food safety, as well as plant and animal life and health. It also includes issues like the introduction and release of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and invasive alien species.

Biosecurity is of growing interest in particular in relation to globalisation of the world economy, the rapid increase in communications, transport and trade, technological progress, and increased awareness of biological diversity and environmental issues. Members require relevant international frameworks and standards to support appropriate national action and national regulatory frameworks for biosecurity. Recent international and national developments include the integration of, and cooperation across, sectors.

FAO's activities in biosecurity include food safety (Codex), plant life and health (IPPC), animal life and health (including fish), GMOs, issues on invasive alien species and safeguarding genetic resources.

The paper considers the inter-relationships between food safety, and animal and plant life and health in the context of cooperation and coordination at both the international and national levels.

The paper provides:


9. Other Business

10. Date and Place of Next Session


11. Adoption of the Report


1 Yet to be ratified.