Hundred and Nineteenth Session
Rome, 20 - 25 November 2000
REPORT OF THE EIGHTY-FOURTH SESSION OF THE PROGRAMME COMMITTEE
Rome, 25-29 September 2000
MATTERS REQUIRING ATTENTION BY THE COUNCIL
ADOPTION OF THE AGENDA AND THE TIMETABLE
MEDIUM TERM PLAN 2002-2007
PART I From the Strategic Framework to the Medium Term Plan 2002-2007
PART II - Strategies to Address Members' Needs
PART III - Strategies to Address Cross-Organizational Issues
PROGRAMME IMPLEMENTATION REPORT 1998-99
REVIEW OF PROGRAMMES
Programme 2.1.1: Natural Resources
Programme 2.1.2: Crops
Programme 2.1.3: Livestock
Programme 2.1.4: Agricultural Support Systems
Programme 2.1.5: Agricultural Applications of Isotopes and Biotechnology
EVALUATION OF THE ASSOCIATE PROFESSIONAL OFFICER PROGRAMME
PROGRESS REPORT ON THE FOLLOW-UP OF PAST PROGRAMME COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS
REVIEW OF WORKING METHODS OF THE PROGRAMME COMMITTEE
POSSIBLE ITEMS FOR DISCUSSION AT THE NEXT SESSION
DATE AND PLACE OF EIGHTY-FIFTH SESSION
MATTERS REQUIRING ATTENTION BY THE COUNCIL
Report of the Programme Committee
Matters requiring discussion
Medium Term Plan 2002-07
Programme Implementation Report 1998-99
Matters for information
Review of Programmes
Evaluation of the Associate Professional Officer Programme
Progress Report on the Follow-up of Past Programme
Review of Working Methods of the Programme Committee
Possible Items for Discussion at the Next Session
Rome, 25-29 September 2000
1. The Committee submits to the Council the following report of its Eighty-fourth Session.
2. The following Members were present:
|Chairman:||Mr R. Rose (Canada)|
|Members:||Mr P.N. Ross (Australia)|
|Mr T.N. Mokake (Cameroon)|
|Mr Z. Tang (China)|
|Mr B. Gutiérrez Zuluaga Botero (Colombia)|
|Mr A.S. Karama (Indonesia)|
|Mr F. Zenny (Jamaica)|
|Mr G. Mansour (Lebanon)|
|Mr I.M. Zawia (Libya)|
|Mr J. Berteling (Netherlands)|
|Ms S. Nyamudeza (Zimbabwe)|
3. The Agenda and the Timetable for the meeting were approved, with the removal of the item on UN Joint Inspection Unit Reports which was to be taken up for discussion in the Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees.
4. The Committee recalled the central place of the Medium Term Plan in the revised planning and budgeting process endorsed by FAO Governing Bodies. It welcomed the extensive evidence of solid links established between the Corporate Strategies and Strategic Objectives in the Strategic Framework 2000-2015 and the substance of the Plan. The Committee felt that in translating the broad orientations in the Strategic Framework into a consistent medium-term programme, justice had been given to recognised priorities and expressed demands of the membership in a generally satisfactory manner.
5. The Committee welcomed the new format of the document, which it felt embodied considerable improvements over previous versions. It noted that more detailed information, such as on external partnerships, would be available for consultation on FAO's Internet Website. In observing several instances of convoluted language or use of too technical expressions, the Committee emphasised that the Medium Term Plan also served as a source of reference for a broad audience and, therefore, recommended that simpler non-technical language be employed in future versions.
6. The Committee in reviewing the application of the new programming model, appreciated the increased use of the technical project modality since the first attempt made in the Programme of Work and Budget 2000-01. However, it stressed that this should not be overdone as the technical project, by definition, required the statement of a clear time-bound objective or outcome and, therefore, should not be used if this was not feasible.
7. In this regard, the Committee endorsed the innovation of presenting a range of achievement indicators to facilitate monitoring of progress in the implementation of the programme entities contained in the Plan. However, while recognising that this was not always straightforward, it considered that there was room to identify more precise and measurable indicators particularly in the case of technical projects.
8. The Committee encouraged, therefore, further attention to the design of programme entities in order to ensure a more appropriate choice in the use of the three types of entity (technical projects (TPs), continuing programme activities (CPs) and technical service agreements (TSs)) embodied in the new model. It was noted, for instance, that at one extreme, it was feasible to present the large number of planned major outputs in terms of an equal number of technical projects of much smaller size and with tighter timeframes. However, this presentation method would clearly dilute the policy message in the Plan, and inhibit understanding of the links with the broader policy orientations in the Strategic Framework. On the other hand, it was also noted that when a long-term involvement of the Organization was virtually certain in a given field of activity, the use of the technical project modality was bound to appear somewhat artificial.
9. The Committee noted that indicative resource projections had been included in the Plan. While these provided useful pointers to the levels of resources required to implement in full the individual entities and to the proposed balance among them, it observed that the overall increase above the present budget envisaged in the Plan was essentially directed at strengthening the substance of FAO's work.
10. Many members recalled the concerns expressed at various FAO fora about the decline in resources experienced by the Organization in the recent past. They stressed that the insufficient progress in the achievement of the World Food Summit (WFS) commitments, as recently addressed by the Committee on World Food Security, made a reversal of this situation of prolonged budgetary stagnation all the more imperative. Members gave, in this connection, examples of the increased assistance they expected from FAO, from both a national and regional perspective.
11. The Committee welcomed the particular accent on multi-disciplinarity made in this Part of the document by highlighting sixteen Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action (PAIAs). They noted that, while resources to implement these PAIAs were programmed under the concerned units' budgets, they embodied a firm commitment from all FAO units to work in concert in addressing important issues requiring a multi-disciplinary response from the Organization.
12. The Committee recognised that several of the indicated PAIAs had been identified by Technical Committees in their reports to the Council. Moreover, in most instances, they represented continuation of important contributions of the Organization to issues of international significance. The Committee welcomed the opportunity offered by the Medium Term Plan to formalise these PAIAs, and thus to facilitate the understanding of FAO's involvement. While being in general agreement with the PAIAs highlighted in the Plan, the Committee encouraged further refinement in order to sharpen their focus.
13. The Committee was informed about the arrangements for ensuring due accountability and periodic monitoring of progress in the implementation of the PAIAs. It noted in particular that appropriate coordination machinery would be put in place, with direct reporting lines to senior management. The Committee stressed the importance of including PAIAs in the arrangements for regular post facto reporting to the Governing Bodies such as through the Programme Implementation Report and evaluation reporting, whenever applicable.
Major Programme 2.1: Agricultural Production and Support Systems
14. The Committee addressed the proposals in the Plan regarding this major programme together with in-depth review of the same, under Item 4 of its Agenda2. It emphasised the contributions of the major programme to assisting Members with viable options to enhance agricultural production and added-value products for household food security and poverty alleviation, and ultimately food security.
15. In recognising that the major programme was responding to a fast-changing environment and the diverse needs of countries in using new technologies, the Committee confirmed the need to evaluate and provide appropriate guidance to Members on the use of new technologies for intensifying sustainable agriculture and to ensure that regulatory mechanisms and risk assessment protocols were created and put into practice.
16. The Committee stressed that the major programme should address both ecological and sustainability aspects of production systems, as some agricultural practices contributed positively to mitigating environmental problems, while other practices had deleterious effects. In addition, it was important to maintain a balance between both normative and field-level activities so as to meet the diverse needs of countries.
17. The Committee noted that information, knowledge management and advice were important products of the major programme. It sought clarification on the proposed decision-support systems, which were often comprised of options and the implications of choices, and frequently accompanied with guidelines, methods, best practices and supporting databases.
Major Programme 2.2: Food and Agriculture Policy and Development
18. The Committee considered that the proposed structure and priority activities within this major programme well reflected current developments at international level and emerging trends.
19. In connection with Programme 2.2.1, Nutrition, the Committee noted that the design of entities was aimed at providing a sharper focus on recognised priorities in the areas of nutrition and household food security, as well as food safety and consumer protection, including Codex. It reaffirmed the importance of the FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission and recalled the need for an enhanced World Health Organization (WHO) contribution. The Committee was pleased to note that the G-8 Summit had highlighted the key role of Codex in achieving consensus on matters related to quality control and safety including genetically modified organisms, and that it had recommended that FAO and the WHO convene an international conference of food safety regulators to address current food safety issues and advise the international community in this regard. It recommended that promotion of Codex, as the internationally recognised body, and collaboration with external partners be given more prominence in the Medium Term Plan.
20. The Committee emphasised that Programme 2.2.2, Food and Agricultural Information, had to respond to pressing needs for improving the quality of statistical data, and to facilitate access of member countries to agricultural information and statistics. In particular, the Committee stressed the need to make such information available on an equal footing to users in both developed and developing countries taking account of different levels of capabilities in communication technologies, and to seek partnerships with the private sector where appropriate. It reiterated the importance of entity 222P5, Programme for the Improvement of Language Coverage, and of availability in all FAO languages of the contents of the World Agricultural Information Centre (WAICENT) programme. The Committee noted the role of the WAICENT consultation on Agricultural Information Management as a forum for developing management standards related to agricultural information.
21. Regarding entity 222A1, Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping System (FIVIMS), the Committee recommended continued active cooperation through the Inter-agency Working Group (IAWG) on FIVIMS, and further strengthening of the capacity of developing countries to build up their own information systems. It looked forward to clearer identification of the outputs of FIVIMS at the end of the Medium Term Plan period, and noted that the publication, State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI), should be singled out in this regard. The Committee also received clarifications on the scope of entity 222A3 on FAO Country Profiles and Mapping Information System, aimed at including inter alia information on all FAO activities in a country as well as the relevant documents, maps, reports and statistics, organised in a user-friendly way.
22. The Committee noted that Programmes 2.2.3, Food and Agricultural Monitoring, Assessments and Outlooks, and 2.2.4, Agriculture, Food Security and Trade Policy, had already been substantially restructured in the 2000-01 biennium and that this structure was carried forward into the Medium Term Plan. It reiterated the high priority accorded by the membership to work on agricultural commodity trade, standard-setting and analysis of the impact of World Trade Organization (WTO) agreements on food security. The Committee confirmed the importance of related technical assistance to developing countries, including capacity-building in preparation of the current round of multilateral trade negotiations through studies, analyses and training. It noted that a separate technical project (224A3) had been established to distinguish the analytical work linked to preparations for the 2006 mid-term review of progress towards the World Food Summit target, from the on-going work of monitoring follow-up to the WFS (224A1).
Major Programme 2.3: Fisheries
23. The Committee recognised that the proposed medium-term programme appropriately addressed the main areas of concern in the fisheries sector, including through a range of activities aimed at ensuring implementation of and compliance with the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the International Plans of Action endorsed by COFI.
24. The Committee noted that other aspects consistently stressed by the membership, such as the wide dissemination of information and the strengthening of regional fisheries bodies had been given due prominence in the Plan. The Committee further emphasised the importance of close linkages among the various issues in fisheries, underlining the special attention to be paid to environmental concerns.
Major Programme 2.4: Forestry
25. In endorsing the proposed priorities and activities for forestry, the Committee highlighted a number of specific areas such as: FAO's work to promote the management and conservation of forests in arid zones and countries with low forest cover; collaboration with the Secretariats of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Convention to Combat Desertification; the need to address the special problems of lowland forests and wetlands; and FAO's continued active role in the international forest dialogue, including the United Nations Forum on Forests and the Collaborative Partnership on Forests.
Major Programme 2.5: Contributions to Sustainable Development and Special Programme Thrusts
26. The Committee recalled the special role of this major programme in support of sustainable development, including spearheading of follow-up to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) process and associated conventions, as well as to recommendations by other major international summits and conferences. It, therefore, recognised its strong interactions with other technical programmes.
27. The Committee generally supported the new entities under Programme 2.5.1, Research, Natural Resources Management and Technology Transfer, and sought clarifications regarding activities for youth in agriculture and the work of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and National Agricultural Research System (NARS) Secretariats, including the notable difference in resource levels between TAC and NARS. It reiterated the importance of strengthening support to agricultural research and extension, pointing to the apparent low level of resources allocated to these activities. The Committee also appreciated the expected contribution of entity 251A3, Partnerships for Improving Application of Biotechnology in Agriculture, in enabling the Organization to contribute actively to ongoing debates on this subject.
28. In connection with Programme 2.5.2, Women and Population, the Committee noted that this programme was playing a catalytic role in the preparation of the Gender and Development Plan of Action, which was scheduled for submission to the Conference, and which would specify contributions of all units throughout FAO to the Gender Mainstreaming priority.
29. The Committee generally endorsed the entities under Programme 2.5.3, Rural Development, including assistance to the membership on important issues relevant to rural development and sustainable livelihoods. It encouraged refinement of technical project 253A1 on Land Tenure Institution Building for Food Security and Sustainable Rural Development, towards a better description of intended outputs. It was also suggested that entity 253P1 on Management and Support to the ACC Network on Rural Development and Food Security was more amenable to the concept of a technical project, rather than continuing programme activity.
30. As regards Programme 2.5.6, Food Production in Support of Food Security in LIFDCs, the Committee enquired about the rationale for designation of the three entities as continuing programme activities rather than technical projects. It was clarified that the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) was conceived as a long-term programme, implemented in two phases (Phase I and Phase II) through a variety of projects in the concerned countries. In addition, activities where Phase I had started on a limited scale were continuously extended both in terms of covering additional agro-climatic and administrative zones and a range of activities, termed as "extension of Phase I". While detailed information was available on these diverse activities, it was felt pertinent to recognise three main entities as continuing programme activities in the context of the aggregate picture of the Medium Term Plan 2002-2007.
Major Programme 3.1: Policy Assistance
31. The Committee recalled that it had reviewed in depth Major Programme 3.1, Policy Assistance, at its previous session. It was satisfied with the respective section of the Medium Term Plan, which emphasised particularly the link between policy assistance and field programme development. It received clarification on the range of activities under "country focus" which went beyond country information, and was an integral part of policy assistance and field programme development work, mainly located at Regional and Sub-regional Offices, including harnessing of inter-disciplinary support to the FAO Representatives and FAO activities at the country level.
32. The Committee expressed broad agreement with the proposed actions under these strategies, as outlined in Part III. It was pleased to observe that they were consistent with the guidance provided by the membership on various occasions in the recent past.
33. The Committee focused its discussion more particularly on the strategies for Enhancing Inter-disciplinarity, for Broadening Partnerships and Alliances, and for Leveraging Resources for FAO and its Members, and received clarifications on several aspects of the proposals.
34. The Committee reiterated the importance of enhancing inter-disciplinary approaches in the work of the Organization whenever pertinent, while bearing in mind the attendant difficulties and potential additional costs. It noted that the trend could have implications for the required staff profiles, given the substantial staff turnover expected in the near future in FAO. In connection with the strategy for Leveraging Resources for FAO and its Members, the Committee was informed that many of the proposed actions were in effect well underway, as part of the ongoing reorganisation of the Technical Cooperation Department (TC). It expressed the hope of a prompt reversal of the downward evolution of the extra-budgetary resources available to FAO, in particular as a consequence of the renewed and active dialogue with donors.
35. The Committee welcomed the format of this report, including the improvements made in the presentation of tables and charts, as well as in style. It reiterated the usefulness of the Programme Implementation Report as a complement to evaluation reporting. In this connection the Committee observed that FAO Representatives could make good use of the findings in the report in their ongoing dialogue with governments.
36. In noting that the subject was under active consideration by the Finance Committee, the Committee received clarifications on the information in the report regarding the evolution of field programme support costs, and attendant reimbursements from funding sources.
37. The Committee observed that the delivery in terms of outputs had been quite satisfactory, although the rate of implementation naturally varied among the various types of outputs depending on several factors, including the need to accommodate unscheduled commitments.
38. While observing again with concern the decline in the non-emergency field programme delivery experienced in the 1998-99 biennium, the Committee was apprised of the various instances of fruitful synergies between the regular and the field programmes. The Committee was also informed that the Secretariat was currently working on initiatives to address this decline.
39. The Committee anticipated that the fully-fledged introduction of the new programming model, with greater attention to intended outcomes, would have a significant influence on future versions of the Programme Implementation Report. It looked forward to receiving and discussing tentative formats at a future session.
40. The Committee continued its traditional review of programmes in non-Conference years addressing, at its present session, Major Programme 2.1, Agricultural Production and Support Systems.
41. The Committee welcomed the formulation of several intra-departmental entities to address crosscutting issues, such as integrated production systems, conservation agriculture and genetic resources for food and agriculture (GRFA). It received clarification on management arrangements for these new entities under the office of the Assistant Director-General, Agriculture Department.
42. The Committee was satisfied with the focus on water use efficiency, land productivity, and integrated land and water management, and appreciated the balance between discipline-oriented work, contributions to inter-departmental activities and support to field work. It noted the strong gender dimension in work on water productivity and stressed the need to monitor progress during implementation.
43. The Committee recognised the programme's contributions to international conventions and global water initiatives, given the multi-sectoral use of land and water resources. It urged FAO to further link water use to food security issues, e.g. in terms of ensuring self-sufficiency, supporting both large and small-scale water development, and more generally the sound management of resources. It enquired about activities to address water needs in arid climates and water management in tropical regions.
44. The Committee received clarification on the outcomes expected in the next six years, for such time-bound activities as Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and the Emergency Prevention System (EMPRES) for Transboundary Animal and Plant Pests and Diseases, and the continuous work linked to the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), and reiterated that more effort should be given to quantifying outputs. The Committee noted that planned work on crop and grassland production focused primarily on smallholder farmers. However, it recognised that FAO must also be able to respond to Members' needs for advice to improve sustainable production practices at other scales, and welcomed the opportunity to return to this at a future session.
45. The Committee stressed the need for wide dissemination of the knowledge and information accumulated under this programme, and appreciated ongoing arrangements for integrating information on plant production and protection contributed by many experts. The Committee recommended accelerating the production of international standards for phytosanitary measures, within the framework of the IPPC, and due attention to the seeds dimension of disaster emergency response mechanisms. It also stressed the importance of narrowing the yield gap experienced in rice production.
46. The Committee welcomed the revised structure of technical projects and continuing programme activities under this programme, to reflect the fast evolution of the livestock sector. It received clarification on the work carried out to improve pastures and forages for small ruminants in arid countries, and on the campaign to eradicate rinderpest by the year 2010.
47. The Committee supported the response to the expansion of peri-urban production of monogastrics as well as the accent on minimising the associated environmental and human health risks, and the proposed strengthening of FAO's capabilities to deal with zoonotic diseases and food safety with respect to livestock products. It also underlined the importance of continued close attention to trade-related transboundary animal diseases. The Committee urged FAO to increase its support to countries in transition or those implementing structural adjustment programmes, to help stem the decline of the livestock sector under their particular circumstances. The Committee noted with some concern the slow pace of development of FAO's work on animal genetic resources management and conservation, and encouraged further action to accelerate progress.
48. The Committee noted the changed focus on creating an enabling environment for, and supporting, entrepreneurship rather than on provision of services through the public sector, which was in line with the evolving relationship between the public and private sectors. The Committee recalled that this programme covered diverse disciplines, and reaffirmed their critical role in addressing poverty alleviation and food security. However, it observed that some of the descriptions of the proposed Medium Term Plan projects were less clear than in the Programme of Work and Budget 2000-01.
49. The Committee underlined the importance of credit and the food industry, in helping farmers achieve diversification and increased food security. It was informed that work on important products and services, such as agricultural engineering services and the FAO MicroBanking system would continue in the medium-term. While noting that updating and preparation of guidelines was planned to address new circumstances affecting agricultural support systems, the Committee recommended that an appraisal be made of the impact of such guidelines.
50. The Committee appreciated the increased attention given to trade-related issues in food and agriculture, to activities in support of the livestock component of EMPRES, to transboundary insect pest control, and to assisting Members in implementing Codex standards. It noted the Joint Division's systems-based and integrated approaches to crop intensification and natural resource management, including biotechnology applications, and its contributions to several PAIAs. The Committee recalled the valuable training and advice provided to Members under this joint programme, and received clarification on its regional outreach.
51. The Committee appreciated the effort made by the Joint Division to strengthen partnerships with relevant FAO programmes and external institutions. It considered such interactions essential for promoting synergy and effectiveness in programme delivery to members of both FAO and the IAEA. The Committee urged continued attention to pursuing and enhancing, where necessary, this cooperation.
52. The Committee recognized the significance of the Associate Professional Officer Programme, under which many young professionals, mainly the nationals of the participating donor countries but also some from developing countries, have served the Organization in many different geographical locations. It also appreciated that the APOs successfully completing the Programme could be an important potential source of future professional staff for FAO. It noted that while the Programme was generally appreciated by broad segments of the stakeholders, especially by FAO staff working with the APOs, there had been sharp declines in the number of new entrants during recent years and serious weaknesses existed in the Programme administration and support, particularly in monitoring, supervision and training of the APOs.
53. The Committee endorsed the recommendations of the review aimed at strengthening the effectiveness and coherence in managing and administering the Programme, especially by instituting a systematic monitoring of APO performance. Regarding the second recommendation on the introduction of measures for opening greater opportunities for well-qualified APOs for junior professional posts, the Committee received clarification that specific measures for this purpose were subject to further review and eventual decision in the context of FAOs staff recruitment policy and practices.
54. The Committee noted that this review had been undertaken to examine the relevance, efficiency and effectiveness of the APO Programme in the face of declining numbers of newly-entering APOs. While it recognized the potential utility of such an exercise, the Committee considered that the review fell short of the expected standards for evaluation, particularly with respect to analytical rigour in addressing the cost-effectiveness issues. Similarly, the review did not provide clear analysis on some questions, such as why APOs from developing countries had a low rate of employment with FAO. The Committee underlined the importance of maintaining the quality of evaluation work consistently at high standards.
55. The Committee took note of this progress report.
56. The Committee agreed that it would be useful to enter into informal consultations among members through e-mail ahead of its sessions, particularly in relation to topics which appeared to be of a complex nature.
57. The Committee also agreed that it would be useful if the Chairman could assign agenda items or segments thereof to individual members to take on the responsibility for preparing sets of questions which could be put following the initial presentations by the Secretariat.
58. The Committee agreed to draw to the attention of the Council that, besides the standing items on its agenda, it would need to discuss the following subjects at its next session:
59. It also noted that the Joint Meeting (JM) with the Finance Committee was scheduled to consider the Summary Programme of Work and Budget 2002-03 and the standing item on "Savings and Efficiencies in Governance". Depending on the interest in the Finance Committee, the JM could also discuss the above-mentioned "Evaluation of FAO's Policy Assistance". The Committee would also take advantage of the extensive range of evaluation-related topics to revisit the whole evaluation regime in FAO.
60. In addition, the Committee indicated the following topics to be addressed at the next session, either singly or jointly with the Finance Committee:
- A progress report on the situation of the field programme (covering both the reasons for the decline experienced in the recent past and the current and planned measures to redress this negative trend);
- FAO's new financial systems and procedures.
A future session will consider the evaluation of the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS).
61. The Committee noted that the Eighty-fifth Session of the Programme Committee would be held in Rome from Monday 7 to Friday 11 May 2001.
_________________________1 Doc. CL 119/17
2 Doc. PC 84/1
3 Doc. C 2001/8
4 Doc. PC 84/5