Sixteenth Session

Rome, 26-30 March 2001, Red Room



1. This note presents a summary of the above programme evaluation covering the period 1992-98. The evaluation was carried out by the Evaluation Service during 1998-99, and was reviewed by the Programme Committee at its Eighty-third session1 in May 2000. The Committee recommended that the evaluation's main findings and recommendations be shared with the Committee of Agriculture, and this note contains also main comments of the Programme Committee on the evaluation (see paragraph 8. below).

2. Programme 2.2.4 covers the following functions: (a) monitoring and assessing major global problems and issues on food and agriculture; (b) serving as a window to the outside world in disseminating main FAO policy work in these areas; and (c) providing substantive support to the related statutory bodies: the Committee on Commodity Problems (CCP) and the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) as well as other international fora. The programme was divided into three sub-programmes addressing related but different areas ( - Global Perspective Studies; - Commodity Market Development, Commodity and Trade Policy Advice and Intergovernmental Action; - World Food Security Analysis). Each of the sub-programmes was executed by separate units, making it a complex task to ensure the cohesion of the Programme as a single entity.

3. The evaluation concluded that:

    1. The relevance of the programme was high in terms of the FAO's mandate and its priority concerns. It focused on the core function of the Organization by providing a forum for intergovernmental policy debate as well as supplying policy advice, information and assessment, on thematic topics such as food security and international agricultural trade.
    2. The programme's overall coherence, however, was found to be poor in terms of the stated objectives and structure. The overall objective was not clear, suffering from weak linkages among the three sub-programmes, each of which functioned somewhat autonomously.
    3. Programme implementation showed a generally good track record, with the three sub-programmes producing efficiently a large number of outputs, including many of good quality. The intergovernmental committees (CCP and CFS) supported by the Programme also expressed general satisfaction with the substantive support given. At the same time, there had been a sharp reduction in the regular resources for the Programme since 1996, especially for Sub-programmes and, with negative effects on programme delivery. In this respect, it was noteworthy that good results were achieved in reducing the cost of meetings under the Committee on Commodity Problems and the Intergovernmental Commodity Group (CCP/ICGs) during the period.
    4. However, there were several important issues identified for attention (see paragraph 7. below).

4. In the process of reviewing an earlier draft with the programme staff concerned, several observations and recommendations were immediately acted upon by FAO management, notably the one related to the structure of Programme 2.2.4 and another concerning staffing of the Global Perspective Studies Unit (Sub-programme Regarding the latter issue, the post of Unit's Chief was filled without delay with a well-qualified staff member, following the retirement of the previous incumbent.

5. The issue of programme structure was addressed through the then ongoing Strategic Framework and programme planning exercise, and the results may be seen in the restructured Programmes 2.2.3 and 2.2.4 presented in the Programme of Work and Budget 2000-01. In particular, the Global Perspective Studies work has been moved to Programme 2.2.3, which is thus firmly focused on food and agricultural information (monitoring, assessments and outlooks), while Programme 2.2.4 (now retitled as Agriculture, Food Security and Trade Policy) has been substantially expanded by incorporating some of the policy-oriented work under other programmes within the Major Programme 2.2. Thus, the new programme has a broader and more coherent focus on agricultural policy issues, aimed at the reduction of poverty and food insecurity, while addressing main policy issues arising from international trade and globalization process. The new structure also has a better potential to facilitate more effective inter-governmental policy cooperation through CFS (including monitoring and follow-up of the World Food Summit Plan of Action) and CCP.

6. Further noteworthy achievements have been made since the evaluation was completed, in particular:

    1. The methodologies for monitoring and assessing world food security situations as part of the World Food Summit (WFS) follow up were agreed on at the Twenty-fifth Session of the CFS (31 May - 3 June 1999), and the first issue of a new biennial publication, the State of Food Insecurity in the World was produced in 1999, showing that while progress is being made, hunger is still being reduced too slowly to meet the World Food Summit target of halving the number of undernourished people in the world by 2015. Furthermore, the report shows that the rate of progress has been highly uneven, with some parts of the world doing exceptionally well, while others are falling behind. Among the factors creating the greatest challenges are civil conflict, environmental degradation, and economic shocks.
    2. FAO actively contributed throughout 1999 to the preparations for the new round of Multilateral Trade Negotiations (MTNs), that culminated in the WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle in November, and has been providing support to Member Nations through a number of normative and operational activities.2 Much of FAO's technical assistance in 1999 focussed on capacity building of developing Member Nations through a series of regional and national workshops in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Near East.
    3. The Global Perspective Studies Unit started to prepare for a revised and updated version of its AT2010 study (under the provisional title "Agriculture: Towards 2015/30"), that included a complete overhaul of its data base and projections work, and the preparation of a Technical Interim Report.

7. Nevertheless, many of the conclusions and recommendations made in the programme evaluation remain valid today. These include:

    1. Regarding the Programme as a whole: there is a continuing need to develop a more
    2. Regarding Sub-programme Issues relating to:
    3. Regarding Sub-programme Issues with regard to:
    4. Regarding Sub-programme Issues with regard to:

8. The Programme Committee broadly endorsed the assessments, conclusions and recommendations of this evaluation, recognising the relevance and importance of the programme in addressing the Organization's thematic priorities in the areas of global perspective analysis, agricultural trade and food security. The Committee highlighted the importance of ensuring the coherence of the programme so that its resources are focused on selected priority areas with adequate critical mass. It also encouraged more proactive efforts for disseminating the programme's analytical and information products and for greater joint work planning among the various technical units concerned, particularly for the global perspective studies.


1 PC 83/4 (a)

2 These activities included an expert consultation on developing countries implementation experience with the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, a symposium held in Geneva on agriculture, trade and food security, a joint FAO/WHO/WTO conference, (held in Melborne, Australia) on food quality and safety issues as they affect trade and the development of FAO's agricultural trade web site (