CL 124/4


Hundred and twenty-fourth Session

Rome, 23 – 28 June 2003

Report of the Joint Meeting of the
Eighty-ninth Session of the Programme Committee
and the
Hundred-and-second Session of the
Finance Committee
Rome, 7 May 2003

Table of Contents




Report of the Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees

Matters requiring discussion and/or decision


Summary Programme of Work and Budget 2004-2005


Savings and Efficiencies in Governance


Matters for information

JIU Report: Review of Management and Administration in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations


The Independence and Location of the Evaluation Service





Rome, 7 May 2003



1. The Committees submit to the Council the following report of their Joint Meeting.

2. The following Members were present at the meeting:

Programme Committee

Finance Committee

   Vice-Chairperson acting as Chairperson    Chairperson

Mr. B.G. Hankey (Canada)

Mr. H.O. Molina Reyes (Chile)

   Members    Members

Mr. B.J. Hughes (Australia)

Ms. R. Inoue (Japan)

Mr. M. Moungui (Cameroon)

Ms. L. Al Saqqaf (Kuwait)

Mr. Li Zhengdong (China)

Mr. A.B. Khan (Pakistan)

Mr. D.A. Bonilla Giraldo (Colombia)

Mr. A. Wele (Senegal)

Mr. A.H. Haidar (Lebanon)

Mr. L. Caviezel (Switzerland)

Mr. R.B. Khalid (Malaysia)

Ms. P.M.S. Hingi (Tanzania)

Mr. M.M. Touré (Mali)

Mr. A. Beattie (United Kingdom)

Mr. E. Wermuth (Netherlands)

Ms. L. Tamlyn (USA)

Ms. A.M. Baiardi Quesnel (Paraguay)

Mr. M.S.M.A. Harbi (Sudan)

Adoption of the Agenda1

3. The Agenda and Timetable for the Joint Meeting were approved.

Summary Programme of Work and Budget

4. After reporting by the Chairpersons of the two Committees on the results of their respective discussions, the Committees jointly addressed the Summary Programme of Work and Budget 2004-05 (SPWB).

5. The Committees welcomed the improved format of the document, which gave further evidence of the progress made in the application of results-based budgeting in FAO.

6. The Committees observed that the recommendations of the sessions of the Technical Committees, held earlier in the year, would need to be taken into account in the full Programme of Work and Budget (PWB).

7. The Committees underlined that insufficient progress was being made by the world community in meeting international commitments, in particular for the reduction in the number of hungry and malnourished people, as highlighted at the World Food Summit/five years later. They recognized that there were strong expectations that FAO should respond to other major international events, including the Doha and Monterrey Conferences, the World Summit for Sustainable Development and the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals adopted by the General Assembly of the UN. The Committees stressed that these expectations and the expressed demands from the membership called for the maintenance of an adequate balance between normative activities of general interest and field and other operational activities of direct benefit to farming populations in needy regions and in support of national capacity-building.

8. The Committees recognized that the SPWB presented two scenarios; one corresponding to the Director-General’s proposed real growth (RG) level of resources over the approved PWB 2002-03, and a second scenario at zero-real growth (ZRG). Some Members reiterated their request for a zero-nominal growth (ZNG) scenario.

9. The Committees noted the potential substantial impact on total budget requirements stemming from exchange rates and the handling of the accrued liability for after-service medical care, for which possible arrangements were being addressed by the Finance Committee.

10. Members underlined specific priority areas, which they expected could be adequately resourced, irrespective of the budget level, including the IPPC, Codex, the TCP, the SPFS and livestock.

11. In addressing the budget level, different views were expressed. Many Members supported RG, whilst other Members considered a ZRG budget to be satisfactory. Yet other Members reiterated their support for a ZNG budget.

12. The Committees were not, therefore, able to express a consensus recommendation to the Council at this stage. They expressed the hope that a consensus solution could eventually emerge reconciling the diverging positions, and invited further dialogue among Members.

The Independence and Location of the Evaluation Service

13. The Committees appreciated the paper as a useful basis for their discussion. They agreed unanimously on the importance of the evaluation function as a management tool, for ensuring overall the programme effectiveness of the Organization and enhancing transparency in governance. Many members felt that it was timely to address this topic in FAO, especially in the light of recent developments in institutional arrangements for evaluation in IFAD and WFP.

14. Regarding the proposal of the External Auditor to merge AUD and PBEE, most speakers were not in favour of combining these two units. However, it was felt that with the level of information provided, it was not possible to reach a firm position on this issue at this meeting. Most speakers felt that while the activities of the two units were different and distinct, they formed complementary elements of oversight function, and thus measures could be taken to enhance collaboration and synergy between them. Some members suggested that the experience of other UN agencies with internal oversight units (i.e. those combining the functions of audit, inspection and evaluation) should be studied before taking a final decision on the matter.

15. In discussing the issue of independence, the Committee members agreed broadly that evaluation should be independent and that it was essential that it contribute to organizational learning and improvement as well as to accountability. However, in practice many questions arose as to:

    1. the precise meaning of independence of evaluation (from what, for what and how much);
    2. the specific enabling conditions for such independence, covering:
      1. institutional aspects (i.e. organizational location, reporting arrangements, mandate and terms of reference),
      2. authority and control level (i.e. budget and staffing resources - in particular the head of the evaluation unit, planning evaluation activities, clearance procedures for individual evaluation reports, access to information), and
      3. operational aspects (i.e. methods and procedures for ensuring analytical rigour, objectivity and transparency);
    3. feedback and learning from evaluation (including roles of stakeholders, sharing and dissemination of evaluation results);
    4. the advantages and disadvantages of alternatives for strengthening independence, taking into account the above.

16. The Committees concluded that they needed more specific information to shed light on these aspects before they could form definitive judgements on the optimal arrangements for strengthening independence of evaluation in the Organization. Thus, they requested that a paper be prepared by the Secretariat, for consideration in September this year, expanding on the various issues noted above and identifying alternative scenarios for ensuring greater independence, including a fully independent unit, as well as strengthening independence further under the current organizational location of PBEE. The paper should also take into account practices and lessons of selected international organizations that would be relevant in considering alternative models of arrangements for independence.

Savings and Efficiencies in Governance

17. At its Hundred and Twenty-third Session (28 October - 1 November 2003), the Council requested that the Secretariat further study the option of holding simultaneously during sessions of the Conference, the General Debate and thematic Round Tables. In so doing, the Secretariat was requested to take into account such practical factors as timing, space availability, attendance by Ministers and incremental costs. The Secretariat was requested to report to the June 2003 Session of the Council, through the Joint Meeting of the Programme and Finance Committees in May 2003, on its findings.

18. The Committees considered the Secretariat's document on this subject, and noted the three Scenarios proposed therein.

19. The Committees felt that Scenario I was the most cost-effective and would allow the opportunity for interaction between heads of delegations. In essence, the proposal is to hold three Round Tables, accommodating a limited number of participants each, on 1-3 December 2003, from 17:00-19:00 hrs, for an incremental cost of US$ 3,290.

20. The Committees therefore decided to recommend to the Council that Scenario I be implemented during the forthcoming Thirty-second Session of the Conference.

21. The Committees furthermore requested that for each of the Round Tables:

    1. there should be flexibility in the number of participants;
    2. there should be balanced participation by the Regional Groups to the extent possible;
    3. there should be flexibility regarding the level of participation;
    4. the issue selected for discussion should be of strategic importance and should not necessarily be linked to the themes of the Conference.

22. The Committees took note of the concern expressed by one member regarding the recommendation that Scenario I be implemented.

Report of the United Nations Joint Inspection Unit: Review of Management and Administration in the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (JIU/REP/2002/8)

23. The Committees considered this report which was accompanied by the comments of the Director-General. It was introduced by Mr. Armando Duque, current Chairperson of the JIU, who was also a member of the JIU team which prepared it.

24. The Committees welcomed the initiative of the Joint Inspection Unit to undertake a study of FAO, which was part of a series of studies focused on individual UN system Organizations. They appreciated the quality and usefulness of the report as well as the full cooperation extended to the JIU team by the FAO Secretariat in all locations, during the course of the study. They noted that constructive dialogue had apparently facilitated broad agreement with the proposed recommendations in the final report.

25. The Committees recognized that among the 13 recommendations, three were addressed to the Council and the remainder to the Director-General. They, moreover, observed that many of the issues to which these recommendations related, were already being considered by either the Finance Committee (e.g. recommendations on management systems, human resources management, external and internal oversight, and capital budgeting) or the Programme Committee (e.g. recommendation on planning and programming, including the effectiveness of PAIAs, and on criteria for country offices – although this was also of some interest to the Finance Committee). The Committees were also aware that implementation of a number of pertinent actions had already been initiated since the JIU report was finalized.

26. The Committees, therefore, agreed that it was preferable that more detailed discussions on the recommendations and their impact be undertaken in their individual sessions, in order to ensure more informed consideration and a more efficient division of work between the two Committees.

27. The Committees agreed that further discussions of the JIU report should be supported by an additional document containing a detailed time-bound action plan with action offices indicated, covering on-going or planned follow-up activities. Accordingly, they requested that this document be prepared for their next sessions, so as to be able to advise the Council more fully on the possible reactions from FAO Governing Bodies to the JIU report, at its session in November 2003.


1 Doc. JM 03.1/1