Hundred and Twenty-fourth Session
Rome, 23-28 June 2003
Report of the Eighty-ninth Session of the
MATTERS REQUIRING ATTENTION BY THE COUNCIL
Major Programme 2.1 Agricultural Production and Support Systems
Major Programme 2.2 Food and Agriculture Policy and Development
Major Programme 2.3 Fisheries
Major Programme 2.4 Forestry
Major Programme 2.5 Contribution to Sustainable Development and Special Programme Thrusts
Summary Programme of Work and Budget 2004-05
Section I: Programme Framework
Section IV: Programme Budget
Chapter 2: Technical and Economic Programmes
Chapter 3: Cooperation and Partnership
Chapter 4: Technical Cooperation Programme
Joint FAO/WHO Evaluation of the Codex Alimentarius and other
The Evaluation of Programme 2.2.2 (Food and Agricultural
Priority Setting in the context of Programme Planning
Thematic Review of FAO’s Training Activities
The Evaluation of the Special Programme for Food Security
The Evaluation of FAO’s Policy Assistance
Indicative Rolling Workplan of Strategic and Programme Evaluations
Report on Important Programme Developments
UN Joint Inspection Unit Reports
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
1. The Committee submits to the Council the following report of its Eighty-ninth Session.
2. The following Members were present:
|Vice-Chairperson acting as Chairperson|
|Mr. B. Hankey (Canada)
|Mr. B. J. Hughes (Australia)
Mr. M. Moungui (Cameroon)
Mr. Z. Li (China)
Mr. D.A. Bonilla Giraldo (Colombia)
Mr. A.H. Haidar (Lebanon)
Mr. R.B. Khalid (Malaysia)
Mr. M.M. Touré (Mali)
H.E. E. Wermuth (Netherlands)
Ms. A.M. Baiardi Quesnel (Paraguay)
Mr. M.S.M.A. Harbi (Sudan)
3. The Agenda and Timetable for the meeting were approved.
4. In the light of the resignations of the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson, in accordance with the Rules of Procedure of the Programme Committee, Mr. B. Hankey (Canada) was elected Vice-Chairperson and assumed the functions of the Chairperson for the remainder of the Chairperson’s term of office. Mr. Wermuth (Netherlands) initially also stood for election to this position but subsequently withdrew to allow the election to be uncontested. The Committee then proceeded to elect Mr. Z. Li as the new Vice-Chairperson.
5. The Committee welcomed the improved format of the document, including the detailed information on planned biennial outputs. It observed that the proposals had sought to respond in the first instance to the major recent international events bearing on FAO’s mandate, including the World Food Summit/five years later and the World Summit for Sustainable Development. More generally, the Committee appreciated that the proposals were consistent with the longer-term orientations of the Strategic Framework 2000-2015 and the entities and activities proposed in the Medium Term Plan 2004-2009, the substance of which had been endorsed by the last Council.
6. The Committee noted that, given the timing of the various meetings, the outcome of the recent discussions in the Technical Committees of the Council such as COFI, COFO and COAG could not be reflected in the SPWB, but would be taken into account in the full PWB. It was advised that an information document would be submitted to the June 2003 Council to apprise the latter of the potential impact of the requests from the Technical Committees.
7. The Committee recognized that the document contained the Director-General’s proposal corresponding to the real growth (RG) scenario amounting to an increase in resources of US$ 35 million over the approved PWB 2002-03 at constant costs, and highlighted the impact of a second scenario at zero-real growth (ZRG).
8. Bearing in mind the joint discussion with the Finance Committee which would as usual consider policy aspects such as the budget level, the Committee agreed to focus on the substance of the proposals, although some Members did refer to their respective Government’s views or preferences as to possible budget levels for the next biennium.
9. The Committee noted that the reduced levels of resources in the ZRG scenario vis-à-vis the RG proposals, tended to affect negatively some areas deemed of high priority. Many Members felt that this undesirable situation was in their view a major justification for supporting RG so that the Organization could meet in a satisfactory manner the expectations and expressed needs of the membership. Other Members considered that areas of highest priority should be adequately resourced, irrespective of budget levels.
10. While the Committee recalled that it would return to the complex issue of priority-setting under item 4 of its agenda, it realized that its present examination of the substance of PWB proposals illustrated the difficulties of rendering meaningful advice to the Council on relative priorities. The Committee agreed that important dimensions of this problem were to what level of detail it should go, and the availability and cost of information needed for this purpose. It agreed in particular that on this occasion going to the level of individual outputs would not be appropriate, in the time available and in the absence of even more detailed and costly information, and that it should preferably offer advice of a macro level nature, such as on the relevance and intended scope of programmes and entities, as well as the desirable balance among them.
11. The Committee discussed in this connection the usefulness for the review of PWB proposals of having as background material an internal compendia of views on individual priorities, as might have been expressed by Members during recent recent inter-governmental meetings, either collectively as transpired in respective reports or singly, through Verbatim records, where available.
12. Among other aspects, the Committee welcomed the intended continuation in the next biennium of active inter-departmental cooperation under the Priority Areas for Inter-disciplinary Action (PAIAs). It recalled that these PAIAs had been highlighted for the first time in the Medium Term Plan 2002-07 and reiterated in the Medium Term Plan 2004-09, thereby ensuring their continued endorsement by FAO Governing Bodies. While recognizing, therefore, that work under these PAIAs had only started in earnest in the current biennium and also the differences in scope and nature among PAIAs, the Committee agreed that it would be useful to review progress under PAIAs at a future session in the next biennium. It also agreed that the PAIAs were not cast in stone and that they could evolve flexibly depending on contexts and needs, which may require adjusting work under established ones or adding new ones.
13. The Committee focused more particularly on Chapters 2, 3 and 4 and made the following observations.
14. The Committee broadly endorsed the relative priorities as transpired under the Real Growth scenario for this Major Programme. It highlighted the key role of this Major Programme in helping countries to achieve international and national development goals, through the development and use of new agricultural technologies, the sustainable management of land and water resources, viable services for agribusiness development and trade, and extensive capacity building. The Committee appreciated the special emphasis given to important international regulatory instruments including IPPC2, PIC3 and the International Treaty on PGRFA4.
15. The Committee requested that the scope and funding of some entities and PAIAs be adjusted in the full PWB, based on guidance received from the Seventeenth Session of COAG, including for work on Biotechnology, Biosecurity, Ethics, and Good Agricultural Practices. It also acknowledged the continued importance of work on livestock development and water, especially in Africa.
16. The Committee noted that entity 214A9 Enhancing Food Quality and Safety by Strengthening Handling, Processing and Marketing in the Food Chain addressed primarily capacity building and the needs of developing countries in providing safe food for national, regional and international markets. It noted the Secretariat’s assurances that this entity was not related to the draft strategy document on a food chain approach to food safety and quality, discussed at the Seventeenth Session of COAG.
17. While the Committee expressed concern that enhanced work on important priority areas could not be accommodated under the ZRG scenario, it did not identify any activities of the Major Programme that could be reduced. In particular, the Committee reaffirmed its call, as endorsed by Council and reiterated by COAG, to fund IPPC at the level of its biennial business plan under any budget scenario. However, it noted that accommodating this requirement from within existing Major Programme resources would be detrimental to other major priorities and urged the Secretariat to seek to identify additional resources for IPPC at organizational level.
18. The Committee recalled the key contribution of Major Programme 2.2 to analysing progress towards achievement of the World Food Summit target, whereas it also covered other essential core priority areas of the Organization. With a few exceptions, it considered that resource allocations responded to governing bodies’ expectations. In this connection, several Members expressed concern that the indicated reduction or cancellation of outputs at the ZRG level appeared to be at the expense of activities of direct interest to developing countries.
19. The Commmittee reaffirmed the recommendation of the 17th Session of COAG that FAO provide its share of the additional resources required for the recommendations of the Joint FAO/WHO Evaluation of Codex Alimentarius and other FAO and WHO Work on Food Standards to be implemented in full, noting that this should normally apply irrespective of the budget level. In view of the request of COAG, that the draft strategy document on the food chain approach be revised and resubmitted for consideration at its 18th Session, the Committee agreed that the resources allocated to the proposed new entity, 221P8 – Food Quality and Safety throughout the Food Chain, be reduced as the Secretariat undertook, and that the corresponding savings be reallocated to Codex (221P2) and Codex-related (221P6) work.
20. The Committee noted planned work on HIV/AIDS within Programme 2.2.1 – Nutrition, Food Quality and Safety, and felt that HIV/AIDS was a particularly suitable subject for a PAIA involving all Major Programmes concerned.
21. The Committee underlined the importance of capacity building in developing countries for WTO agricultural trade negotiations and trade facilitation, including standard setting. It also reaffirmed the priority given to strengthening information and statistical systems at the global, regional and national levels, as well as for providing assessments and outlooks on commodity markets and food security.
22. The Committee concluded that not all of the additional resources required for Codex and Codex-related work could stem from savings within this Major Programme, and that it would be appropriate to identify further savings at the Organizational level for this purpose.
23. The Committee appreciated the continued major focus on the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the International Plans of Action, together with other international fisheries instruments to support national efforts for long-term sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture. It noted that few changes had been introduced in the programme structure and that the budget allocations among programmes had been generally preserved in relative terms.
24. The Committee recognised that several activities deriving from recommendations and requests from COFI could not yet be reflected in the SPWB 2004-05 for Fisheries but would be in the full PWB. Furthermore, it had not been possible – even under the real growth budget level – to accommodate the wide range of activities with firm deadlines, linked to the Plan of Implementation adopted by WSSD in Johannesburg.
25. The Committee received additional clarification on activities to support the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (including the IPOA on IUU fishing), as well as in other priority areas such as fisheries information and statistics, aquaculture and inland fisheries, the sustainable development of small-scale fisheries and the reduction of fishing efforts.
26. The Committee was also advised that, due to budgetary reasons and uncertainty of a clear direction from respective governing bodies, the involvement of the Fisheries Department in CITES-related activities had been kept to a bare minimum. While a modest amount had been allocated to this under the Real Growth budget level, it was by no means sufficient to adequately cover the likely increasing involvement of the Fisheries Department in this important area.
27. The Committee stressed the desirability of providing increased resources for this Major Programme, irrespective of the budget level.
28. The Committee commended FAO for its leadership in international cooperation on Forestry as well as its active involvement in supporting national efforts, including through field activities which were well appreciated by donors, and broadly endorsed the programme priorities in the Summary PWB. The Committee expected the Secretariat to ensure that the recommendations of the sixteenth session of the Committee on Forestry (COFO) would be reflected in the full PWB.
29. The Committee welcomed the proposed budget for Major Programme 2.4 in the Real Growth scenario, and recommended that the budget under the Zero Real Growth scenario should be restored to at least the same level as in the current PWB 2002-03.
30. The Committee requested the Secretariat to eliminate all references to “gobernanza forestal” in the Spanish text as the precise meaning of the phrase had not been agreed upon in the relevant international fora.
31. The Committee noted the relevance of issues addressed by the Sustainable Development Department, particularly the cross-sectoral programmes, for which Major Programme 2.5 catalysed inter-disciplinary action throughout the Organization. It stressed in this connection work on gender, rural development, HIV/AIDS, and Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for development.
32. Some Members considered that it might be timely to carry out evaluations of the effectiveness of Major Programme 2.5 in supporting important cross-sectoral actions. Other Members felt that, in view of Major Programme 2.5’s short period of existence, such evaluations would be premature.
33. In noting the emphasis put on HIV/AIDS, the Committee observed that other diseases affecting rural populations and their livelihoods, such as malaria, TB, trypanosomiasis, and respiratory diseases, should also be considered.
34. Some Members expressed concern about the pace of implementation and the lack of focus on the SARD Initiative. In their view there was a perceived lack of momentum despite the emphasis on the issue at the Johannesburg WSSD. They urged adequate attention to the matter to redress this.
35. In respect of Programme 2.5.6, after having considered the report on follow-up action to the SPFS evaluation which it had considered last year, the Committee expressed general satisfaction with progress under the SPFS. It was encouraged by the follow-up given to the recommendations contained in the SPFS evaluation, particularly on targetting, monitoring and evaluation. Members from beneficiary countries gave account of positive national experiences, and stressed that the SPFS increasingly served as a platform and concrete framework for agricultural development and food security in their countries. The Committee noted that national ownership, as one of the most important features of the Programme, helped ensure that SPFS supported action was sustainable. Many Members welcomed the expansion of the South-South Cooperation (SSC) component, as an effective means for transferring know-how between developing countries and urged for further donor support to the Programme.
36. The Committee noted that the proposals under both scenarios covered the need for further strengthening of the management and coordination component of the Programme, in order to take account of the increasing number of SPFS projects, which were increasingly being funded from beneficiary countries’ own resources. Most Members indicated that they would not support a reduction to the SPFS appropriation. The Committee stressed the importance of an adequate Regular Programme provision for the SPFS.
37. The Committee expressed wide support for the valuable programmes included under this Chapter, which were geared to support direct FAO action in the field.
38. In particular, the Committee recognized the importance of providing sound policy advice to individual countries and regional groupings, as well as further development of the field programme in support of sustainable agricultural and rural development and food security. It also welcomed the accent placed on an effective country focus, and on supporting country-level coordination efforts such as UNDAFs, CCAs and PRSPs.
39. In recalling the expanding responsibilities entrusted to FAORs and changing circumstances at country level, including the increased delegation of decision-making of major bilateral assistance programmes to the local level, the Committee reiterated the importance of appointing qualified FAO Representatives and of their performance appraisal. It received assurances that effective mechanisms were in place to ensure this.
40. The Committee noted the recent expansion of emergency activities in FAO. It enquired about the impact of this situation on the level of support provided by Technical Divisions and received confirmation that the required technical support was planned in close cooperation with TCE and that arrangements for reimbursement operated in a satisfactory manner, so that no major tensions were created.
41. While recognizing the demand-driven unprogrammed nature of TCP, the Committee regretted that the information included in the SPWB on this key programme had been too succinct, and looked forward to more comprehensive information being provided in future documents.
42. Many Members reiterated the importance they attached to the TCP and to seeing adequate resources being provided under the Chapter. It was observed that, while TCP projects were clearly of most direct benefit to recipient countries in assisting them to deal with development problems, the Programme was of benefit to all countries, given that inputs to projects came from all regions.
43. The Committee considered the document prepared by the Secretariat, with the benefit of an additional audio-visual presentation of a sample of methodological tools used in a number of international and national institutions to assist with priority-setting.
44. The Committee considered that the document well described the process currently used in FAO, including the application of “top down” approach on preferred priorities as expressed by Members in major fora, coupled with the internal “bottom up” application of a set of detailed criteria to appraise proposed activities for the MTP and PWB. It noted that these criteria were founded on those established by the FAO Council in November 1995. The Committee also appreciated that the document had sought to highlight a number of important conceptual and practical dimensions in priority setting.
45. The Committee fully recognized the complexity of the issue of priority setting in the context of an inter-governmental Organization such as FAO. The Committee drew attention in particular to the need for greater involvement of Members.
46. The Committee felt that it could not in the time available carry out an exhaustive review of all pertinent components of the problem and thus advise the Council on desirable changes to current arrangements. It, nevertheless, agreed on a number of basic premises.
47. The Committee felt it pertinent to reiterate that reaching agreement on priorities among the Members was essentially a political process. A sense of greater involvement and influence by Members was predicated on willingness on their part to engage in meaningful “give and take” negotiations, going beyond just stating and defending priorities of direct interest to them. The Committee agreed that it would be useful to explore further how to foster such increased involvement of the Membership, which it felt included enhancing the capacity of the Programme Committee itself in rendering advice on relative priorities, thereby facilitating the above process.
48. The Committee agreed that methodological tools such as the application of criteria or weighting methods, were only useful inasmuch as they can facilitate understanding of the implications of possible choices, but should not be seen as substituting for the political process. In general, it was felt that such methods were unlikely to facilitate discussion in the Governing Bodies. In this connection, however, the Committee appreciated the candid exposition in the document and in the presentation of the weaknesses inherent in the internal analytical methods used by the Secretariat, which thus required strengthening, particularly where such methods could possibly have greater application.
49. The Committee agreed that it would need to return to the issue at its next session, with the benefit of additional documents prepared by the Secretariat, where the latter would seek to address two aspects with respect to priority setting for the PWB and MTP:
50. The Committee commended the evaluation report for its thoroughness, transparency and independence of evaluation. The importance member countries attached to the evaluation was testified to by their input into the evaluation process and the seriousness with which it was being addressed in the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
51. The Committee fully agreed with the four main areas for improvement in FAO and WHO food standards work identified by the evaluation, i.e.:
52. The Committee discussed the recommendations of the evaluation in some detail, noting that these had been the subject of an in-depth discussion at a Special Session of the Codex Alimentarius Commission in February and had also been discussed in WHO’s Executive Board in January 2003. It was noted that the Codex Alimentarius Commission had committed itself to implementing strategies that would meet the objectives of the recommendations of the evaluation and had begun a process of consultation and debate so that the main recommendations addressed to the Commission could be taken up in the Commission's June meeting. The Committee joined the Codex Alimentarius Commission in supporting the overall thrusts of the evaluation report. Members in particular emphasized the importance of:
53. There was general agreement on the desirability of annual sessions of the Codex Alimentarius Commission.
54. In common with the Codex Alimentarius Commission, the Committee emphasized the need for FAO and WHO to give high priority to allocation of the necessary Regular Programme resources. Some members also noted that it would be difficult to realize this priority in the absence of an increased overall budget for FAO.
55. While in general supporting the intent of the recommendations members also questioned the need for and practicality of:
56. Varying views were expressed on the priority which should be given to non-health related aspects of standard setting. Views also differed on the desirability of Codex developing agreement on acceptable levels of protection for health, for use in setting its own standards.
57. The Codex Alimentarius Commission and both FAO and WHO management had already put in process a programme of work to consult further with members and move forward in developing strategies to implement the main thrusts of the evaluation recommendations. This needed to be discussed further in the FAO and WHO Governing Bodies both to ensure resource availability and that the direction of change represented the interests of all members. The Programme Committee would review the progress in two years’ time with a view to maintaining the momentum of change and requested a follow-up report at that time.
58. The Committee appreciated the evaluation report, which was informative and comprehensive, providing a useful analysis of issues and recommendations. It welcomed constructive observations of the External Peer Review Panel and the pro-active response of Management to the evaluation. The Committee also highlighted the importance of statistical work as one of the basic core functions of the Organization, and agreed that building on its sound work, FAO needed to maintain a lead role in global statistics for food and agriculture. It recognized that in this regard, FAO faced considerable challenges, including (a) the need to assist in strengthening national capacity for producing reliable and timely statistical data, especially among a number of developing countries; (b) increasing demands for more and diverse statistical data necessary for development planning and analytical work at all levels; (c) the importance of improving cost-effectiveness of statistical work among the concerned FAO units in the context of serious resource constraints; and (d) the need to ensure adequate resources to underpin FAO’s statistical work.
59. The Committee endorsed the conclusions and recommendations of the evaluation in general. It underlined the following recommendations in particular:
60. The Committee noted with satisfaction that actions were under way to address many of these recommendations. For example, plans were in hand to establish the International Advisory Panel and the FAOSTAT 2 project was to be launched in 2003 with the resources from the payment of arrears. Regarding the recommendation made by the External Review Panel to consolidate all statistical data production services into one unit (ESS), the Committee noted Management’s indication that the current structure offered benefits for member countries by integrating statistical activities into the chain of policy advice, assessment and support to member countries. While endorsing the Management proposal to maintain the current decentralized structure, the Committee requested a report, in two years’ time, on progress being made in improving coordination of statistical activities in the Organization.
61. The Committee noted the relevance of issues addressed by the Thematic Review and supported decisions taken by Management.
62. The Committee observed that training is a key element in FAO’s technical programmes and activities and recognized the efforts being made in improving the quality of the Organization’s training activities.
63. The Committee noted that experience with the established corporate focal point and Training Network is still recent and it is thus too early to draw conclusions on their effectiveness in improving the quality of training provided by FAO.
64. The Committee requested a follow-up report to be submitted to the PC in 2-3 years’ time.
65. The Committee took up this item in conjunction with its consideration of Programme 2.5.6 Food Production in Support of Food Security in LIFDCs under item 3: Summary Programme of Work and Budget 2004-05. The Committee’s discussion is therefore reported upon in that section of this report.
66. The Committee expressed its general satisfaction with the Progress Report on Follow-up Action presented by the Secretariat. The document provided an encouraging picture of progress in improving the policy assistance work of the Organization since the Evaluation Report and the Management Response. The Committee agreed on the importance of FAO assistance to the policy-related activities in support of developing countries’ priorities in the broad field of sustainable agriculture and rural development, and food security improvement.
67. The Committee noted with satisfaction the on-going effort to place policy-related assistance in the forefront of the field programme at national and regional level as well as the focus on a programmatic approach in addressing national and regional priorities, taking into consideration the specific comparative advantages of FAO. It was also informed that an increasing priority was being given to support the national Poverty Reduction Strategies and Common Country Assessment/United Nations Development Frameworks. Members from developing countries underscored the importance of the assistance provided by FAO in the various demand-driven aspects of policy formulation, implementation and evaluation. The policy assistance support provided to African countries within the context of NEPAD was noted with satisfaction, as well as the assistance provided to Regional Economic Organizations all over the world.
68. The Committee stressed the need for further strengthening the reporting process, particularly in connection with the holistic nature of the policy work, including the various levels related to natural resources management, sustainability, institutional development and capacity building. The Committee also encouraged the Secretariat to pursue the on-going process of improving the project formulation process, particularly in the case of those projects addressing specific policy related objectives. Some members suggested that information on the evolution of the staff/non-staff resources rate emerging from the reform process of TCA and from the decentralisation of the policy assistance work should be provided in future submissions.
69. The Committee expressed its satisfaction with the process of biennial consultation on the work-programme of independent evaluations to be conducted by the Evaluation Service. It also appreciated the overall scope of the evaluations being proposed. It agreed that the emphasis of such evaluations should be on in-depth assessment of programmes and activities supporting specific strategies of the Strategic Framework and the Medium Term Plan, while not excluding evaluations of individual Programmes.
70. The Committee endorsed the priorities for evaluation as proposed in the document PC 89/7 with the following changes for the biennium 2004-05:
71. In making these proposals for change, the Committee recognised that this would entail some changes in the coverage of topics in the original work programme proposed for the biennium.
72. While noting the developments reported in this report, the Committee asked that greater efforts should be made in the future to be more precise as to the cost effect on the Regular Programme budget and to impact on approved programmes, so as to increase the usefulness of this type of report for enlightenment of the membership. Enquiries were made in particular regarding the relationship of the Anti-Hunger Programme to pertinent current and planned activities. It was also observed that the Water, Energy, Health, Agriculture and Biodiversity (WEHAB) initiative taken in connection with the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg last year, would have merited mention in the document.
- Involvement of Civil Society Organizations other than NGOs and the Private Sector in Technical Cooperation Activities: Experiences and Prospects of the United Nations System (JIU/REP/2002/1)
- Extension of Water-related Technical Cooperation Projects to End-beneficiaries: Bridging the Gap between the Normative and the Operational in the United Nations System (Case Studies in Two African Countries) (JIU/REP/2002/4)
73. The Committee addressed these reports, but did not conclude its discussion. It requested the Secretariat to provide a document to its next session to enlighten it on the institutional relationship of the JIU and the Organization, and the revised procedure for handling recommendations addressed to Legislative Bodies. In the light of this document the Committee will examine the above-mentioned reports at its September 2003 session.
74. The Committee took note of this progress report.
75. The Chairperson indicated his intention to enter into informal dialogue with members to discuss various working methods of the Committee, both verbally and by e-mail exchange, with a view to putting forward matters for discussion under this heading at the next meeting.
76. The Committee agreed to draw to the attention of the Council that, in addition to the standing items on its agenda, it would discuss the following subjects at its next session:
77. Furthermore, under the standing item of Joint Inspection Unit reports and based upon a document to be prepared by the Secretariat, the Committee would also discuss the relationship between the Organization and the JIU as it relates to the endorsement or not of recommendations made by the JIU specifically addressed to the legislative body.
1 PC 89/1 – PC 89/INF/1
2 International Plant Protection Convention
3 International Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides and the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Procedure for Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides in International Trade
4 Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture