Reforming FAO: into the next millennium

FAO's actions and priorities in 2000 and beyond: Dr Jacques Diouf, FAO Director-General, meeting the media at the Organization's Headquarters in Rome, 4 July 2000.

Listen to or download the following excerpts:

FAO Director-General's introductory remarks: Strategic changes in a new world environment (1min40 sec)

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Dr Diouf answers questions from journalists on issues relating to food and agriculture:

Question by Eric Lyman, Bureau of National Affairs, Washington: FAO and genetically modified organisms (1min15sec)

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In mp3 (Broadcast quality, to be downloaded, 576 Kb)

Question by Mitsuo Sakuri, KYODO News-Japan: Agricultural cooperation between South and North Korea (1min44sec)

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If you can't download, please call for a feed: Eric Deleu (radio unit) 039-06-5705 6863 / 3223


Over the past decade, the world has gone through profound political, economic, social and technological changes that have led FAO to undertake important reforms to face the new challenges. "Reforming FAO: into the new millennium" reviews the organizational changes FAO has made since 1994, the year Dr. Jacques Diouf was elected to his first six-year term as the Organization's Director-General. In the publication's foreword, Dr. Diouf writes, "the major surgery carried out on FAO's structure, governance mechanisms and operational and financial procedures has lent a much greater degree of coherence to our wide-ranging and multidisciplinary activities."

Reform means forging new alliances

Throughout its reforms, FAO has strengthened its focus on its principal goal: working towards "Food For All". In 1994, the Special Programme for Food Security was created to assist low-income food-deficit countries in rapidly increasing agricultural production and improving access to food, through a participatory approach and in an environmentally sustainable way.

In 1996, the Heads of State and Government and high-level representatives of 186 countries, gathering in Rome at the World Food Summit convened by FAO, adopted a major Plan of Action for world food security. They agreed on the goal of cutting by half the number of undernourished in the world by 2015.

However, within a context of steadily declining official development assistance for agriculture over the past 15 years, FAO has been forced to do more with fewer resources. Further to considerable savings and efficiency gains, one of Organization's strategies for coping with this situation is to increase its partnerships, including its links with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector.

In 1994, the Unit for Cooperation with the Private Sector and NGOs was set up within the Technical Cooperation Department. This unit provides a focal point for policy matters and coordinate cooperation with private sector and civil society organizations at the national and international levels.

Funds approved for emergency operations have increased steadily since 1995.

FAO has also established a series of partnership programmes. The programmes for technical cooperation among developing countries and technical cooperation among countries in transition have enabled the Organization to deliver its services more efficiently and contribute to national capacity building. Other partnership programmes are tapping the potential of retired experts, visiting scholars, young professionals and volunteers.

FAO's emergency operations have also increased. In 1999, over US$120 million was approved for projects designed to help communities struck by disaster to resume food production and other vital activities.

The decentralization process continues

To ensure that operations are cost-effective and responsive to regional and national needs, FAO has continued its policy of decentralization. The regional offices in Accra, Bangkok, Cairo and Santiago have been strengthened and have now assumed full responsibility for organizing the FAO regional conferences.

Most of FAO's field operations have also been decentralized to regional offices. In addition, five subregional offices have been set up in Harare (Zimbabwe), Apia (Samoa), Bridgetown (Barbados), Tunis (Tunisia) and Budapest (Hungary). The new publication makes it clear, however, that the movement toward greater decentralization must be balanced with "the need to maintain a critical mass of expertise at headquarters so as to uphold FAO's role as a centre of excellence."

At a press conference on 4 July, Dr. Diouf expressed his conviction that "the reform process carried out by FAO since 1994 has provided a solid foundation to face the challenges of the new millennium." However, he recognized that for the Organization to achieve its goals, reform must be an ongoing process.

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4 July 2000

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