Head of UN food and agricultural agency calls for reforms, adequate budget
With over 852 million hungry people in the world, the newly re-elected director-general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today called on the agency’s 189 members to adopt reforms making it more responsive to members’ needs, and to provide the funds necessary to meet its daunting challenges.
“It is high time we put a stop to this tragedy which also costs developing countries billions of dollars in lost productivity and earnings,” Jacques Diouf said of the scourge of hunger, outlining his proposals to streamline the organization to the biennial governing Conference, which will decide the organization’s budget for 2006-2007.
The reforms range from strengthening FAO’s partnerships with other UN agencies to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), beginning with slashing hunger and rural poverty in half by 2015, to decentralization that will bring expertise and services closer to member countries, to where the needs actually arise.
“I am convinced that the reform proposals that have been submitted for your consideration are essential to the life of the Organization and that they need to be launched without delay and as a whole, as a single coherent package,” Mr. Diouf said.
On the 2006-2007 budget the Conference has before it three scenarios: zero real growth, which would maintain purchasing power; real growth of about 2.5 per cent per year; and zero nominal growth, which would in fact represent a real reduction of 5.7 percent.
Mr. Diouf noted that for 2004-2005, the FAO Conference had approved a budget level of $749.1 million, which was an increase in nominal terms over the previous biennium but in real terms meant a cut in resources of some $51 million.
“Obviously, if the Members endorse these new reforms, the decision this Conference takes on the budget will have an influence on the pace and effectiveness of their implementation,” he said. “I therefore appeal to your collective wisdom in providing FAO with the resources it needs to meet your expectations in the best possible way and to make a substantial contribution to the objective of reducing hunger and poverty.”
On Saturday, Mr. Diouf, a Senegalese agricultural expert, was re-elected to a third six-year term as Director-General of FAO, which has 188 member countries plus one member organization, the European Community.
Before his first election in 1993, he was Senegal’s Ambassador to the UN. He has also served as Secretary-General of the Central Bank for West African States in Dakar and Executive Secretary for the African Groundnut Council and the West Africa Rice Development Association.