FAO chief pushes for priority reforms

Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General José Graziano da Silva has asked for an increase in the agency’s budget, while at the same time proposing to freeze staff-related and administrative costs in 2014. Photo by: Rein Skullerud / WFP / United Nations

The head of the Food and Agriculture Organization has asked for an increase in the agency’s budget, while at the same time proposing to freeze staff-related and administrative costs in 2014.

José Graziano da Silva outlined these proposals in his opening remarks at the 145th session of the FAO Council, which is the organization’s executive arm and consists of 49 elected member states. The council is expected to endorse at the end of its meeting on Dec. 7 a new set of strategic objectives to guide FAO’s future operations.

Spending levels for FAO’s next program of work and budget for 2014-15 are not on the agenda but da Silva stressed that any new objective must be completed by budget levels that would allow FAO to do its work efficiently.

“Even a small, real increase in the next budget level will help ensure that the new cross-cutting Strategic Objectives may be achieved, in addition to acting as a catalyst for mobilizing further extra-budgetary resources,” the FAO director-general said.

Any increase in the budget would be used for programs and reforms, da Silva assured the council. To avoid channeling new funding to administrative areas and human resources, he proposed freezing “the actual staff resources” in the 2014-15 budget.

Also endorsed by da Silva were proposed amendments to FAO’s general rules on transitions between the agency’s directors-general. He said he wanted his successors to avoid the problems he encountered when he first assumed the position in January.

“I am voluntarily pursuing a course that would in effect mean giving up part of my own powers to introduce the concept of an orderly transition in FAO,” da Silva said.

Becoming a better partner

On top of proposals to strengthen FAO as a knowledge-based organization, da Silva also called on the council to endorse a new framework that would guide the agency’s engagement with civil society partners.

“Strengthening partnerships in general and with civil society in particular is a central element of the vision for FAO that I presented to you,” da Silva explained. “Your endorsement will send a strong signal that we are truly committed to opening up FAO to meaningful partnerships.”

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  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.