FAO Conference approves budget increase
Hails Diouf’s service to the Organization
Rome - FAO’s governing Conference has unanimously approved a regular programme budget of $1,005.6 million for the Organization for the 2012-13 biennium, equivalent to a 1.4 percent increase over the current biennium.
The budget provides for full implementation of the proposed programme of work as well as the Immediate Plan of Action for FAO renewal. Recognizing the need for FAO’s programmes to be financially protected, Members called on the Director-General to make efficiency gains and one time-savings of $34.5 million beyond the economies that he had already programmed.
The level of the budget and its unanimous adoption was considered an expression of confidence in the Organization by the Conference, which last week elected José Graziano da Silva, a national of Brazil, to be the next Director-General, starting on 1 January 2012.
In addition, FAO expects some $1.4 billion of voluntary contributions from members and partners over the next biennium. The fact that such extra-budgetary resources exceed the regular budget is further evidence of Members’ confidence in the Organization, Diouf said in his closing speech to the Conference.
Hailing Diouf’s “remarkable achievements in the course of his three successful terms” as Director-General, the Conference announced that following the recommendation of the 26th FAO Regional Conference for Africa (Angola, 4-7 May 2010), it has established a “Jacques Diouf Award for Food Security” as a continuing tribute to his stewardship of the Organization.
The $25 000 dollar prize will be awarded every two years to the individual or institution considered by the Selection Committee as having made the most significant contribution to the improvement of global food security in the previous biennium.
In a resolution the Conference recalled “the eminent services rendered by Dr Jacques Diouf to the Organization ... over a period during which the world was faced with food insecurity, food price instability and climate change challenges of exceptional magnitude and unprecedented complexity”.
Under Diouf’s guidance the Organization has taken major steps towards resolving these problems by ensuring that agriculture is back on the global agenda, the resolution said.
It also underlined the Director-General’s “strong commitment to reform and the initiatives taken throughout his tenure to enhance the Organization’s capacity to better play its part in defeating hunger and attaining food security,” and expressed the Conference’s “deep gratitude ... for his outstanding services to the Organization and his unfailing dedication to the aims and ideals of FAO”.
Separate tributes and praises to Diouf, who is stepping down on 31 December after 18 years in office, were also expressed by individual member countries and by Pope Benedict XVI when he received Conference delegates at an audience on Friday.
The Pope praised the Director-General’s “competence and devotion, which enabled FAO to face problems and crises stemming from changing global realities that affected its field of activities in a sometimes dramatic manner.”
Praise for Diouf’s leadership also came from FAO Staff Representatives. In a statement to the Conference, Margaret Eldon, general secretary of the Union of General Service Staff, expressed appreciation for “18 years of tireless service”.
Throughout the years of downsizing, reorganization and decentralization, Mr Diouf took care that changes were introduced in ways that were least detrimental to staff, and we thank him for that sensitivity" she said, speaking also on behalf of the Association of Professionals in FAO.
A further tribute came from the Philippines, which carried out the external audit on FAO’s financial statements for the 2008-2009 biennium, the last to be certified. Philippines delegate Segfredo Serrano noted that, “Under [Diouf’s] leadership FAO reform has undertaken many painful but forward-looking changes to revitalise the Organization. Sometimes there are frank discussions and divergent views on FAO reform issues but Dr Diouf has always faithfully implemented the decisions of the governing bodies.”
French Agriculture Minister Bruno Le Maire told the Conference he wished to thank the Director-General “for the quality of his work he accomplished during 17 years of service to world food security and planet’s the agricultural governance.” France’s Cour des Comptes has also acted as an external auditor of FAO’s accounts.
American delegate Kathleen Merrigan, the US Deputy Secretary for Agriculture, said Diouf “helped usher in a process of renewal and reform that is transforming the UN’s largest specialized agency into a more dynamic, responsive and accountable organization”.
AU Summit adopts Jacques Diouf Food Security Prize
On the last day of the FAO Conference, the African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government meeting in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, agreed to establish a “Jacques Diouf Food Security Prize”.
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