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Successive reforms leave FAO fitter for the 21st century

Significant savings and efficiency gains achieved over the years

27 June 2011, Rome - FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said today that the major reform of the Organization which he implemented during his tenure since 1994 has made it "leaner, more focussed and fitter for the 21st Century".
Addressing the 37th Session of the FAO Conference, FAO's top governing body, Diouf termed the current reform process, which follows a comprehensive independent external evaluation, as "one of the most profound and comprehensive reforms in the history of the whole United Nations system".
Today's FAO is completely different which elected him as its head 18 years ago. It is "horizontal, flatter and less hierarchical; a structure that is results-based ... with stronger accountability and a greater delegation of authority ... both at headquarters and in decentralized offices", he said.

Universal food security

His objective when he took office in January 1994 was to transform the Organization and refocus its work so it could not only meet the challenges of the post cold war era but also better serve Member Nations and the global community to realize the vital goal of universal food security. As early as June 1994, he presented to the Council his proposals to reshape the orientations and structures of FAO.
"The vision I had 18 years ago is close to reality. I can see it. I can already feel it in many countries, in particular in Africa, now achieving food security," he said.
He noted the reform process is scheduled to be completed over the next 18 months and wished his successor, Mr. José Graziano da Silva of Brazil - elected by the Conference yesterday - success in bringing it to a successful conclusion.
Savings and efficiency gains

Main features of the reform to date include a 54 percent cut in headquarters staff, a 53 percent reduction in Director-level posts, as well as extensive decentralization of operations, streamlined administrative and financial procedures and improved planning and budgeting, plus significant savings and efficiency gains amounting to USD 111.9 million annually since 1994 through reduced input costs, process improvements and better cost recovery measures. Achievements have also been realized in the area of geographic and gender representations among the employees of the Organization.
"The reforms carried out since 1994 have produced definite priorities, a more flexible structure, decentralized operations, modernized management and streamlined procedures," Diouf underlined. With the introduction of the results-based framework, now the focus is not only on what FAO does but also on the impact of its activities, thus greater accountability.
"It is true that I will leave the Organization in which I spent a significant part of my life with at times some frustration, but also with a lot of satisfaction, I must say," he declared.
Diouf asked the Conference to approve a 4.6 percent budget increase for the 2012-2013 biennium to $1,046.9 million to enable the Organization to achieve its programme of work. In addition, voluntary contributions from members and other partners are expected to bring in more than one billion over the biennium. The new budget was prepared taking into due account "the need to minimize the impact on Members' assessments in this period of difficult economic and financial conditions," he noted.
Diouf thanked all Member Nations for their confidence and continuous support and expressed gratitude for Italy's hospitality. He also thanked all FAO's staff members for their constant commitment and enthusiasm and his wife and family for their support and patience.
Diouf will remain in office until 31 December 2011.

Source: Media Centre FAO

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