Remarks 172 FAO Council, Item 3
Item 3: Medium Term Plan (Reviewed) 2022-2025 and Program of Work and Budget 2024-2025
U.S. Statement, As Delivered by Charge d’Affaires Rodney Hunter
April 24, 2023
Thank you, Chair.
The United States appreciates the work that went into developing the budget proposals and appreciates the Director General’s focus on improving human resources, setting a positive tone at the top, and fostering an agile organization focused on innovation.
With over 2.4 billion people not having access to adequate food, FAO has an important role to play in the food security crisis we are all confronting.
And we are in a crisis. Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked war against Ukraine has put millions worldwide at even greater risk of hunger, exacerbating the negative effects of COVID-19, climate change, and other conflicts on our global food systems.
And as the DG noted in his opening remarks, FAO has stepped up its efforts in responding to member requests to do more to respond given the important role the organization has to respond to this crisis, and we recognize that FAO needs the resources to do so.
The United States specifically appreciates FAO’s increased support to the standard-setting bodies of CODEX and IPPC, science and innovation, and climate change.
The United States appreciates the additional resources to the Office of the Inspector General and for oversight functions, as well as for the Human Resources division. These are essential for the effectiveness of the organization in carrying out its mission.
At the same time, we have heard consistently in meetings such as the recent Finance Committee and Joint Meeting about the financial strain some member states face. We do not have unlimited resources, and we will need to balance any additional support for FAO against other needs and commitments.
As we closely consider FAO’s proposed budget increase and what the proper amount for an increase is, we have a few comments on the budget proposal, building on the excellent discussions we had in the Finance Committee.
We appreciate the new scenarios from info notes 1 and 2. We note that with the exchange rate adjustment shifting the final budget total down, the original proposed increase would be a 5.6% increase compared to 2022-2023, but only a 1.6% increase compared to the nominal total.
Similarly, even scenarios 1 and 2 present an increase of 3.9% compared to the 2022-2023 level before the exchange rate adjustment. So, at this stage, we are all in essence considering what increase to adopt in the range of 3.9% and 5.6%.
Management has asked for guidance on an acceptable budget level and where to make reductions in their current proposal if a lower level is adopted. We recognize the importance of the 42 new positions to be added using cost recovery funds, and we want to keep those. We also don’t want to cut any positions from the decentralized offices due to their important technical work.
We propose adopting a budget level that keeps stable the total professional positions at the headquarters level, 922 positions, while keeping the number of posts in the original budget proposal for the decentralized offices, which is 335.
We note that even at this level, there would still be a net increase in total posts as additional posts at the general service and director levels would be added using cost recovery funds.
The United States is, however, flexible, and look forward to working with other member states to find a consensus position.
We also want to reiterate the guidance from Finance Committee that considerations of the additional assessment for the after-service medical coverage and the one-time assessment for the Working Capital Fund be deferred to future biennia.
Colleagues, let me be clear, the United States continues to hold a general Zero Nominal Growth (ZNG) policy in FAO and across international organizations. But given the importance of FAO’s work right now during a time of crisis in food security, we would support an increase beyond the ZNG level.