Monday, January 16, 2012

Agencies, donors boost coordination on food safety, animal and plant health aid

WTO.,NEWS. January 2012. Strengthened coordination to improve results in a number of areas feature in a new medium-term strategy for 2012-16 adopted on 10 January 2012 by a five-agency programme to help developing countries meet international standards on food safety and animal and plant health.

The ultimate goal is to assist developing countries tackle pests, animal and plant diseases and contaminants so that they can expand and diversify food and agricultural production and exports, resulting in economic development, poverty reduction, better nutrition, food security and environmental protection.

The Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) contributes to this by helping them build up their capacity to implement requirements known as “sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS)” standards through increased awareness and knowledge of good practices and by funding projects that promote compliance with the standards, including grants to help prepare projects.

It was set up by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), World Bank, World Health Organization (WHO) and World Trade Organization (WTO), and is run by the five partners together with donor countries and representatives of developing countries.

The 2012–16 strategy aims to:
  • boost collaboration and information sharing on technical co-operation
  • help recipient countries identify their needs, define their priorities and design project proposals that are likely to receive funding from various donors
  • improve the performance of countries benefiting from the limited number of STDF-funded projects

Funding to implement new strategy will remain at the current target of $5m per year, with a mid-term review due in 2013. The STDF will continue to dedicate at least 40% of its project resources to beneficiaries in least developed countries (LDCs) and other low income countries.

Since it was set up in 2002, the STDF has supported 47 projects and 48 project-preparation grants benefiting 54 developing countries. In addition, conferences and other events have been organized on thematic cross-cutting topics of common interest such as SPS-related public-private partnerships, the links between SPS and climate change, and the use of economic analysis in SPS decision-making. It has received a total of $25m from 17 donor countries.

Its current donors are Canada, Denmark, EU, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei, US.


The five organizations formally established the STDF in August 2002 as a partnership and trust fund with three years of start-up financing from the World Bank and the WTO. In 2005, membership of the STDF was expanded to include donors and experts from developing countries with knowledge in the areas of human, animal or plant health, or SPS market access issues more generally.

The STDF is funded through voluntary contributions to the trust fund established under the financial regulations and rules of the WTO. The WTO houses and administers the STDF Secretariat and provides the Secretary to the STDF from its regular budget.

The STDF is a global partnership that supports developing countries in building their capacity to implement international sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards, guidelines and recommendations as a means to improve their human, animal and plant health status and ability to gain or maintain access to markets.

SPS measures can pose significant barriers to the expansion and diversification of food and agricultural exports, a key element in many national development plans and poverty reduction strategies. Moreover, the reduction of pest and disease burdens, and improved food safety, has a key role to play in raising agricultural production, reducing the prevalence of food-borne diseases, increasing food availability, and the protection of the environment.

Hence, building the SPS capacity of developing countries has important public and environmental health benefits and can help in contributing to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Efficient and effective SPS control systems are a global public good.

The STDF brings together the collective expertise and skills of its five partners, donors and developing country experts. This includes the participation of the standard-setting organizations designated as reference bodies by the WTO SPS Agreement in their own right, as well as through the involvement of their parent organizations. The STDF also engages regularly with other organizations and initiatives involved in the provision of SPS-related technical cooperation.

The final beneficiaries of the STDF are public and private sector entities in developing countries seeking to improve their capacity to implement international SPS standards, guidelines and recommendations, and subsequently the consumers of those products throughout the world. Partners, donors and other organizations and initiatives also directly benefit from the work of the STDF, notably in terms of information exchange, sharing experiences and the identification, dissemination and replication of good practice.


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