A conclusion to an account of FAO's evolution during its first 36 years should in reality be called a beginning.
In relation to the history of man himself, FAO has been in existence for only a short time indeed, but in those 36 years many things have transpired that have affected man's welfare and which have a bearing on FAO's present and future role.
The Organization itself has grown substantially from the small nucleus that was formed in late 1945 and during 1946. Too, it has undergone many changes as it adapted itself to meet the needs and desires of its Member Countries. It has achieved a great deal in its efforts to meet the objectives set out in the FAO Constitution, and in a condensed historical account such as this only a few samples of those achievements can be recorded.
In the meantime, the world has been changing, and changing rapidly. Over half of FAO's present Member Countries achieved independence during those 36 years. The number of people the globe is called upon to support has increased from 2, 360 million in 1945 to 4, 375 million in 1980, an increase of over 85%.This increase, coupled with higher incomes and rising expectations, has resulted in a vast increase in the scope and complexity of the problems of feeding, housing and servicing the human population, protecting the environment, and conserving the resources that are essential to man's future welfare.
There have been many other changes, too. For example, the advent of worldwide commercial aviation has increased the risk of transporting plant and animal pests from one continent to another, and from one country to another.An energy crisis has emerged and is having a serious impact on food production and processing. A new law of the sea regime has greatly changed the approaches that must be taken to managing the ocean's fishery resources. Food emergencies resulting from movements of refugees from local wars, or from droughts or other natural disasters, have become common place.
These and many other changes have vastly increased the number and scope of the problems with which countries must deal. And since FAO's concerns are necessarily a mirror image of the concerns of its Member Countries, it follows that there has been equally vast increase in the number and scope of the tasks FAO is called upon to perform in its efforts to be of service to its Member Countries Present indications are that, looking toward 2000 and the coming century, the world's problems in the fields of food, agriculture, fisheries and forestry will become more, rather than less, serious.
So FAO's work has just begun!