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The 60th Anniversary of the founding of FAO provides a moment for reflection on the past. It offers FAO an opportunity to analyse results in relation to the vision that, as stated in the Preamble to its Constitution, it should contribute "towards an expanding world economy and ensuring humanity's freedom from hunger". An anniversary is also an occasion for looking forward, and considering how the Organization can confront the new challenges that the twenty-first century will bring.

Convinced that the Organization must examine itself critically and determine how it can improve its relevance and effectiveness in a fast-changing global environment, the Director-General has submitted to the Conference of FAO's Member Nations, which will meet in November 2005, proposals for a process of far-reaching reform. In September 2005, the Organization's Programme and Finance Committees "endorsed the timely initiative from the Director-General to present extensive reform proposals aimed at a stronger and more responsive Organization. They emphasized the necessarily dynamic nature of a process of adaptation to changing contexts and new demands. The Committees and the Director-General agreed that the proposed reforms and the Independent External Evaluation of FAO should be mutually supportive, and both fit under a reform umbrella."

This paper briefly recalls the birth and evolution of FAO and takes stock of its achievements. It then looks forward to a number of the great challenges of the twenty-first century and their implications for FAO. Subsequently, it sets out the case for reform, outlines the main features of the process and describes the proposals, placing them in the broader context of UN reform and the vision of FAO's founders.

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