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VI. Looking ahead


Provided that these proposals receive the backing of the Organization's Members during the Conference in November 2005, the Director-General is strongly committed to their early implementation, recognizing that the speed of implementation will be strongly influenced by the level of funding available.


The proposals aim to reinforce the Organization's capacity to fulfil its founders' expectations in a global environment that is enormously different from the one prevailing in 1945. The reforms will strengthen FAO's ability to continue to play an essential and highly relevant role in the quest for a better world and it is hoped that they will help to ensure that the Organization is provided with the resources needed to carry out its mandated responsibilities to the satisfaction of its Members. The speed of change, however, in the global environment is fast and not easily predictable. The process will also be influenced both by the broader process of UN reform and by the findings reached by the Independent External Evaluation of FAO, commissioned by the FAO Council. The Director-General is convinced that implementation of the present proposals will provide a more favourable context for both of these processes, and provide the Organization with an enhanced capacity to implement the strategies and achieve the objectives that the Members have set for FAO, or will set in the future.


The reforms are taking place in an increasingly interdependent world, in which the future welfare of nations and their people are inextricably bound together. The choices exercised by consumers in Tokyo, Paris or New York ultimately impact on the livelihoods of tea growers in the highlands of Sri Lanka, vegetable farmers in Kenya and coffee producers in Nicaragua. Moreover, widespread poverty and hunger in developing countries make millions of people highly vulnerable to shocks, whether natural or human-induced, and provide fertile ground for the emergence of political instability and conflict, destabilizing international markets and inducing vast numbers of people to search for a better life beyond their borders. Never has it been so obvious that there is a shared interest - not simply a moral obligation - for all nations of the world to put an end to the extreme deprivation that continues to affect so many of our fellow human beings throughout their entire lifetimes.


Indeed, because of this interdependence, the final impact of the Organization's work will be largely determined by what happens outside FAO in the wider development environment, especially in the areas of aid and trade. The speed with which hunger can be eradicated in the world will be sensitive to the extent to which both domestic resources and international support are increasingly directed towards addressing the root causes of the problem on a scale commensurate with its magnitude. Hopefully, when looming crises are identified, they can be addressed through timely responses, rather than waiting for television images of children on the brink of starvation to be broadcast around the world as the trigger for large-scale humanitarian assistance, delivered at enormous logistical cost. If the same preventive approach is applied to transboundary plant and animal pests and diseases, this can also prevent them from getting out of hand and causing immense losses that devastate the livelihoods of the poorest.


If such a redirection of resources towards the root causes of vulnerability is associated also with changes in trading relations towards creating a more level playing field, progress in attaining the vision of FAO's founders will be all the more rapid. The need for this is implicit in the Commission for Africa's comment that "trade rules are applied vexatiously", and in its recommendation that "reforms in the method of working of the World Trade Organization and in the behaviour of its developed country members are also crucial if market access is to be expanded". Tangible moves towards opening up markets, not simply for raw materials but also for manufactured goods of agricultural origin, will have a profound effect of the livelihoods of people, especially those living in the most disadvantaged countries - LIFDCs, LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS - on which the Organization will increasingly focus its MDG-related programmes. It is vital to avoid a situation in which, as the Commission warns, the MDGs recede into the distance and "the greatest bond between rich and poor for our times now risks turning into the greatest betrayal of the poor by the rich of all time".


There can be no more important mission for a global institution than that of ensuring the adequacy of the world's food supplies for all of the world's people, now and in the future. At Quebec City, in 1995, while commemorating FAO's 50th anniversary, Members reaffirmed their political support to the Organization in carrying out "its mission to help build a world where all people can live with dignity, confident of food security". The 2005 World Summit has triggered a process in which all nations accept that they have a shared interest in seeing an end to poverty and hunger and must bequeath undamaged natural resources to future generations. There is a new sense of determination to engage in large-scale practical programmes for poverty reduction. In embarking on the proposed reforms, FAO will signal the strength of its commitment to do all within its mandate and power, in partnership with other institutions within and outside the UN system that share the same objectives, to play its proper part in this reinvigorated global effort.

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