The Director-General submitted a package of reform proposals to the Conference of FAO's Members, which met in November 2005. The aim of these proposals is to equip the Organization to play an increasingly effective role in assisting its Members in the areas of its mandate, and in contributing to the broader effort by the UN system to achieve all of the MDGs. In its Resolution on Reforms in the Organization, the Conference welcomed this initiative and shared the Director-Generals assessment of the need to enhance the Organizations ability to fulfil its mandate. It expressed "general support for the rationale and guiding principles underlying the Director-Generals reform proposals as a basis for further deliberation and implementation of the reform of the FAO." It looked forward to the results of the Independent External Evaluation (IEE) of FAO as "a guide to enhancing the effectiveness and efficiency of the Organization", and stressed that the IEE and the reform proposals should be mutually supportive. Finally, the Conference authorised the Director-General to start progressive implementation on a number of his proposals and mandated the Council to decide on further implementation as soon as possible and appropriate.
The reforms proposed will redefine the Organization's programmes to reflect more accurately the three major thrusts of its work, as approved by the Conference:
Sustainable food and agricultural systems. Targeting activities in which FAO must attain or retain capacity for excellence; this involves reinforcing activities of highest priority in the immediate and longer-term, and shedding those that others can do better, in the areas of crops and livestock, biosecurity, nutrition and consumer protection, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture, and the sustainable development of natural resources
Knowledge exchange, policy and advocacy. Focusing strongly on these functions in which FAO has a comparative advantage owing to its universality, its convening capacity, mandate and advisory role in agricultural information, policy and trade, and its ability to mobilize and interact with various constituencies - governmental and non-governmental - to promote economic and social development.
Decentralization, UN cooperation and programme delivery. Locating action at the level at which it can be carried out most effectively, and cooperating fully with partners, concentrating especially at country level on the achievement of the MDGs and emergency/post-crisis management; strengthening relationships with UN organizations at all levels and enhancing cooperation with regional and subregional bodies.
Across all programmes, the proposals involve action to:
Implementing these changes calls for:
FAO, in its founders' words, was "born out of the idea of freedom from want", meaning "the conquest of hunger and the attainment of the ordinary needs of a self-respecting life". In looking back over the six decades since it was born, on 16 October 1945 in Quebec City, Canada, the Organization can legitimately claim to have played its part in a remarkable success story of the second half of the twentieth century - that food production has kept up with the growth of a world population that has tripled in numbers, and that the proportion of people suffering from hunger has been cut from 35 percent in 1960 to 13 percent in 2000-02.
At the same time, the founders' vision of freedom from want has not yet been realized, as was recognized by the 1996 World Food Summit, which first set the target of halving the number of undernourished people by 2015. In embarking now upon a process of reform, FAO will signal its commitment to a renewed effort to achieve the goal, expressed in the Preamble to its Constitution, of "ensuring humanity's freedom from hunger".