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FAO/Italy: history in the making
On 16 October 1945, at Château Frontenac in Quebec City, Canada, representatives from 34 countries signed the Constitution of FAO, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The first official Conference for the new body was held on 16 October, 1945 in Quebec City, Canada. The Conference translated the general principles stated at Hot Springs into Recommendations for action by member nations. The first Director-General was also elected. This was Sir John Boyd Orr, a Scot who held the post from 1945 to 1948. In 1949, Orr was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work.
In the introduction to the founding document of the new Organization, the member countries undertook to:
- increase the nutritional levels and living standards of their populations;
- improve the efficiency of the production and distribution of all agricultural and food products;
- improve the living conditions of rural communities;
- contribute to the expansion of the global economy and ensure that humanity is free from hunger.
FAO’s move to Italy
The headquarters of the new Organization was provisionally established in Washington DC, but at the V Session of the General Conference, in 1949, Member States decided that many aspects of its mandate coincided with those of IIA, and with a majority vote they opted to move the offices to Rome. IIA officially ceased to exist on 27 February, 1948, and FAO took over its structure, operations and staff.
In February 1951, FAO, headed by Norris E. Dodd from USA, officially moved its headquarters to the Terme di Caracalla, in a building previously intended for the Ministry of Italian Colonies in East Africa.
At the time, the Organization had a staff of about 580 people, but in the beginning, fewer that a half of these were transferred to Italy. In February 1951, two Italian ships – Saturnia and Vulcania – set sail with the first 76 employees and their families for Rome.
Since then, the number of people working for FAO has risen to 2,139 in Rome alone.