SARD and the Millennium Development Goals
Since the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, when Chapter 14 of Agenda 21 first outlined programmes and actions to enhance food security in a sustainable way, the concept of sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD) has evolved to include social, institutional, and economic sustainability, as well as environmental sustainability. This means that sustainable agriculture and rural development, including forestry and fisheries, must meet the nutritional requirements and other human needs of present and future generations, provide durable and decent employment, maintain and, where possible, enhance the productive and regenerative capacity of the natural resource base, reduce vulnerability and strengthen self-reliance.
SARD serves as an important entry point toward achieving the MDGs and the targets outlined within those goals. SARD readily addresses those goals related to eradicating extreme hunger and poverty (MDG One) and ensuring environmental sustainability (MDG Seven), and because it addresses social and cultural dimensions, SARD also contributes to goals and targets related to education, health, diseases and gender equality.
- Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
- Achieve universal primary education
- Promote gender equality and empower women
- Reduce child mortality
- Improve maternal health
- Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
- Ensure environmental sustainability
- Develop a global partnership for development
World Food Summit: five years later (2002)
The World Food Summit: five years later held in Rome in 2002, brought together Heads of State and Government or their representatives to reaffirm the commitments made by world leaders to the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action in 1996, and to urge greater effort to realise them within the context of the first millennium development goal - eradication of poverty and hunger.
Recognizing the critical role played by civil society during the preparations for the World Food Summit, FAO encouraged NGOs/CSOs to take a similar, active involvement in the preparatory process for WFS:fyl. An international planning group of NGOs/CSOs facilitated this participation and held a forum on Food Sovereignty noting that it is the right of peoples, communities, and countries to define their own agricultural, labour, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances.
Jacques Diouf, Director General, FAO
World Food Summit: five years later, Rome, June 2002
SARD and the FAO Strategic Framework
Sustainability has been mainstreamed into FAO’s Strategic Framework for 2000-2015. In two of the organization’s three global goals cited below, it is specifically mentioned.
- Goal 1: Access of all people at all times to sufficient nutritionally adequate and safe food, ensuring that the number of undernourished people is reduced by half by no later than 2015.
- Goal 2: The continued contribution of sustainable agriculture and rural development, including fisheries and forestry, to economic and social progress and the well-being of all.
- Goal 3: The conservation, improvement and sustainable utilization of natural resources, including land, water, forest, fisheries and genetic resources for food and agriculture.
SARD and the Committee on Agriculture
The Committee on Agriculture (COAG) is one of the FAO governing bodies that meets every two years and conducts periodic reviews and appraisals of agricultural and nutritional problems in order to propose concerted action by Member Nations and the Organization. It also reviews the agriculture and food and nutrition work programmes of the Organization and their implementation, with emphasis on the integration of all social, technical, economic, institutional and structural aspects in promoting agricultural and rural development. Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development is a standing agenda item every four years.
SARD at the 19th Session of COAG (2005) In April 2005, SARD was on the COAG agenda. Governments discussed the way forward for SARD in FAO and in partnership with civil society. A side event on 14 April focused on i) local successes fostering sustainable livelihoods, sustainable intensification of rural production systems and integrated natural resources management as a means to SARD and ii)the need for mobilizing the capacity of different stakeholders to scale up successful practices in order to influence policy changes that can rapidly reduce poverty and hunger while protecting the environment.
SARD at the 16th Session of COAG (2001) In 2001 following discussions of the SARD paper submitted to COAG, the Committee identified three action areas for promoting SARD including: building capacities and strengthening institutions; mobilizing investments; and technologies for enhancing productivity and managing the environment. The Committee noted additional areas to be highlighted as important for SARD, i.e., access to land and land tenure; debt relief; control of HIV/AIDS; traditional, local and indigenous knowledge; gender and the role of women; increased participation of civil society; good governance; and the role of public research in agriculture and rural development.
At this session, there was a multi-stakeholder dialogue held in parallel which addressed key questions on SARD. The Committee recognized the valuable contribution made by the CSOs and NGOs to the debate on this item.
Thematic Thrusts on SARD at FAO
Key programme areas of Chapter 14 of Agenda, as adopted by the Earth Summit in 1992, include:
Each of these programme areas has been broadened as new issues emerged. FAO has programmes and projects related to each of the broadened Chapter 14 programme areas. These have been clustered within three thematic thrusts that were endorsed by the FAO Committee on Agriculture in April 2005.
Thrust One: Sustainable Livelihoods
Mainstreaming good practices from, inter alia, the Livelihoods Support Programme (LSP), the Forests, Trees and People Programme (FTTP), the Sustainable Fisheries Livelihoods Programme (SFLP) and the Pro-Poor Livestock Facility.
Thrust Two: Sustainable Intensification of Integrated Production Systems
Development and mainstreaming of FAO’s multisectoral GAP approach and other action to enhance sustainability and safety of food chains.
Thrust Three: Integrated Natural Resource Management
Development and mainstreaming of an ecosystem approach for conserving land and water resources, protecting biodiversity and conserving and sustainably managing agricultural heritage systems.