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Appendix: Inter-regional conference of small island countries on sustainable development and environment in agriculture, forestry and fisheries Barbados, 7-10 April 1992

The Bridgetown declaration
Conclusions and recommendations of the conference

This Conference was organized by FAO in collaboration with the UNCED Secretariat and the financial support of the Governments of Australia, the Netherlands and Norway, to mobilize the agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors for UNCED and the implementation of Agenda 21. The Conference was attended by 49 participants from 25 small island developing States in the South Pacific, Indian Ocean, Mediterranean and Caribbean Regions.

The Conference resulted in an Action Plan including conclusions and recommendations on: i) general recommendations and follow-up which called for a second Inter-regional Conference to be held in the South Pacific; ii) sustainable agriculture and rural development; iii) forest resources conservation and development, and, iv) coastal fisheries resources management and development. It also produced the Bridgetown Declaration which was subsequently presented by the Government of Barbados to UNCED.

The Bridgetown declaration

We, the Ministers of Agriculture and Representatives of twenty five countries participating in the Inter-regional Conference of Small Island Countries on Sustainable Development and Environment in Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) with the generous support of the Governments of Australia, the Netherlands and Norway, having met in Barbados, 7-10 April 1992,

Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Cook Islands, Comoros, Cyprus, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Grenada, Jamaica, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Marshall Islands, Papua New Guinea, Puerto Rico, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Seychelles, Solomon Islands. Tonga. Trinidad and Tobago.


1. small island countries are endowed with unique cultures and a rich biodiversity, both marine and terrestrial, of inestimable value to present and future generations of the island communities and to the world community at large;

2. small island countries are constrained in their endeavours towards sustainable development of resources by factors such as weak economic sectors, lack of food security, narrow resource base, relative isolation from major markets, vulnerability to natural and other hazards, and lack of recognition as a special geographic entity within the international system;

3. agriculture in small island countries, under increasing pressure from multiple demands, population growth, tourism and industrial activities, is facing harsh competition for scarce resources, such as land and water;

4. inappropriate agricultural practices adversely affect the long-term productive capacity of arable lands, as well as other resources and sectors, and the environment as a whole;

5. uncontrolled exploitation of forest resources has led to considerable reduction in forest cover and, if allowed to continue, will further degrade and endanger the environment;

6. there are threats to the long-term sustainability of the fisheries sector through over exploitation of living marine resources, toxic waste dumping, and other sources of degradation of coastal habitats, as well as lack of effective surveillance mechanisms at both national and regional levels;

7. there is a need for the establishment of adequate procedures to address the long-term economic and environmental costs of the multiple degradation affecting the basic resources of small island countries in order to secure their long-term viability;

8. small island countries, because of their size and geographic isolation, present ideal conditions to develop as models of sustainable societies, based on an appropriate balance of sustainable agricultural, forestry and fisheries practices with other sectors of their economy;

9. any endeavours towards sustainable development require changes in attitudes, and in consumption and production patterns, particularly in industrialized countries, and eradication of poverty in the world;

10. environmental concerns must be integrated into the development process and the adoption of appropriate institutional mechanisms as well as human resource development are essential prerequisites for the integrated planning and management of small island countries and should involve the private sector, NG0s, and the society at large in the development process;


11. the GATT/Uruguay Round negotiations, the upcoming single European market in 1993, and other developments in Central Europe risk eroding preferential trade arrangements which are in favour of small island countries and thus constraining their efforts towards sustainability and self-reliance;

12. a redirection and strengthening of financial, human and institutional resources is a sine qua non condition for the integrated management of island economies and the effective management of intersectoral linkages among agriculture, forestry, fisheries and other sectoral activities;

13. small island countries must support institutional mechanisms that would enhance human resource development, as well as permit an early process of integrated management;


our common determination and commitment to pursue and strengthen our efforts towards the achievement of sustainability objectives by implementing development policies and programmes which secure the long-term viability of our agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors, in harmony with all other sectors of our national economies;


1. supporting small island countries in their efforts to achieve sustainability in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, as well as in the exploitation of resources in their large exclusive economic zones, launching to this end programmes and projects aimed at integrated management of the limited natural resources, and the protection of marine resources by the establishment of effective surveillance mechanisms at national and regional levels;

2. promoting the access of small island countries to appropriate technology and encouraging the removal of conditionalities;

3. establishing new and strengthening existing preferential trading arrangements for specific commodities which are produced by small islands, and providing effective operational measures to mitigate adverse effects on terms of trade;

4. promoting a sustainable data base system as a high priority to improve decision making and policy analysis, and a network for the dissemination of information and data concerning world market conditions and trends for island products;

5. encouraging international agencies with the technical competence to play an increasingly important role in cooperating with the endeavours of small island countries towards achieving sustainable development;

6. developing a different set of criteria and indicators for access to international support, that better recognizes the vulnerability and peculiarities of small island countries, including their isolated character, in place of the present commonly accepted criteria, amongst which per capita GNP is the most important;

7. the international community should, given the limitations, provide opportunities to facilitate the process of development of small island countries in a self-reliant and sustainable manner;


that small islands use all opportunities to act collectively in international fora - technical and political to - focus attention on the issues impacting upon the sustainable development of small island countries;


the international community to increase its support to small island countries in their efforts to achieve sustainable development.


that the above declaration be presented by the delegation of Barbados to the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, to be held in Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992.

Conclusions and recommendations of the conference

A. General recommendations and follow-up
B. Sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD)
C. Forest resources conservation and development
D. Coastal fisheries resources management and development

A. General recommendations and follow-up

Macro-economic environment

1. The Conference underlined that, in order to enable small island countries to move into paths leading to sustainable development, it was essential that a favourable international economic environment be created, including fair trade arrangements, external debt alleviation, eradication of poverty, concessional funding mechanisms and equitable sharing of the financial burden, within the framework of a global partnership for the benefit of present and future generations.

2. The Conference noted that fiscal adjustment programmes and other structural adjustments imposed conditions, externally, which were too stringent for small island countries and which needed to be revised and special criteria set up for lending to small island countries so that such adjustments stimulate the transition to sustainable development and their benefits accrue in particular to primary producers and the rural poor.

3. The Conference further noted that new and additional financial resources on concessional and preferential terms were required, and innovative financial mechanisms to provide sustainable production systems in agriculture, forestry and fisheries, ensuring sound environmental management in small island countries. These mechanisms should be universal, democratic and transparent.

4. The Conference requested that the international community give particular attention to the national and regional requirements of small island countries, including their efforts in capacity-building and human resources development, capital investment and generation and transfer of technologies which are appropriate.

5. The Conference noted that the existing contractual trade arrangements for certain specific commodities of the agriculture sector have guaranteed a stable level of earnings to small island countries, so vital for their socio-economic development and political stability. Certain crops in these countries can better withstand hurricanes and drought, and help to mitigate environmental degradation. The implementation of a reform programme leading to greater liberalization of trade across the board in agriculture may have serious consequences as a result of increases in the import bills of small island countries which are heavily dependent on imports for their basic foodstuff requirements.

6. The Conference called on the international community to ensure that any agreement for reform in agricultural trade take specific account of, and provide for, the special circumstances of small island countries, especially net food importing countries, and more particularly to mitigate the adverse effects which increases in import bills and reduction in export earnings may have on the terms of trade and balance of payments. These measures may consist in the negotiation or re-negotiation of international commodity arrangements, preservation of existing preferential trade contractual arrangements and improvement of preferential access to certain products.

Sustainable development strategies

7. The Conference recommended that small island countries adopt strategies which favour the optimization of financial and human resources and natural resource endowments for sustainable development. Among the strategies and approaches to reduce their vulnerability to economic factors and natural hazards, the following are recommended:

- Integrated planning of both terrestrial and marine environments to prevent their degradation and to soundly utilize the full potential of the natural resource base.

- Diversification of the economy in order to enhance its resilience and to create new sources of income.

- Promotion of well-tested local know-how, the use of sound traditional production systems and the introduction of appropriate technology for their enhancement.

People's participation

8. The Conference considered the active involvement of the local community in planning and management as a prerequisite for sustainable development in agriculture, forestry and fisheries. People's participation should, in particular, take into account gender issues to integrate women in development efforts, should benefit from innovative approaches such as rapid rural appraisal methods, and should lead to the strengthening of rural institutions, the establishment of user groups and the necessary mechanisms for access to low-interest credit, the provision of inputs, extension and technical assistance.

9. The Conference stressed that non-governmental organizations and private sector organizations could significantly contribute, hand in hand with government institutions, to create public awareness, to mobilize youth and other groups of the society, to train farm leaders and to assist local communities in introducing the necessary changes leading to sustainable development, with due consideration of concerns for environmental conservation.

Promotion of TCDC

10. The Conference noted that networking arrangements could significantly enhance the flow of information and technical know-how, and the sharing of experience between the small island countries which have similar problems and needs for sustainable development.

11. The Conference therefore requested FAO to consider the possibility of expanding and incorporating small island countries in the already existing inter-regional and regional mechanisms to stimulate TCDC in agriculture, forestry, fisheries, nutrition and related areas. The Conference considered that technical cooperation networks were particularly required in the field of agricultural research, for the improvement of curricula at both university and vocational levels, and for the conservation and exchange of genetic resources.

Information for planning

12. Small island countries need to have better information about their natural resources, the suitability of their land resources for sustainable uses, the potential of their marine resources, and other basic data for planning their sustainable development.

13. The Conference requested FAO to assist the small island countries in resource assessment, application of remote sensing and geographic information systems, agro-ecological zoning, and other areas where basic information for planning needs to be enhanced.


14. The Conference recognized that small island countries need to be heard by the international community and to find more effective ways to express the commonality of their needs, interests and concerns. Therefore, the governments of these countries should consider expanding the mandate of the Alliance of Small Island States so as to cover, in addition to their interests in the negotiations for a convention on climate change, other issues, particularly those related to the sustainable development of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

15. The Conference appreciated this unique occasion provided by FAO and the Governments of Australia, the Netherlands and Norway, and requested FAO to consider ways in which exchange of experience and development of common positions and cooperative programmes could continue to evolve for the benefit of small island countries, considering their particular needs and conditions.

16. The Conference recommended that the small island countries seek opportunities to meet again, if possible in the South Pacific, in the near future with a view to implementing the programme areas of Agenda 21 to be agreed at UNCED.

B. Sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD)

The den Bosch Declaration and Agenda for Action

17. The Conference supported the concept of sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD), as defined at the "den Bosch" Conference on Agriculture and the Environment in April 1991, and the call for its promotion, as detailed under UNCED "Agenda 21".

Changes toward SARD

18. The implementation of SARD will require fundamental re-direction and the commitment of all countries, but in small island country situations, particular constraints to implementation are their geographical isolation, rapid population growth, limited natural resource base and undiversified, export-led agricultural economies.

19. The re-direction and even re-structuring of the agricultural economies of small island countries will involve changes in focus through diversification and intensification, with proper use of agricultural inputs. This will necessitate increased investment in the agriculture sector.

Financial resources

20. The Conference therefore recommended that the means be explored to generate development capital for SARD implementation, to improve access by small farmers to credit and marketing facilities, to establish more attractive interest rates for farm enterprises, and to alleviate the debt burden of those countries which inhibits capacity for investment in these areas. The Conference further called for the continuance and/or enhancement of preferential market agreements at the international level, and for the negotiation or re-negotiation of international commodity agreements which will guarantee fair and remunerative prices for the agricultural products of small island countries.

Commitment and involvement

21. The political will and long-term commitment of all sectors of society at the national level, as well as the international community, are essential to put in place the integrated planning and management mechanisms required for the implementation of SARD. In this respect the Conference recommended that small island countries initiate the restructuring and refocusing of education (formal and informal), with the assistance of relevant regional and international institutions, to create awareness of SARD concepts and stimulate partnership in its implementation across all sectors of society, with particular concern for disadvantaged agricultural communities, women farmers and rural youth.

22. The Conference recognized that a participatory approach would be mandatory in undertaking integrated planning and management, and that this would require improved cross-sectoral and farmer-to-farmer communication, if SARD was to compensate for existing social disparities. The Conference therefore recommended that rural development policies of small island countries adequately address aspirations and provide employment opportunities for all sections of the community, and incorporate gender and land tenure issues.

Appropriate fanning systems

23. It was accepted that re-direction of the agricultural economies of small island countries would require appropriate farming systems within rational land use plans, framed on the basis of both environmental and economic considerations.

24. The Conference recommended that farming systems research, development and extension approaches, as well as formal and information education and training, be oriented towards new crop mixes or uses of existing crops to achieve optimal market (internal and external) thrust, without neglecting environmentally sound traditional agriculture, which has great value in terms of food security and traditional cultures. Improving planning and management capacity

25. The Conference recognized that development of the management and planning capacity necessary to implement and monitor SARD would require enhanced inputs from data bases which encompass land and water resources inventories, social and economic parameters in order to identify economically viable and environmentally sound options for development in the face of cross-sectoral competition for the limited resources of small island countries.

26. The Conference therefore recommended that small island countries, in cooperation with relevant regional and international organizations, strengthen their capacity to collect, collate and analyse resource data as a basic instrument for the planning and monitoring of SARD implementation.

International and regional cooperation

27. The Conference further recommended that progress towards SARD in small island countries feature as a regular agenda item at key regional, inter-regional and international fora.

28. The Conference noted that there was considerable scope for regional and inter regional cooperation in the implementation of SARD in small island countries. The Conference therefore recommended that small island countries, supported by the international community, seize this opportunity to develop cooperative ventures to share facilities, training and research programmes in elements of SARD such as renewable energy, integrated pest management, integrated plant nutrition systems, remote sensing, conservation farming systems, standards for quality control and agricultural insurance.

C. Forest resources conservation and development

Forest resources assessment

29. The Conference recommended that mechanisms be put in place to provide reliable information on the extent, quantity and quality of existing natural forest ecosystems. In some instances, this exercise might be coordinated on a regional/sub-regional basis and implemented nationally.

Watershed management

30. The widespread destruction of protective forests in critical watershed areas has resulted in serious environmental degradation, critical impairment of water supply and irreparable damage to coastal/marine natural resources. This situation necessitates the urgent implementation of watershed management and rehabilitation programmes in most small island countries.

Conservation of forest ecosystems

31. Forest conservation is essential for environmental protection but also for the protection of the often unique flora and fauna found within the forest habitat. The maintenance of the biological diversity of small island countries can only be achieved if provision is made for the establishment of protected areas, such as forest reserves, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, which can be the basis for a vibrant ecotourist industry. The establishment of protected areas for the conservation of genetic resources, such as botanical gardens/herbaria, are essential support facilities.


32. The Conference recommended that every effort be made to establish reforestation programmes for commercial and non-commercial purposes. In addition to providing much needed employment in rural areas, these reforestation programmes would help to: i) meet local timber needs and save scarce foreign exchange; ii) provide, through agroforestry projects, increased local food/fruit and livestock production to increase the overall, short and long-term financial viability of the enterprise; and iii) meet local energy needs on an environmentally sound basis, through establishment of appropriate fuelwood lots.

Utilization and marketing of wood and non-wood forest ducts

33. The Conference urged that innovative ways be found to utilize products, both within and outside the forest, including lesser-known species, non-wood forest products, residues, and the exploitation of the biotechnological potential within the forest. Such activities must involve and benefit rural communities.

Public education and awareness programmes

34. The Conference noted that the success of national forestry action programmes depended on the active and early involvement of the social partners, including community groups, non-governmental organizations, women, youth organizations, and the private sector and its affiliated organizations. This might require the introduction of innovative incentives.

35. The Conference further noted that this would necessitate the preparation and implementation of locally/regionally produced public education and awareness programmes, designed to cater for all sections of the community, from pre-school to adults, and for the public and private/corporate sectors.

Institutional issues, training and research

36. The Conference stressed the urgent need for institutional strengthening in most island countries to facilitate the preparation and implementation of national forestry action programmes. This would include the provision of trained personnel, policy and legislative arrangements and strengthening the capabilities of forest administrations. The Conference underlined the fundamental importance of national or regional institutional facilities to provide training to local staff at the professional, technical and vocational levels, and to facilitate research.

D. Coastal fisheries resources management and development

The role of fisheries and coastal ecosystems

37. The Conference recognized the role of coastal and other fisheries in contributing to the national economic, social and nutritional goals, particularly of small island countries, and the need to enhance and sustain this role within the principles of UNCLOS 1982 and the context of Section 11, Chapter 9 of Agenda 21.

38. The Conference recommended that small island countries ensure the protection of critical marine and coastal ecosystems associated with fisheries production. It further recommended that all countries, both individually and collectively, ensure the prevention or reduction and control of all sources of pollution that affect fisheries.

Fishery management Models

39. The Conference noted the need to develop and apply appropriate bio-economic models for the management of tropical multi-species fisheries.

Resource assessment, research and training

40. The Conference recognized the critical importance of data and information relating to the status of fishery stocks and their dynamics, and recommended that countries make every effort to collect such information and, when appropriate, seek to work on a regional or sub-regional basis in the collection, analysis and dissemination of these data and information.

41. The Conference called for the strengthening and enhancement of research capabilities in marine sciences and the development and adaptation of technologies and techniques relevant to the special characteristics and needs of small island countries, through regional and interregional cooperation.

42. The Conference requested further international support for training in fisheries administration, in which the inter-disciplinary aspects of resource management, policy and planning are taken fully into account.

Cooperation in management, control and surveillance

43. The Conference recognized the need to establish or strengthen national and regional mechanisms for the management of fisheries and for monitoring, control and surveillance, involving relevant user groups.

44. The Conference supported the promotion of scientific, economic and technical cooperation (TCDC) between small island countries in all aspects of fisheries.

Participatory and integrated planning

45. The Conference recommended that fishery sector planning take place within an integrated planning framework and involve user groups in order to optimize utilization and minimize conflict due to the multiple-use demands placed on coastal and marine resources.

46. The Conference further recommended the participation of local fishing communities in the planning and management of coastal marine resources, and the incorporation of proven traditional management practices which may be necessary prerequisites for sustained fisheries production.

47. The Conference encouraged small island countries to provide an appropriate framework to give support to the private sector in the processing and marketing of fish and fish products.

48. The Conference supported the promotion of aquaculture, where applicable, to complement existing fisheries.

Migratory species

49. The Conference suggested that the concerns regarding high seas fishing of migratory species adjacent to small island countries be addressed by the relevant UN agencies.

Support from the international community

50. The Conference, noting the limited resources available to small island countries to conserve and protect the life-supporting systems for sustained fisheries production, requested the assistance of UN agencies, multilateral and bilateral financing institutions and donor agencies, in achieving maximum sustainable benefits from the exploitation of the fishery resources within their EEZs.

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