Rome, 12 March 1999



1. We, the Ministers of Agriculture, Plenipotentiaries and Representatives of countries participating in the Special Ministerial Conference on Agriculture in Small Island Developing States, convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), meeting in Rome on 12 March 1999, recognize the specific constraints of small island developing states and reaffirm our commitment to address their particular needs and our determination to support the sustainable development in small island developing states as a follow-up to the World Food Summit.

2. We acknowledge that small island developing states and low-lying coastal states (Small Island Developing States) vary widely with respect to distinct characteristics such as natural resources endowments for agriculture, forestry and fisheries, levels of economic development, role of the agricultural sector in the economy, competitiveness in agricultural markets, and socio-cultural situations.

3. We also note that Small Island Developing States face common constraints arising from the interplay of factors such as smallness, remoteness, geographic dispersion, vulnerability to natural hazards, and peculiar population structure and mobility. We further recognize the vital importance of agriculture, forestry and fisheries and the vital role played by women in these activities, which provide the main source of livelihood as well as the major revenue for many small islands developing states.

4. Acknowledging the central place of the 1994 Barbados Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, we recognize that the results of this Special Ministerial Conference will make an important contribution to the international effort and the work of the United Nations in addressing the special needs and problems of Small Island Developing States.

5. Reaffirming our common determination and strong commitment, expressed during the World Food Summit, we pledge to pursue our efforts towards the achievement of food security and to implement development policies and programmes which secure the sustainability of agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors in small island developing states.

6. We recognize the important role played by FAO in assisting Small Island Developing States in the development of national capacity through FAO's normative and complementary field programmes in agriculture, forestry and fisheries.

7. We have considered the draft Plan of Action on Agriculture in Small Island Developing States, attached to this Declaration, as a basis for further consideration by appropriate bodies of FAO and other relevant bodies of the United Nations system. We will endeavour to:

(i) address new challenges in the global trading environment; undertake short-term adjustments; and improve competitiveness in agricultural exports;

(ii) move towards more intensified, diversified and sustainable agriculture in order to: create an enabling environment for agricultural intensification and diversification; remove production constraints; and improve domestic and export marketing and processing;

(iii) meet fisheries needs in order to: improve Exclusive Economic Zones fisheries conservation and management; enhance aquaculture development and inland fisheries; and improve post-harvest fish management, marketing and processing;

(iv) ensure sustainable management of land, water, and forestry resources and environmental protection in order to: promote the conservation and sustainable use of land and water resources and manage sustainably the forest resources; enhance environmental protection; and improve disaster preparedness;

(v) build and/or strengthen national capacities and institutions to: accommodate and take advantage of the new international trade regime; strengthen support services to agriculture, forestry and fisheries; and provide a coherent framework for sustainable natural resource management and environmental protection.

8. We pledge fostering the Plan of Action on Agriculture in Small Island Developing States through effective and appropriate use of existing international programmes and institutional arrangements.

9. We invite the Director-General of the FAO to submit, as early as possible, a developed version of the draft Plan of Action on Agriculture in Small Island Developing States to the FAO Council.