PART A: REPORT OF THE CONSULTATION
The Consultation was organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), and with the financial support of the Government of Australia, FAO and the Netherlands Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA). The Government of Samoa kindly hosted the meeting.
The Consultation was attended by 17 participants from six small island developing States including the Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Vanuatu and Samoa.1 Observers from Australia, China, Japan and New Zealand, and United States of America were present as well as from the European Commission, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), World Health Organization (WHO), South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC), South Pacific Commission (SPC), South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency (FFA), South Pacific Forum Secretariat (SPF), South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), International Service for National Agricultural Research (ISNAR), Institute for Research, Extension, and Training in Agriculture (IRETA), University of South Pacific (USP), Ole Siosiomaga Society, University of West Indies, Caribbean Systems Ltd. (see Appendix 1 for the List of Participants).
The Consultation constituted a follow-up to the FAO Inter-regional Conference of Small Island Countries on Sustainable Development and Environment in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, held in Barbados (7-10 April 1992) and the UN Global Conference on Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, also held in Barbados in 1994.
There were several reasons for holding the Consultation: (i) whereas the 1992 Inter-regional Conference was of political nature (i.e. to mobilize the agricultural sector for UNCED), the Consultation aimed at providing a forum to address the sustainability issue on a more technical level; (ii) since the UN Global Conference Programme of Action on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States did not include a specific chapter on agriculture, there was a need to develop the agricultural agenda and discuss related socio-political and economic sustainability issues of interest to Pacific Small Island Developing States (SIDS); (iii) the Consultation aimed at providing the newly established FAO Sub-regional Office for the Pacific Islands (SAPA) with the opportunity to start its activities in a strategic and focused manner.
The Consultation was opened by the Honourable Misa Telefoni Retzlaff, Minister of Agriculture, Forests, Fisheries and Meteorology of Samoa (see Appendix 2). The Director of Agriculture of Samoa, Mr. Tuisugaletaua Sofara Aveau acted as Chairperson of the meeting. Mr. Vili Fuavao, Sub-regional Representative of FAO Office for the Pacific Islands, presented the introductory statement on behalf of FAO's Director-General. (see Appendix 3) followed by Ms. Nadia Scialabba (FAO), Technical Secretary of the Consultation, Sustainable Development Department, FAO (see Appendix 4).
The first day of the consultation was devoted to the presentation of background documents on Policies for Sustaining Food and Agriculture by FAO, Sustainable Management of Natural Resources by SPREP, and Sustainable Primary Production by USP. The South Pacific Forum Secretariat presented the South Pacific Regional Strategy (see Appendix 5) followed by AusAID, IRETA, ISNAR, SOPAC, SPC, FFA, SPFS, SPREP, UNESCO, USP and WHO who presented their activities and objectives in the Pacific. Systems Caribbean Ltd. also presented approaches to sustainable agriculture development in the Caribbean. International Board for Soil Research and Management (IBSRAM) which could not attend the meeting, made its presentation available to participants (see Appendix 6 for Presentation of Agencies' Programmes in the South Pacific).
The second and third days of the Consultation were devoted to the development, by working groups, (see Appendix 7 for Composition of Working Groups) of the Programme for the Sustainable Development of South Pacific Small Island Developing States in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.
The host Government organized a field trip on the morning of Thursday, 9 May. The draft Programme, prepared on the basis of the recommendations of the working groups, was presented during the afternoon session. The Programme was adopted the same day, with a request to the Secretariat to make appropriate editorial adjustments.
The presence and active participation of the donor community throughout the Consultation deliberations led to the conclusion not to hold the Round Table of Donors, originally scheduled for the last meeting session.
The Agenda and Timetable are contained in Appendix 8.
A documentation desk was set up by FAO with the Consultation background documents2 presented by FAO, SPREP and USP during the meeting, together with numerous FAO publications. SPREP also organized a demonstration of its activities which included posters, videos, computer programmes and publications.
The Consultation reviewed on-going development efforts in the Pacific and recommended policies, actions and measures to be taken at national, regional and international levels, including the identification of priority areas of assistance and suggestions for cooperation and joint action. The outcome of the Consultation was a Programme for the Sustainable Development of Pacific Island Countries in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (see Part II) which follows the format of the UN Global Conference Programme and includes: (i) preamble; (ii) basis for action; (iii) national, regional and international actions in three main areas (Policy reforms and legislative framework, Human and institutional capacity-building, and Research, information, technologies and infrastructure requirements); (iv) priority areas of assistance in the latter three fields.
The technical outcome of the Consultation, reflected in the Programme for the Sustainable Development of Pacific Island Countries in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the positive attitude shown by member countries, regional organizations, UN agencies and the donor community during the meeting, provided a platform for strengthening future cooperation in the priority areas identified by the countries. In particular, satisfaction was expressed with the Programme's cross-sectoral approach, balanced between responsibilities to be taken at national, regional and international levels and emphasis on healthy diets and food security.
A specific request was made for the national Departments of Agriculture to promote central planning (as underlined during the Consultation), and for improved coordination when approaching donors, for example by the setting-up of more visible agricultural institutions.
In order to seek policy commitment to the Programme developed by the Consultation, the Chairperson was entrusted with the task of presenting it to the Inaugural Meeting of the South West Pacific Ministers of Agriculture to be held on 13 May 1996 in Apia, Samoa (see Appendix 9 for the Summary Report of the Ministerial meeting).
1 Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Palau, Solomon Islands and Tuvalu were invited but could not attend.
2 Policies for Sustaining Food and Agriculture in the South Pacific; Sustainable Management of Natural Resources in the South Pacific; Sustainable Primary Production in the South Pacific (see Part B).