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Eliminating poverty is the greatest challenge the world faces in the twenty-first century. The global community is committed to a series of international development targets that set clear "milestones" on the road to achieving this aim. These include a reduction by half in the number of people who are food-insecure by 2015 and a reduction in the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by the same date.

Experience has shown that people, and not the resources they manage, must be placed at the centre of development if poverty is to be reduced and eliminated. Poor people must actively participate in their own development. Sustainable livelihoods approaches to poverty reduction bring together the lessons of "best practice" in a set of principles supported by an analytical framework.

The Department for International Development (DFID) is working with other agencies to refine and apply sustainable livelihoods approaches. The objective is to work together and learn from each other in order to reduce poverty.

At the Inter-agency Forum on Operationalizing Sustainable Livelihoods Approaches, executed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and supported by DFID, representatives of five development agencies came together to share their experiences. The Forum demonstrated a high degree of convergence around the principles of sustainable livelihoods approaches. Participants also made recommendations about how the agencies might work together in future to improve effectiveness. These recommendations are being pursued both within the headquarters of the agencies and at country level.

The Forum was a considerable success in its own right. This was due in large part to FAO's vital contribution in organizing the event. However, the long-term measure of success will be in the extent to which the Forum leads to more effective programmes for the reduction of poverty.

Michael Scott

Head, Rural Livelihoods Department
Department for International Development

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