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Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations has designated the Archipelago of Chiloé as "Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System".      From left to right: Juan Sebastián Montes, Intendant, Los Lagos Region; Alan Bojanic, FAO Representative in Chile; Luis Mayol, Minister of Agriculture, Chile; and Cecilia Guineo, Chiloé farmer representative. © MINAGRI/FAO.

Chronology of Development of the GIAHS Programme

In response to the global trends that undermine family agriculture and traditional agricultural systems, in 2002, during the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD, Johannesburg, South Africa), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations launched a Global Partnership Initiative on conservation and adaptive management of “Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems”.

Since then, using various extra budgetary financial resources, many projects to assist member countries in identifying and conserving the GIAHS sites as well as international, regional and national conferences, seminars, training courses to enhance the capacity of ember countries and to disseminate the concept of GIAHS have been carried out. As a result of these activities, the designated GISAHS sites have increased and the GIAHS programme has gained considerable recognition both at the international and national levels.

At the global level, GIAHS has been very much appreciated at various intergovernmental fora. At the national level, GIAHS has contributed to the adoption of policies that integrate agricultural heritage into agricultural development programmes. It has also been influential in promoting the sustainable use of biodiversity and genetic resources for food and agriculture, the protection of traditional knowledge systems, culture and, more importantly, creating a bridge to a sustainable future.

With increased recognition and visibility of GIAHS in manty countries and international fora, the 148th session of the FAO Council agreed that the GIAHS should be vested with formal status within the FAO framework and endorsed the initiation of a process for the development of a draft Conference Resolution for anchoring GIAHS within the Organization. This initiative was discussed in several governing bodies including the 24th session of the COAG in 2014 and finally has led to the decision by the 39th FAO Conference in 2015 that vested the GIAHS programme into FAO by making Regular Programme resources available to support core operations of the GIAHS programme  during 2016-17 with the understanding that the work on GIAHS will primarily rely on extra budgetary funding.

Furthermore, the governance and working arrangements of the GIAHS programme have been streamlined to facilitate light and smooth operations through the establishment of a new Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) which initiated its activities since 2016 for a two-year period. The Scientific Advisory Group (SAG) convened its inaugural meeting from 22 to 23 February. The SAG provides scientific advice on the GIAHS programme and conduct designation of GIAHS sites.