FAO/Netherlands Conference on the Multifunctional Character of Agriculture and Land
The ConferenceThe FAO/NL Conference on the Multifunctional Character of Agriculture and Land will take place at Maastricht in the Netherlands from 12-17 September, 1999. The Conference will provide a high-level technical forum for increasing international understanding on the complex issues surrounding the multifunctional character of agriculture and land and its crucial linkages with environmental sustainability. The Conference will also contribute significantly to FAOs inputs to the Eighth Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-8).
The IssueReference to the multifunctional character of agriculture and land (henceforth MFCAL) recognises the complexity, scale and continuing importance of agriculture and related land use. It refers to multiple functions beyond the production of food, fibre and other goods (such as medicines and timber) for immediate benefit. These include for example, food security, environmental sustainability, social and economic well-being and development. The approach therefore reflects the diverse and varied impact of agriculture and related land use on the environment, economy, society and culture. This perspective offers a clear understanding of the interconnection between agriculture and other sectors and the diverse range of potential benefits that can stem from agricultural activity and related land-use.
The MFCAL approach reflects a more complete understanding of the integration of agricultural activities into all aspects of ecosystemic and economic relations. These relations confer on agriculture and land activities multiple potential functions which can be either used or neglected. Under certain circumstances, these functions can contribute directly to sustainability and overall development.
Conference InputsThe main Conference inputs include two main technical documents the Issue Paper and Stock-Taking Paper - and six background papers. The two main technical documents are inter-locking partners, that together, constitute the basis for discussion at the Conference. They share many of the same themes and concerns, but possess fundamentally different objectives: the Issues Paper is concerned mainly with outlining concepts, issues and policies and the Stock-Taking Paper provides a comprehensive empirical review of processes, patterns and trends at multiple levels and scales. Together, the two papers provide a broad, integrated and thematically coherent examination of the issues surrounding the multifunctional character of agriculture and land, which ensures that both papers add value to policy-makers, technicians and practitioners alike and minimises the risk of either duplication or contradiction. The six Background Papers explore a range of specific issues in more detail thereby illustrating the utility of the MFCAL-approach as a descriptive and analytical tool.
Conference OutputsThe Conference will have two main outputs: 1) Summary Report; 2) Main Conference Report. The Summary Report will be produced immediately after the Maastricht Conference. It will be short, focusing on the main conclusions and findings of the Conference.
The Main Conference Report will be made available for wide-ranging distribution. It will consist of: i) an extended technical section based on the various Conference inputs; ii) summaries of the discussions; and iii) the main findings and conclusions.
The findings and conclusions of the Reports will also be reflected in FAO's contribution to the CSD-8 process.