The Johannesburg Plan of Implementation that was adopted at the conclusion of the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in September 2002 provides a framework for action to implement the original UNCED commitments, with special focus on Water, Energy, Health, Agriculture and Biodiversity (WEHAB). A key feature of the preparatory process for the WSSD was the decision of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) to give much greater emphasis to implementation processes involving stakeholder partnerships, with active participation of civil society. This led to a call for partnership initiatives to be developed as a primary instrument for implementing Agenda 21.
In response to this call, preparation of a SARD Initiative was facilitated by FAO in its capacity as Task Manager for Chapter 14, and launched in Johannesburg at a series of side events during the WSSD. Representatives from 65 governments, 5 UN Agencies, and 80 civil society organizations from nine Major Groups, including Farmers, NGOs, Indigenous Peoples, Workers and Trade Unions, Business and Industry, Local Authorities, the Research and Technological Community, Women and Youth - along with representatives from Media and Consumer interest groups – participated and expressed their interest in continued involvement in the Initiative.