1992 - United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio).
Identification of Nine Major Groups and adoption of Agenda 21 by governments. Agenda 21 includes Chapter 14 on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD).
Outcome: FAO was officially given the Task Manager responsibilities for SARD Chapter 14 of Agenda 21 in September 1993 by the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development, and has been reporting on its implementation since then. Agenda 21 designated nine sectors of society, known as Major Groups1, as critical for the development and implementation of policies for sustainable development. As stated in the preamble to the section on strengthening the role of Major Groups in Agenda 21:
"23.3. Any policies, definitions or rules affecting access to and participation by non-governmental organizations in the work of United Nations institutions or agencies associated with the implementation of Agenda 21 must apply equally to all major groups."
March 2000 - Commission on Sustainable Development, Eighth Session.
A Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on Land and Agriculture, focused on agricultural production techniques, consumption patterns, best practices in resources management, knowledge, trade issues and economic incentives in agriculture.
Outcome: FAO was mandated by ECOSOC to continue the process of dialogue and consultation with the Major Groups in preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD (Commission on Sustainable Development Report, Eighth Session, 24 April-5 May 2000):
"46. As part of the ongoing review of progress towards SARD and within existing structures and resources, FAO and the Commission secretariat, in consultation with Governments, relevant international organizations and all major groups, are invited to continue the stakeholder dialogue on SARD, including facilitating the adequate and meaningful participation of stakeholders from developing countries. In preparing for the tenth session of the Commission and the 10-year review of the outcome of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, this dialogue should emphasise the identification of specific examples and the development of case studies that illustrate or support the principles of SARD."
April 2001 - E-Conference and SARD forum.
Following an E-Conference to assist with the drafting of the Task Manager report for CSD 10, a SARD Forum was held concurrently with the FAO Committee on Agriculture (COAG), 16th Session, Rome. The SARD Forum's Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue centred on resources needed and enhancing partnerships for SARD involving Major Groups, regional representatives of the FAO NGO/CSO International Planning Committee (IPC) for the World Food Summit: five years later (WFS: fyl) and NGOs/CSOs through funding from the Government of the Netherlands. COAG agenda item 7 discussed a report entitled "The Place of Agriculture in Sustainable Development: The Way Forward on SARD" in plenary.
Outcome: The 16th Session of COAG (March 2001) supported the ECOSOC and CSD-8 decisions, as follows:
"49. The Committee agreed that, for this agenda item, representatives of major groups (NGOs, farmers, business, indigenous people, etc.) could speak along with Members, without this becoming a precedent. This agreement was in line with the request of the Eighth Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-8), which invited FAO to involve diverse stakeholders in the review of SARD in preparation for the Earth Summit in 2002 (Rio+10). Similarly, the Committee also welcomed the Multi-stakeholder Forum on SARD in preparation for Rio+10, which was taking place concurrently with COAG." (COAG Report on the 16th Session, 26 - 30 March 2001, Rome)
June 2001 - FAO Council, 120th Session.
The 120th Session of FAO Council reviewed the report of the 16th Session of COAG.
Outcome: FAO Council made the following comments and recommendations on the Organization's work on SARD:
"29 ...appreciated the widening of partnerships and expansion of dialogue to include, inter alia, non-governmental, civil society organizations and the private sector. The Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) that was held concurrently with the COAG session exemplified this broadening of dialogue. The Council endorsed FAO's role as "Task Manager" for those chapters of Agenda 21 that are under its leadership, and the proposal that SARD be a standing agenda item on the COAG Agenda every four years."
"32. called for continued support to Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development and related programmes within FAO to enhance improved livelihoods for the rural poor in developing countries and the productivity of small-scale farming; also recognized that the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) contributed to SARD in meeting food security; proposed that SARD and related programmes should also address broader rural development issues such as agribusiness and entrepreneurship, capacity-building and strengthening rural institutions, water harvesting and natural resource management, better extension - research linkages, gender, increased civil society participation, market access, and rural infrastructure development and other services; recommended that FAO should address the impact of HIV-AIDS, along with other UN Agencies, within its mandate in the context of sustainable agriculture and rural development."
June 2002 - World Food Summit: Fyl (Rome)
A workshop and side event meetings at the NGO/CSO Forum and meetings of the IPC highlighted concerns of NGOs/CSOs about the World Summit on Sustainable Development process. Suggestions were made of possible messages to bring forward from the NGO/CSO Forum of the WFS:fyl to the WSSD. A Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue was held at the WFS:fyl.
Outcome:These events provided further insights on civil society priorities and have informed the design of the SARD Initiative.
June 2002 - SARD International Mountains Conference (Adelboden, Switzerland).
The Conference involving Governments and NGOs/CSOs of mountain areas discussed Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development case studies related to Access to Resources, Fair Conditions of Employment in Agriculture and Good Practices in SARD, and the Roles and Tasks of Agriculture.
Outcome: Political support for the SARD Initiative through the Adelboden Declaration, which "...call[s] on interested countries and other partners to support the SARD Initiative... being facilitated by FAO and to strengthen...[its] emphasis on SARD in mountains; to establish an Adelboden Group on SARD in mountains as a platform for discussion of policies and policy instruments, exchange of experience, and preparation of initiatives."
November 2001 - June 2002: Preparation for WSSD.
In order to build a lasting and productive dialogue on several key SARD issues, as well as develop a framework for the SARD Initiative, representatives from the Major Groups and the FAO Task Manager for Chapter 14 held ongoing weekly/fortnightly conference calls, a virtual retreat consisting of three intensive conference calls to define terms of engagement, plan and implement side events, and conducted meetings concurrent with the FAO Conference and at the WSSD PrepComs. Other key milestones during the PrepComs include:
- A Side Event during PrepCom II (31 January, 2002), entitled "Land, Food and Agriculture in Agenda 21: Assessing Issues of Land, Water, Food, and Agriculture to Reduce Poverty and Implement Sustainable Development," to assess progress, lessons learned, new challenges, and main constraints related to SARD. An important outcome of this meeting and other informal meetings during PrepCom II was the participation by and support received from interested Consumer and Media organizations.
- Informative and consultative meetings during PrepComs III and IV (March-June, 2002) on the SARD Initiative. These meetings included the participation of NGOs, Governments and Inter-Governmental Organizations.
- The Ministerial Roundtable on Agriculture, Food Security and Rural Development held during PrepCom IV (June, 2002). A brief presentation on the SARD Initiative was made to Government delegates during this Roundtable.
Outcome: Access to resources, a global campaign on fair conditions of agricultural employment and Good practices for SARD were identified as initial areas of possible joint work. This Stakeholder coordination resulted in SARD receiving a more prominent place in the negotiated texts of WSSD. The SARD Initiative framework, as it currently stands, was designed and some Governments, Civil Society Organizations and Intergovernmental Organizations expressed interest in or provided inputs and support for the Initiative.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, 2002)
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:
• In preparation for the Summit, FAO in collaboration with members of Major Groups and Civil Society hosted an Electronic Forum from June 24 to August 17, 2002 to promote SARD (land, water and food security) and to explore and the develop SARD implementation initiative related to: Access to Resources (land and genetic resources); SARD Good Practices, Principles and Case Studies; and Fair Conditions for Employment in Agriculture.
• The preparation of a SARD Initiative was facilitated by FAO in its capacity as Task Manager for Chapter 14. FAO launched the SARD Initiative at a series of side events during the WSSD with expressions of interest and support coming from 65 governments and 80 civil society organizations.
The SARD Initiative was presented to delegates at an official side event as well as a plenary partnership announcement - both were convened at the summit conference centre - while a parallel event was hosted at the offsite Ubuntu Village.
20 August 2002 - Side Event on “Participation in Implementing Chapter 14: the SARD Initiative”, Johannesburg
The Side Event on the SARD Initiative took place on 20 August, 2002 during the World Summit on Sustainable Development. FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf presented the SARD Initiative including its genesis, rational, objectives and expected outcomes. He exposed the following steps of the Initiative, further recognized the importance of the multi-stakeholder consultations that have taken place under the SARD Initiative and encouraged the dialogue to continue with the full support of the FAO:
“This WSSD Side Event is one important opportunity to revitalise SARD as an integral part of sustainable development. The consultative process will culminate in a stakeholder design workshop, planned for October 2002, to finalise the design, outcomes and mechanisms for the Initiative before moving into the implementation phase.”
Several governments and civil society representatives thanked FAO for its role as a facilitator of the SARD Initiative and expressed their willingness to further partnership with the FAO under the initiative.
26 August 2002 - Parallel event on SARD Series, Johannesburg
The SARD Initiative parallel event took place in the first day of the official WSSD Summit. The nine Major Groups of Civil Society along with representatives from Media and Consumer interest groups came together to discuss the ways and means to build capacity among rural communities to achieve ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just, culturally appropriate, holistic and scientific - in a word, sustainable - agriculture and rural development. The discussion addressed three overarching themes: 1) Improving people's access to genetic, technological, land, water, market and information resources; 2) Fostering fair conditions of employment in agriculture and rural development; and 3) Promoting good practices for SARD.
In the presence of two hundred civil society participants, representatives from the United Nations International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Governments of Australia, Finland, France, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa contributed statements to the discussion. Full support was exposed for the SARD Initiative seen as a concrete means of achieving better access to land and agricultural resources for disadvantaged groups, championing fairer labour standards for the rural poor, promoting grass roots sustainable agriculture and upscaling successful pilot projects.
1st April 2003 - SARD Initiative Stakeholder Design Consultation
The SARD Initiative Stakeholder Design Consultation took place as a Side Event of the FAO Committee on Agriculture’s 17th Session (COAG) at FAO headquarters in Rome, Italy. The Consultation provided an opportunity for the different stakeholders to make suggestions as to the roles that participating Civil Society Organizations, Governments, and Intergovernmental Organizations should play in the SARD Initiative as well as how the SARD Initiative can best contribute to improved livelihoods of the rural poor and disadvantaged groups and to the achievement of the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and the Millennium Development Goals.
March 2004 - International Forum on Partnerships for Sustainable Development
The International Forum on Partnerships for Sustainable Development was convened at FAO headquarters in
Rome, Italy from 4 to 6 March 2004. It was organized by the Italian Ministry for
the Environment and Territory, in cooperation with the United Nations Department of
Economic and Social Affairs (UN/DESA).
The purpose of this Forum is to enhance the contribution of partnerships towards:
• the implementation of sustainable development goals and objectives, particularly those related to
the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation and other agreements related to sustainable development;
• the development of models of technology transfer and use of innovative financial mechanism.
The Forum discussions provided an important opportunity to identify the essential elements of partnerships for sustainable development and the lessons learned from experience to date, focusing on the following five questions:
1. Is there anything unique about the WSSD partnerships on agriculture, rural development, desertification and land?
2. What have been the major challenges facing these partnerships?
3. Have there been any defining moments that have been critical to progress in the initiatives and what lessons can be drawn from this experience?
4. What do partnerships need in order to form and operate effectively and to be successful in achieving their objectives?
5. How can we assess the results and impacts of partnerships, during the implementation process, individually and jointly?
SARD partnerships were especially discussed by one of the breakout groups that worked on agriculture, rural development and diversification.
Among others a main outcome was a better understanding of key elements of good partnership when face with differential power relations.
April 2005 - 19th session of the Committee on Agriculture, session on SARD and Good Practices
Outcome: The 19th Session of COAG (13th-16th of April 2005) reviewed a paper on SARD and acknowledged the value of the SARD Initiative as follows:
The Committee agreed that the SARD Initiative is an important instrument for fulfilling FAO’s responsibility as UN System Task Manager for WSSD follow-up on implementation of Chapter 14, Agenda 21. It welcomed FAO’s continued support for the SARD Initiative, concurred with the three action areas listed in paragraph 42, and appreciated the high degree of stakeholder participation. A number of delegates expressed the hope that the scope of the SARD Initiative would be enlarged in due course. (para. 21 of the Report of the 19th Session of the Committee on Agriculture, Rome, 13-16 April 2005)
14 April 2005 -Side Event on SARD and Civil Society during the 19th session of the Committee on Agriculture
Following the plenary discussion on SARD, a side event on SARD and Civil Society took place on 14 April. Four prominent civil society and government panellists took part and offered diverse but complementary views on sustainable agriculture and rural development. They underscored the importance of civil society, government and intergovernmental collaborative efforts for the implementation of SARD, promoted people-centred approaches to scale up local level successes and contribute to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
29-30 October 2005 - SARD Initiative Business Meeting
Six of the eight Major Group Focal Points (representing NGOs, Indigenous Peoples, Farmers, Youth, Women, Science & Technology) and the FAO SARD Initiative team met in Rome for a SARD Initiative Business Meeting. This provided an opportunity for SARD Initiative stakeholders to review the Initiative’s achievements over the past year, and discuss priorities and goals for the next twelve months.