Major Groups and SARD: from Rio to Johannesburg
Since Rio, Major Group representatives have worked with the UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and UN system task managers to facilitate engagement of civil society in the implementation of Agenda 21. Major Group focal points for SARD played an active role in the multistakeholder consultations and dialogues that led to the launching of the SARD Initiative at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) in 2002. Consequently, the SARD Initiative is one of the few partnership initiatives that involves almost all Major Groups.
Major Groups and the Development of the SARD Initiative
Since 2002, a member of the Major Group for NGOs (International Partners for Sustainable Agriculture - IPSA) has facilitated multi-major group participation in the SARD Initiative through outreach, information sharing and advisory services to FAO to ensure strong civil society presence.
In 2005 FAO and its civil society partners completed work on a multi-donor trust fund project for the SARD Initiative that calls for creation of a SARD Initiative Steering Committee in which both civil society and funding partner contributors would be represented, together with FAO, which provides the secretariat for the Initiative. Pending establishment of this committee, the informal multi-major group mechanism that guided the developmental phase for the SARD Initiative has continued to meet periodically, to review workplans and decide on future priorities.
Planning for the future
During the first half of 2006, with funding support from the government of Norway chanelled through FAO, the major group focal points commissioned a paper on Enhancing civil society contributions to the SARD Initiative. On the basis of this, they have decided to undertake a strategic planning exercise that will help them better define their own roles and those of other civil society contributors to the SARD Initiative, during the time remaining before they report to CSD in 2008 and 2009.