About the Earth Summit
The first United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED Earth Summit) was held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. It represented a turning point in the way we look at environment and development. At the Earth Summit, world leaders adopted Agenda 21, a blue print to attain sustainable development in the 21st century. Agenda 21 includes Chapter 14, Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD). At UNCED, nine major groups were designated to represent civil society’s concerns in the follow-up work, and the UN established a Commission on Sustainable Development to guide and monitor the follow-up process, which included a major global stock-taking event every five years.
Agenda 21 provides a comprehensive action programme to attain sustainable development and address both environmental and developmental issues in an integrated manner at global, national and local levels.
Chapter 14 of Agenda 21 recognizes and confirsm the importance of the sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD) concept. Adopted at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, it sets out the programmes and specific actions needed to promote SARD, and represents the commitment of UN member nations to implement these programmes and actions.
Commission on Sustainable Development
The UN Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) was set up after the UNCED Summit in Rio to meet annually at UN Headquarters in New York and to follow-up by monitoring and reporting on the implementation of agreements at the local, national, regional and international levels. The UN Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) provides the secretariat for the Commission. FAO serves as Task Manager for Chapter 14 (SARD) and is responsible for monitoring and reporting progress on SARD to the CSD.
Agenda 21 designated nine sectors of society, known as CSD Major Groups, as critical for the development and implementation of policies for sustainable development. The nine major groups that work closely with CSD are: (i) business and industry, (ii) children and youth, (iii) farmers, (iv) indigenous people, (v) local authorities, (vi) NGOs, (vii) scientific and technological community, (viii) women, and (ix) workers and trade unions. As stated in the preamble to the section on strengthening the role of Major Groups in Agenda 21:
Earth Summit + 5
Progress in implementing Agenda 21 was reviewed by a Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly in 1997 (Earth Summit + 5). FAO prepared the Chapter 14 Task Manager’s Report for this Session, and the conclusions reached are contained in the Land and sustainable agriculture decision of UNGA Special Session, 1997.