The SARD-M project liaises between Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) and Mountain issues. The project recalls the importance of these issues - both discussed at the Rio Conference in 1992 - and identifies the many challenges of Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in mountain regions, and calls for coherent policies, instruments and programmes.
Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development-related policies will improve rural livelihoods
Access to land, water, markets and financial services, recognition of the rights of the most vulnerable groups, community empowerment, democracy and good governance are prerequisites to sustainable development. Appropriate, well-targeted and comprehensive policies, legislations and institutions are needed to improve the rural livelihoods of the most vulnerable groups. These policies should take into account the specific needs of mountain communities, as well as the essential linkage between mountain and lowland populations. These policies also need to be holistic - considering agricultural, economic, social and cultural issues - at all levels.
Mountain communities are among the most vulnerable in the world
About 270 million mountain people lack food security, of whom 135 million are chronically hungry. While the vast majority of mountain people are rural, agriculture alone cannot ensure their livelihoods. Mountains constitute a wealth of strategic resources: fresh water for half of humanity and the biodiversity that will help feed the world. Mountain populations may also benefit from new economic opportunities, once empowered and involved in the decision process.
A voice for mountain populations
Mountain populations lack a voice and political influence because they are physically isolated and socially marginalized. They are far from decision centres, on the wrong side of the digital divide and often do not represent a critical mass to impact on political decisions. Few countries have developed specific policies, legislations and institutions to address the specific needs of mountain populations.
A SARD project to serve mountain populations
As the United Nations lead agency on both sustainable agriculture and rural development and mountain issues, FAO, with support from the Swiss government, prepared a four-year multi-donor project on SARD in mountain regions (SARD-M). The SARD-M project aims to facilitate the formulation, implementation and evaluation of sustainable agriculture and rural development policies. The project also favours the development and implementation of institutions and legislations inspired by SARD principles and adapted to mountain specificities.
The SARD-M project is a unique opportunity for all concerned stakeholders – governments, the international community and civil society – to develop joint initiatives in favour of sustainable development. At the ground level, this participatory project will benefit mountain populations worldwide.