The Adelboden Group met for the second time in Rome, Italy, on 4 and 5 October 2004. More than 80 participants from 30 countries representing governments, international organizations and civil society participated in this international meeting in order to prioritize project activities for 2005, finalize partnerships and discuss project implementation. This one and a half day meeting was organized by FAO and co-chaired by Ms. Jeannette Gurung, Director of Women Organising for Change in Agriculture & NRM (WOCAN), an international NGO and focal point for the Major Group on Women, and Mr. Miguel Palomino de la Gala of the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Strong mobilisation of the participants
One year after their first meeting, the Adelboden Group members - key partners of the SARD-M Project – emphasized the need to eradicate poverty in mountain regions, by creating an enabling policy environment, by combining their voices, efforts and resources in support of the project.
Commitment to work together
Participants in the meeting emphasized the common concerns shared by the mountain communities worldwide, despite very diverse climatic, social and economic conditions. “In Peru, 22 of the 25 regions of the countries are composed of high mountains”, said the Peruvian representative. “Therefore, Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in mountain regions is essential for the country. Peru has a particular interest in the SARD-M Project” he added.
“We, in Switzerland, have in our Constitution the mandate to support sustainable rural development and agriculture in our mountain regions. Therefore we are willing to learn not only from the Swiss experience but also from the experiences of others”, said the Swiss representative. “We have much to gain in sharing good and bad practices, as far as the policy framework is concerned. Farmers from various mountain regions in the world can benefit from concrete experiences in biodiversity, crop production or marketing”, he added.
Similarly, countries like Morocco which recently adopted a National Charter, Algeria which has just formulated a Strategy for Sustainable Rural Development (including the mountain regions), and Bolivia which has conducted an interesting review of National Policies on the topic, offered to share their work with other stakeholders in the SARD-M Project.
Diversity and participation
The strong mobilization of all stakeholders – governments, international organizations and civil society – and the participatory approach developed in the meeting testify to "the Adelboden spirit".
The civil society organizations emphasized the key role they play in the project. Experience shows that the participation of civil society is a key to success. In this regard, much can be learned from the Major Groups, essential stakeholders in the SARD-M Project which, in other fields, have created the enabling conditions for the participation of rural communities. The representative of the Major Group on Women demonstrated this point: “We have a wonderful success story in Nepal where a FAO-IFAD forestry project was made highly successful thanks to the combined efforts of rural women who formed a strong alliance. This professional group of women managed to challenge and to change attitudes, while strengthening capacities”, she said. Similarly, more than a dozen other civil society organizations - whether Major Groups or regional mountain organizations, representing all regions of the world – reported on their experiences in the field and their future contributions to the SARD-M Project.
Effective partnerships: financial commitments, expertise and technical assistance
Switzerland confirmed its US$ 1 million commitment for the four-year SARD-M Project, while France and Japan announced their support through the secondment of experts, a Project Coordinator and an Associate Professional Officer, respectively.
In addition to these financial and human resources, the project will benefit from significant in-kind support. During the working group sessions and in their reports to the plenary, various governments from the Mediterranean region, Africa and Latin America, together with Major Groups and other civil society organizations, announced their assistance and logistical support for case studies, workshops and training sessions.
Priority areas: first analyze existing mountain policies
The participants approved the project activities proposed by FAO for 2005. Questioned on which areas they considered as priority, the participants gave the highest ranking to the following three activities:
- Assess the strengths and weaknesses of mountain policies, including social, economic, institutional and environmental aspects, in relation to Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development principles. This analysis will capitalize on existing literature, partners’ experiences and case-studies, possibly in Latin America and the Mediterranean region initially.
- Strengthen local institutions, by developing training materials and sessions, in close collaboration with NGOs, producers’ associations, cooperatives and community-based organizations.
- Analyze positive and negative externalities of mountain regions through a comparative review of existing methods and tools focussing on water, biodiversity, agricultural heritage, indigenous knowledge, demographic trends, tourism, livelihoods diversification, social and environmental services.
Project implementation: a key role for Regional Focal Points
Participants underlined that the Regional Focal Points will be the corner stones of the project. The Regional Focal Points will act as central pivots of the project, developing synergies with partners and related projects, building the link between global and national levels, enhancing communication, coordination and networking in the region, while supporting the design and implementation of project activities. The participants suggested the designation of focal points also at the national level.
Launching the project in early 2005
In the closing session, the Chairpersons provided a synthesis of all the participants’ concerns, wishes and commitments, and recommended that the project be launched in early 2005, focusing on the priority activities identified by the participants, with the financial contribution of Switzerland, staff seconded by France and Japan, as well as in-kind support provided by various governments and civil society organizations. Participants agreed to mobilize additional resources from European and international funds. Next steps also include the finalization of the work plan and agreements with the Regional Focal Points.