The SARD-M Project Steering Committee met on 8 February 2007 at FAO headquarters to review the activities conducted in 2006 and approve the project work plan and budget for 2007. The Committee was satisfied with the overall progress of the project and showed a keen interest in the first results of the interregional synthesis. It approved the priorities of the work plan for 2007, the final year of the project, which includes the implementation of follow-up activities related to the findings of the SARD-M policy assessments, finalization of the interregional analysis, information sheets, practical guides and reports, and the dissemination of these outputs at the regional and global levels. The Third Meeting of the Adelboden Group will be an important step to define potentials for building on the momentum created by SARD-M Project activities.
Translation of policy assessment findings into concrete actions on the ground
The implementation of follow-up activities, identified by the regional and national stakeholders themselves, is an important undertaking to translate the findings of SARD-M policy assessments into concrete action on the ground. They are a major step to maintain and strengthen the positive momentum developed thus far to improve the policies, institutions and processes for SARD in mountain regions.
In the Carpathians, SARD-M policy assessments were conducted in three countries, in collaboration with the UNEP Vienna – Interim Secretariat for the Carpathian Convention, as a contribution to Article 7 of the Carpathian Convention on Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry. The remaining four countries of the Carpathian Mountains also expressed their interest in having a similar assessment implemented in their countries that will be used as a basis for the Working Group on SARD and forestry established by the First Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Carpathian Convention (COP1).
Representatives of the South East European countries, who participated in the Regional Workshop in the Mediterranean Basin, expressed a profound interest to have SARD-M policy assessments conducted in their countries as a contribution to the South East Europe Convention process. In response to this request, the SARD-M Project is collaborating with the Balkan Foundation for Sustainable Development to implement policy assessments in Albania, Bulgaria and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
The Committee also approved the implementation of a follow-up activity in the Hindu Kush-Himalayas (HKH) focussing on the use of inter-country experiences to develop practical approaches and tools to promote better inter-institutional coordination for the formulation and implementation of policies for SARD in the HKH. In the Mediterranean Basin, a national level workshop is being planned in Morocco to see how concretely SARD-M assessment recommendations can be implemented at the country level.
The Committee also reasserted its desire to have an activity implemented in Sub-Saharan Africa and approved the pursuing of a policy assessment in Ethiopia in collaboration with the Global Mountain Programme of the CGIAR.
Promoting and rewarding positive externalities of mountain regions
The issue of positive externalities of mountain areas is significant in that it can play a catalytic role in mobilizing policy makers to renew their commitment towards sustainable development of mountain areas. The Committee fully endorsed the proposed collaboration of the SARD-M Project and EUROMONTANA to develop an issue paper on positive externalities of mountain regions which would cover Europe and other regions such as the Andes and Hindu Kush-Himalayas. The paper will also be a topic of discussion during the Third Meeting of the Adelboden Group.
Third Meeting of the Adelboden Group: making the most of built-up social capital
The Adelboden Group has played an important role not only in the formulation of the project, but also in the support, feedback and advice it has provided throughout its implementation. With such partners from governments, civil society and international organizations involved in sustainable mountain development issues, the project can tap into the valuable network and social capital it has consolidated since the International Conference on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Mountain Regions held in Adelboden, Switzerland, in 2002.
The Interim Bureau of the Adelboden Group mobilized a Task Force to prepare a proposal of the Third Meeting of the Adelboden Group, which was submitted to the Steering Committee and very well received. The meeting should present and discuss the results of the SARD-M Project and formulate key messages for policy definition and implementation at national, regional and international levels that can rally support for and disseminate the project results. The meeting should lead to concrete commitments by all participating stakeholders. An e-consultation will be organized in April in collaboration with the Mountain Forum, allowing for the participation of a wider audience and adding interesting points of views and proposals that will be discussed during the Adelboden Group Meeting.
Engaging partners in the dissemination and supporting project results through the CSD process
As the SARD-M Project has entered its final year of activities, the members of the Committee called for the further dissemination and valorisation of work conducted by the project, in 2007 and beyond.
The Third Meeting of the Adelboden Group will be an important step in this process, as it will not only allow for the dissemination of the project results to a wide range of stakeholders, but also enable the project to get commitments from the representatives of governments and civil society as to how they can assist in disseminating them further at the national and regional levels.
Efforts will also be made to further communicate the important outputs produced by the project both within FAO and the greater UN and international arena. One concrete step to address this need will be a contribution to the 2008-2009 Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) dealing with SARD issues.
The project has been demonstrating the relevance of its multistakeholder and regional approach and of its results, which is reflected through the demand that has been generated for implementing concrete follow-up activities on the ground. This has led to the expression of some positive perspectives for a second phase to the project. The concrete priorities and activities that such a phase could address will be an important issue of discussions with the Adelboden Group.