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Sustainable livelihoods

October 2003

First Meeting of the "Adelboden Group" on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Mountain Regions (SARD-M)

FAO Headquarters
Rome, Italy
11-12 September 2003

Abstract

The First Meeting of the "Adelboden Group" on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Mountain Regions (SARD-M) took place at FAO Headquarters on 11-12 September 2003. The meeting was organized by FAO's Rural Institutions and Participation Service, with support from the Swiss Government, in the framework of the follow-up to the Adelboden International Conference on SARD-M held in Switzerland in June 2002. The aim of the first gathering of the Adelboden Group, which was created at the end of this Conference, was to jointly formulate, through a participatory process involving governments, international organizations and civil society groups, a four-year project proposal on SARD-M to be submitted for funding to governmental, international and private donors.

The 58 participants, representing 15 governments, 11 civil society groups and 5 international organizations, discussed and approved the objectives, outputs and activities of the SARD-M project proposal. The long-term objective of the project has been defined as to "facilitate the improved formulation, review, implementation and evaluation of SARD policies for mountain regions at national, decentralized and community levels, taking into account global, regional and trans-boundary contexts and linkages, in order to enhance livelihoods in mountain regions". The coordination and potential synergies with other projects and initiatives relating to SARD (chapter 14 of the comprehensive environmental plan of action "Agenda 21") and Sustainable Mountain Development (Chapter 13 of Agenda 21) have also been examined. Following the contributions and recommendations of the Adelboden Group, FAO is currently finalizing a project document on SARD-M.


In the framework of the follow-up to the International Conference on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Mountain Regions (SARD-M) held in Adelboden, Switzerland, in June 2002, FAO's Rural Institutions and Participation Service (SDAR) of the Sustainable Development Department (SD), with the support of the Swiss Government, organized the First Meeting of the "Adelboden Group" on SARD-M in Rome 11-12 September 2003. Through a participatory process involving governments, international organizations and civil society groups, the purpose of this meeting was to discuss and agree on the objectives and activities of a four-year project proposal on SARD-M to be submitted for funding to governmental, international and private donors.

At the end of the Adelboden International Conference on SARD-M organised by the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture in close collaboration with FAO in the framework of the 2002 International Year of Mountains, nearly 200 representatives of mountain people, governments, international organizations and civil society groups adopted the Adelboden Declaration on SARD-M. This political Declaration calls on governments, international organizations and civil society groups to develop, through a participatory approach, SARD policies and actions for mountain areas, in order to enhance the livelihoods of their populations. In order to achieve this, the Declaration invites "FAO, governments and other relevant organizations to make proposals for follow-up in line with the recommendations of this declaration", and recommends the establishment of the Adelboden Group "as a platform for discussion of policies and policy instruments, exchange of experience, and preparation of initiatives" (for more details on the Adelboden Declaration, Mountains and their Populations, see box below).

Abstracts on the Adelboden Declaration, Mountains and their Populations

Recalling the importance of Chapters 14 on SARD and 13 on Sustainable Mountain Development of the comprehensive plan of action "Agenda 21" and the decisions of the UN General Assembly to designate 2002 as the "International Year of Mountains", as well as considering the FAO "World Food Summit: five years later" which organised a side-event on Sustainable Mountain Development, the Adelboden Declaration calls on governments, inter-governmental organizations and other international organizations, and major groups of civil society and other stakeholders to develop and improve, in a participatory process, SARD policies and actions for mountain areas, in order to enhance the livelihoods of their populations.

FAO estimates that about 720 million people, or 12 percent of the world's population, live in mountain areas1. Approximately 70 percent of these remain rural and continue to depend on the natural resource base of land, water and forest for their livelihood. Of total world's mountain people, about 90 percent, or 663 million, live in developing and transition countries. Of these, 271 million are estimated to be vulnerable to food insecurity and, of these, around half are likely to be chronically hungry.

The Adelboden Declaration outlines disadvantages and potentials of mountain areas and their populations, noting in particular that:

  • mountain areas and their populations are more exposed to poverty, hunger, social and political marginalization and conflicts, and are therefore generally behind in development;
  • mountain agriculture has specificities and some inherent constraints due to geographical isolation, difficult climatic conditions and fragile ecosystems rendering production, marketing and development more difficult;
  • globalization has often had negative effects on mountain areas, and that it is important to reduce market distortions;

and, on the other hand, that:

  • mountain areas offer certain comparative advantages and have significant potentials, and provide a wide range of goods and services to the rest of society, particularly in relation to biodiversity, landscape, water, risk prevention, specific products and culture;
  • mountain areas and the lowlands are interdependent, for example through migration and freshwater linkages.

In this context, the Adelboden Declaration examines the challenges of SARD in mountains and the actions to be taken more specifically under four themes: 1) roles and tasks of agriculture; 2) good practices for SARD in mountains; 3) access to resources; and 4) fair conditions of work.

To respond to the many challenges of SARD in Mountains, the Declaration states that coherent policies, instruments and programmes need to be developed and applied in a participatory way across all domains, namely in the political, legal and institutional environment; social and cultural; natural; economic; and in the field of capacity-building and knowledge.

To this effect, the Adelboden Declaration calls on interested countries and other partners:

  • " to support the SARD Initiative and the International Partnership on Sustainable Development in Mountain Regions being facilitated by FAO;
  • to establish an Adelboden Group on SARD in Mountains as a platform for discussion of policies and policy instruments, exchange of experience, and preparation of initiatives;
  • to invite FAO, governments and other relevant organizations to make proposals for follow-up in line with the recommendations of the Declaration; and
  • to promote and incorporate the outcome of the Adelboden Conference and its Declaration at the Johannesburg "World Summit on Sustainable Development" (WSSD).

For the full text of the Declaration go to: www.sard-m2002.ch/declaration.doc

As a result of the consensus generated by the adoption of the Adelboden Declaration for developing SARD policies and actions in mountain areas, the Swiss Government and FAO agreed, through a one-year support project on SARD-M, to work together on the follow-up to the Adelboden Conference in order to:

Accordingly, a series of activities has been organized. In a brainstorming session held in early June 2003, about 20 experts from governments, major groups of civil society and FAO departments discussed and agreed on the preliminary orientations and activities for the project proposal on SARD-M. An information event on the Adelboden Declaration and SARD-M was then organized with several countries representatives attending the FAO Council at the end of June 2003.

As a next step, FAO organized the First Meeting of the Adelboden Group to discuss a document on SARD in Mountain Regions introducing the recommendations and operational elements of the four-year project proposal.

58 representatives of 15 governments, 11 civil society groups and 5 international organizations, including FAO, participated in the Adelboden Group's first gathering in an open, focussed and action-oriented discussion. They discussed, amended and approved the long-term objective of the SARD-M project proposal, as well as related specific objectives, outputs and activities. The long-term objective has been defined as to: "Facilitate the improved formulation, review, implementation and evaluation of SARD policies for mountain regions at national, decentralized and community levels, taking into account global, regional and trans-boundary contexts and linkages, in order to enhance livelihoods in mountain regions".

Three specific objectives for the project proposal on SARD-M were also approved as follows:

  1. Improve the understanding of the role and value of mountain ecosystems and the need for effective SARD mountain-specific policies, legislation and institutions at various levels and under different contexts.


  2. Strengthen the capacity of governments and other stakeholders to promote SARD mountain-specific policies, instruments and recommendations.


  3. Implement SARD policies for mountain regions and related instruments at local, national and trans-boundary levels.

Considering FAO's role as Task Manager for Chapters 13 (Sustainable Mountain Development) and 14 (SARD) of the comprehensive environmental plan of action "Agenda 21", the coordination and potential synergies with other projects and initiatives relating to SARD and sustainable development in mountain areas were examined. Accordingly, it was confirmed by the Adelboden Group that the SARD-M project is a specific project under the overall umbrella of SARD and has direct links with other mountain-related initiatives/projects/programmes such as, notably, the International Partnership on Sustainable Mountain Development (see graphic above).

Following the contributions and recommendations of the participants in the First Meeting of the Adelboden Group, FAO is currently finalizing a project document on SARD-M. This proposal will be presented to potential partners and donors. An information session is foreseen with selected countries representatives attending the forthcoming FAO Conference (29 November-10 December 2003). The SARD-M project will be also represented at the high level First Global Meeting of Members of the Mountain Partnership in Merano, Italy, on 5-6 October 2003.

For more information/details on the SARD-M project, please contact:
Luca.Fedostiani@fao.org and Massimo.Diomedi@fao.org

For more information/details on the SARD-M Adelboden Conference, please see:
www.sard-m2002.ch/index.htm www.rdfs.net/news/interviews/0210in/0210in_adelboden_en.htm

Endnotes

1See the FAO/SDRN multidisciplinary study: "Towards a GIS-based analysis of mountain environments and populations", Environment and Natural Resources, Working Paper No. 10, FAO, 2003.



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