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May 2006

Interview on the outcomes of the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICARRD)

In an interview, Parviz Koohafkan, Director of FAO’s Rural Development Division and Executive Secretary of the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICARRD) shares the main outcomes of the Conference held in Porto Alegre in March 2006 and provides his views about its follow-up.

From 7 to 10 March 2006, 1 400 participants including 450 NGO observers, delegations from 96 FAO member countries, international experts and representatives from over 130 farmer and civil society organisations met in Porto Alegre. During the four days of the Conference, participants reviewed different experiences of agrarian reform around the world, analysed impacts, processes, mechanisms, reviewed the roles of the different actors involved, and then discussed proposals for future action.

A Final Declaration was adopted at the end of the Conference inviting all governments to adopt policies that promote agrarian reform and rural development to benefit the poor and most marginalized. Governments committed themselves to developing mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation to reinforce processes of agrarian reform and rural development at national and international levels and to establish mechanisms for periodic evaluation of progress in these areas. They reaffirmed that “ wider, secure and sustainable access to land, water and other natural resources related to rural people's livelihoods is essential to hunger and poverty eradication, contributes to sustainable development and should therefore be an inherent part of national policies ”. They also reiterated their commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals and recognized that “ food insecurity, hunger and rural poverty often result from the imbalances in the present process of development which hinder wider access to land, water and other natural resources and other livelihood assets ”.

In parallel, Special Thematic Sessions made specific recommendations for follow-up to the conference and concrete suggestions or commitments for the implementation of activities related to the topics discussed. In addition, Partnership Initiatives were presented, out of which six were signed at ICARRD. For instance, an agreement was signed on 10 March between FAO and Portuguese-speaking countries to build national capacities in property arrangements, land management and related legal issues.

(Also available in French and Spanish)

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