The first Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 represented a turning point in the way we look at environment and development. World leaders adopted Agenda 21, a blue print to attain sustainable development in the 21st century. Agenda 21 provides a comprehensive action programme to attain sustainable development and address both environmental and developmental issues in an integrated manner at global, national and local levels.
FAO is task manager for many of the land-related chapters of Agenda 21, chiefly, chapter 10 (Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources), chapter 11 (Combating Deforestation), chapter 13 (Sustainable Mountain Development) and on chapter 14 (Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development: SARD). It is also a major partner in the implementation of several chapters of Agenda 21, notably, chapters 12 (Combating Desertification and Drought), 15 (Biological Diversity), 17 (Oceans and Seas) 18 (Freshwater) and 19 (Toxic Chemicals).
The Eighth Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-8), held in New York from 25 April- 5 May 2000 was a special session for FAO. Land and agriculture were one of the major topics of discussion and FAO prepared the Secretary-General's reports in the areas where it is task manager and has expertise such as on Biotechnology for Sustainable Agriculture, Urbanization and Sustainable Agricultural Development, and Linkage between Agriculture, Land and Water.
One of the major debates at CSD-8 was on preparations for the ten-year review of progress in the implementation of UNCED. In this respect, the Commission's decisions were also endorsed by the UN General Assembly last December which emphasized that Agenda 21 should not be renegotiated, and that the focus at Johannesburg should be on the review of the implementation of Agenda 21. The UN General Assembly also agreed that the Johannesburg summit would be officially called the World Summit for Sustainable Development. It will be held in South Africa in September 2002 at the Heads of State level. The focus of the Summit is to reinvigorate, at the highest political level, the global commitment to North/South partnership in accelerating the implementation of Agenda 21.
FAO is actively involved in contributing to the World Summit for Sustainable Development process and particularly as regards the preparation of documentation for the intergovernmental process. The official documentation will have two parts. Part I is the factual part that will assess the progress achieved, including gaps and deficiencies. FAO has competed the preparation of Part I and submitted them to the CSD Secretariat; the results are posted on this web sites under Agriculture, Land and Rural Development, Deforestation, and Mountains. Part II is the analytical part and will analyize the impact of policies, including strategic approach, institutional arrangements and involvement of major groups. Part II of the report is still under preparation.
FAO looks forward to the World Summit for Sustainable Development as it will provide a unique opportunity to draw to the attention of world leaders some of the key challenges and opportunities the global community faces in the implementation of various chapters of Agenda 21 for which it is a leader and major partner. We trust the result will be consistent with the principles of common but differentiated responsibilities for governments, civil societies and all stakeholders involved in the process. The Sustainable Development has the overall coordinating responsibility for the CSD process and the World Summit for Sustainable Development.
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