Agriculture, Land and Rural DevelopmentFAOCSDUNEP
World Summit on Sustainable Development, South Africa 2002


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Dear SARD Forum E-Colleagues,

As your E-Team, we extend a warm welcome to you. We look to you for your insights and experiences in the coming weeks to make the SARD E-Forum a worthwhile and successful event leading up to the World Summit on Sustainable Development. We would like to use this opportunity to provide some background information including the purpose, overall agenda, and details about the logistics of the SARD E-Forum.

What is the purpose of the SARD E-Forum?
The SARD E-Forum seeks to engage a broad range of stakeholders to advance dialogue on critical topics to Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development which lead to enabling participation in rural development programmes, policies and decision making thus ensuring multi-stakeholder involvement. The E-Forum provides a space to invite, explore and develop SARD implementation initiatives related to Access to Resources; SARD Good Practices, Principles, and Case Studies; and Fair Conditions for Employment in Agriculture.

Why these three themes?
During CSD-8 in 2000 and the Committee on Agriculture (COAG) in 2001, multistakeholder dialogues have identified priority areas of significant concern and opportunity to reduce poverty and food insecurity through sustainable agriculture and rural development. The themes of access to resources; SARD good practices, principles, and case studies; and fair conditions for employment in agriculture were identified as priority areas that required additional attention in order to move the global dialogue forward. More information on the development of these thematic areas as they relate to planned outcomes for WSSD will be forwarded to you in summary form and with sources for additional background documents.

How are we defining Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development?
For the purpose of this dialogue, let’s look at two complementary definitions. FAO defines SARD as a process which meets the following criteria:

  • Ensures that the basic nutritional requirements of present and future generations, qualitatively and quantitatively, are met while providing a number of other agricultural products.
  • Provides durable employment, sufficient income, and decent living and working conditions for all those engaged in agricultural production.
  • Maintains and, where possible, enhances the productive capacity of the natural resource base as a whole, and the regenerative capacity of renewable resources, without disrupting the functioning of basic ecological cycles and natural balances, destroying the socio-cultural attributes of rural communities, or causing contamination of the environment.
  • Reduces the vulnerability of the agricultural sector to adverse natural and socio-economic factors and other risks, and strengthens self-reliance.

Further, the NGO Treaty on Sustainable Agriculture in Rio de Janeiro defines sustainable agriculture as a model of social and economic organization based on an equitable and participatory vision of development that recognizes the environment and natural resources as the foundation of economic activity. Agriculture is sustainable when it is ecologically sound, economically viable, socially just, culturally appropriate, human and based on a holistic scientific approach.

Who will participate in the SARD E-Forum?
The E-Forum is open to all and dependent on enlisting broad perspectives on the discussion topics. We hope to have the widest possible participation of stakeholder representatives from NGOs, Agricultural Workers and Trade Unions, Farmers, Fisherfolk, Peasants, Youth, Women, Indigenous People, Local Authorities, Business and Industry, Science and Technology, Consumers, Media and other relevant networks and social movements along with Governments and Intergovernmental Organizations.

How will the SARD E-Forum work?
The electronic discussions will be based out of this web site.

The SARD E-FORUM will also use a web based message system for active discussion of the three thematic areas. Your moderators will post relevant documents and provide initial questions within each theme for the development of topical threads upon which to build the discussion on the web site. Participants can register for one or more thematic discussions on the web. The SARD E-Forum will also use the global listserv (SARD-EFORUM-L) for communications and information exchange across all thematic areas. On the listserv questions will be posed for each thematic area as well as summaries of the intensive sessions. For those who do not have easy access to the web, interventions posted to the global listserv will be incorporated into web based discussions and subsequent summaries. You will receive the introductory messages and questions for the first intensive for each thematic area on this listserv.

To enter the web based discussion, please click here to enter the discussions.

[An additional note from the Moderators on the format: We realize that using web based and e-mail communications does not encourage the participation of individuals and groups that do not have access to electronic media. We regret this and are looking for mechanisms to enhance discussion beyond the electronic arena. Until then, we ask that if you have the capacity to share this discussion with those who do not have access to email, it will be greatly appreciated. ]

What is the timeline for the discussion?
These discussions will take place between 24 June and 17 August 2002. Given that fact that most participants have very busy schedules, we will be using specific dates for “intensive discussions”. Please mark your calendar for the following dates and effective involvement:

  • Access to Resources will begin with a discussion on Access to Land from June 26 to July 3. Additional intensives topics related to Access to Resources will be announced soon.
  • Good Practices for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development and Fair Employment for Agricultural Workers will take place during four parallel intensive periods. These are:
    July 2 - 4, 2002
    July 16 - 18, 2002
    July 30 - August 1, 2002
    August 7- 8, 2002

Who are some of the individuals behind the E-Forum Team?
The E-Forum will be "facilitated" by representatives of Major Groups and FAO including theme coordinators, discussion guides, reporters, and members of the SARD support desk. Others will be added as needed. At this time the E-Forum Team includes: Oumara Amuko (IUF); Alexandra Aquino-Fike (FAO); Bryan Ashe (IPSA); Eve Crowley (FAO); Jing DelaRosa (Popular Coalition); John Dixon (FAO); Zarina Douglas (FAO); Linda Elswick (IPSA); Paul Munro-Faure (FAO); Boyd Haight (FAO); Ann Herbert (ILO); Peter Hurst (IUF); Bruce Moore (Popular Coalition); Yayha Msangi (IUF); Constance Neely (SANREM/FAO); Roopa Rajah (FAO); Andrew Speedy (FAO); and Thijs Wissink (FAO).
Thomas Forster (IPSA) and Constance Neely (SANREM/FAO) will serve as moderators.

Additional notes on logistics:

  • Language: The E-Forum will be based in English, however, interventions can be made in other languages and will be posted in the language in which they are submitted.
  • Registration:If you have not yet sent your registration information, we ask that you please do so. Just send an email to with the following information:
    Your Name:
    Your Organization/Institution:
    The Type of Organization:
    Email address
    Web address if applicable

You will soon be receiving emails with specific information about the substantive dialogue. Please stay tuned and thank you for your interest and participation in the SARD E-Forum.

Our best wishes,
The E-Team

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