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World Summit on Sustainable Development, South Africa 2002

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The Development of SARD

The concept of Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) was one of a number of concepts that crystallised during the 1980s. SARD as a paradigm developed in response to the growing realisation that national and international agricultural policies and programmes should encompass a wide range of economic, environmental and socio-cultural issues in addition to the traditional areas of agricultural productivity, production and food security. The importance of the SARD concept was recognised and confirmed at the Rio Earth Summit (UNCED) in 1992, with Chapter 14 of Agenda 21 setting out the programmes and specific actions needed to promote sustainable agriculture and rural development, and Member Nations committing themselves to these programmes and actions.

The Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD) was set up after the UNCED Summit in Rio to meet annually at the UN and to follow-up by monitoring and reporting on the implementation of agreements at the local, national, regional and international levels. The CSD is now acting as the Secretariat for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), being held ten years after UNCED. As the main co-ordinating body of the Johannesburg WSSD, it has taken on the role of organising, administering and implementing the Preparatory Committee Meetings (PrepComs) and the WSSD.

SARD since Rio

In the 10 years since Rio when SARD/Chapter 14 of Agenda 21 first outlined specific programs and actions to increase food production in a sustainable way and enhance food security, the concept of SARD has evolved to include social, institutional and economic sustainability, as well as environmental sustainability. It has also become evident that there is no blueprint approach to the implementation of SARD (See the document presented and discussed at the 16th Session of the Committee on Agriculture, "The Place of Agriculture in Sustainable Development: The Way Forward on SARD.") In this period, three key areas that were identified for intervention consisted of building capacities and strengthening institutions, mobilising investment, and developing technologies and policies for enhancing agricultural productivity and managing the environment. However, some FAO Members found this analysis incomplete.

To learn more about Sustainable Development and SARD in general, please visit FAOís Sustainable Development Department homepage and the UNís Sustainable Development site.

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