Contents - Previous - Next

Conclusions and future out look

A framework for action
FAO contributions and follow-up to UNCED

A framework for action

FAO HAS LONG BEEN CONCERNED with the varied and interconnected components of what is now defined as sustainable development. In accordance with its mandate, the Organization has included among its functions the conservation of natural resources and the adoption of improved methods of agricultural production. Moreover, the objectives set out in the preamble to FAO's Constitution, "raising levels of nutrition and standards of living", "securing improvements in the efficiency of the production and distribution of all food and agricultural products" and "bettering the conditions of rural populations", constitute major contributions to sustainable development.

As problems have evolved and pressure on the natural resource base has increased, experience from field projects and the Regular Programme has enabled the Organization to adapt its activities in a way that makes them particularly responsive to environmental problems and people's needs. In the years to come, FAO will link its Regular Programme and its field activities ever more closely.

In implementing a strategy for sustainable agriculture and rural development within a common programme framework, five major areas emerge:

- sector policy assistance;

- people's participation and human resource development;

- integrated production system management and diversification of rural incomes;

- sustainable use of basic natural resources; and

- safe and sustainable use of key agricultural inputs.

Sector policy assistance currently includes three components which have to be closely related:

- policy assistance involving sector and sub-sector policy reviews and analyses, advice and assistance in incorporating environment and sustainable development in mainstream policy and planning, and national capacity building;

- comprehensive food security programming under FSAS; and

- on-going work in the WCARRD follow-up at policy level.

People's participation and human resource development are central to sustainable agriculture and rural development. Activities under this heading include projects and programmes related to environmental education, training and extension; farming systems development; institution building; the promotion of people's participation; support to group actions, cooperatives and NGOs, including the development support communication projects; and the Plan of Action on Women in Development.

Integrated production system management and diversification of rural incomes form the third central thrust for sustainable agriculture. They include programmes and projects to support integration and increased production of traditional food crops, livestock and wildlife; the diversification of incomes from other non-agriculture activities such as fisheries (e.g. aquaculture), forestry and agroforestry; projects to develop processing industries and agro-allied industries in rural areas as sources of non-farm employment; and projects to improve integrated farm management, marketing systems and credit.

Sustainable use of basic natural resources calls for the provision of specialized support to policy formulation and planning, local community development programmes and integrated production systems management and diversification programmes. These include:

- projects related to land resources, including land resource assessment, land-use planning and land zoning, conservation, rehabilitation and management (for example, the Programme for the Conservation and Rehabilitation of African Lands);

- projects related to the use of water for sustainable agriculture (a programme has already been formulated in support of the implementation of the Mar del Plata Action Plan); and

- projects related to the conservation and use of biological diversity in agriculture and the conservation of plant genetic resources in cooperation with IBPGR and animal genetic resources.

Safe and sustainable use of key agricultural inputs is the other major area where services are needed in support of sector policy review, local community development and integrated production system management. Three major components are included:

- regional and national projects on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and in support of the implementation of the Code of Conduct on the Distribution and Use of Pesticides;

- projects on Integrated Plant Nutrition Systems (IPNS) which encompass those of the on-going Fertilizer Programme and related projects (for example biological nitrogen fixation); and

- projects on energy for rural development.

These activities are being incorporated into an International Cooperative Programme Framework for Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (ICPF/SARD) which the 1991 FAO Conference decided to launch as a means of streamlining and rationalizing further a number of FAO field programmes and projects and related support activities of its Regular Programme (see page 22). Parallel efforts are being made in the fields of forestry and fisheries with a view to focusing better the FAO action on sustainable development objectives.

FAO contributions and follow-up to UNCED

WHILE PLACING AN INCREASED FOCUS and streamlining its programmes toward sustainable development, FAO has played a major role in the preparation of the UN Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED, Rio de Janeiro, 3-14 June 1992). It cooperated closely with the UNCED Secretariat for the preparation of a wide range of basic documents and proposals for UNCED Agenda 21 by providing background material and data. It participated in UNCED inter-agency task forces on land degradation, sustainable agriculture, forests, biodiversity, fresh waters, oceans, toxic chemicals and poverty and provided technical advice prior to and during the four successive meetings of the UNCED Preparatory Committee.

In line with the recommendations of the governing bodies which requested FAO to participate actively in UNCED, promoting the interests of the food, agriculture, forestry and fishery sectors, FAO convened a series of meetings at intergovernmental level with a view to assisting the ministries concerned in its Member Nations in formulating their priorities and positions on a number of topics addressed by UNCED. These meetings included inter alia:

- those of the Technical Committees of FAO (Committee on Agriculture, Committee on Forestry, Committee on Fisheries), FAO Council and Conference. which in 1990 and 1991 included the preparations for UNCED on their agenda;

- the FAO/Netherlands Conference on Agriculture and the Environment (den Bosch, 15-19 April 1991);

- two Intergovernmental Conferences on Sustainable Development and Environment in Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, one for small island countries held in Bridgetown, Barbados, (7-10 April 1992) and another for Latin American and Caribbean countries held in Santiago, Chile (27-30 April 1992).

By participating actively in the preparation of UNCED and constantly streamlining its own programmes FAO could ensure a fairly large degree of congruence between its future programmes and those proposed in the UNCED Agenda 21 in the sectors of its competence. Thus, FAO has prepared itself to act as a major partner in the UN System for the UNCED follow-up.

Contents - Previous - Next