Sixteenth Session

Rome, 26-30 March 2001, Red Room



1. Agenda 21 was the centrepiece agreement that emerged from the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), known as the Earth Summit, in 1992. It provides a comprehensive action programme to attain sustainable development and address both environmental and development issues in an integrated manner at global, national and local levels. Although the implementation of Agenda 21 has been below expectations, many countries have formulated national strategies based on Agenda 21 and have taken steps to integrate sustainability issues into their national development policies.

2. FAO, through its normative and operational programme, continues to assist Member Nations in the implementation of Agenda 21 and follow-up of UNCED, and its contribution will be highlighted in selected key areas where FAO is a task manager or major partner.

3. Land and agriculture were among the major topics at the Eighth Session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-8), New York, 25 April- 5 May 2000. FAO played a key role in the preparation of the UN Secretary-General's reports on Chapter 10 (Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources) and Chapter 14 (Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development: SARD) with inputs from many UN agencies, NGOs and various stakeholders. The report on Chapter 10 included several task manager reports, namely on Chapter 11 (Combating Deforestation) and Chapter 13 (Sustainable Mountain Development), for which FAO is also task manager, as well as on Chapter 12 (Combating Desertification and Drought), and Chapter 15 (Conservation of Biological Diversity). The report on Chapter 14 included addenda on Biotechnology for Sustainable Agriculture, Urbanisation and Sustainable Agricultural Development, and Linkage between Agriculture, Land and Water.

4. These reports served as a basis for consultations and discussion during the Ad Hoc Working Group on Land and Agriculture in February 1999 and later at CSD-8 itself and influenced the decisions taken at CSD-8. As regards Chapter 14, SARD, the Commission agreed to entrust the review of the implementation of SARD to FAO, with the involvement of diverse stakeholders, in preparation for Earth Summit 2002 (Rio+10). In line with this decision, efforts are underway to bring wider civil society participation with the 16th Session of the Committee on Agriculture (COAG).1

5. 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 emphasised that Agenda 21 should not be renegotiated, and the focus at Rio+10 should be on the review of the implementation of Agenda 21. FAO is expected to undertake a comprehensive review and assessment of the implementation of chapters for which it is task manager and this effort has been launched.

    1. With regard to Chapter 11 (Combating Deforestation), FAO has continued to give high priority to support implementation of the agreements reached by the Intergovernmental Panel on Forests (IPF) in February 1997 and its successor, the Intergovernmental Forum on Forests (IFF) in February 2000. FAO will support the proposed UN Forum on Forests. The Inter-Agency Task Force on Forests (ITFF), chaired by FAO, promotes a coordinated response by its member organizations to the needs of Member Nations in the implementation of the IPF/IFF proposals for action. FAO is preparing a new Task Manager Report for CSD-10. This will be based on inputs from a wide range of interest groups.
    2. Major tasks with regard to Chapter 13 (Sustainable Mountain Development) include preparation for the International Year of Mountains (IYM) in 2002. In June 2000, FAO in its capacity as lead agency for the IYM, prepared the Secretary-General's Report on the state of preparations for the International Year of Mountains in 2002, which will be presented to the 55th Session of the General Assembly. The report describes activities at national, regional and international levels and gives examples of action taken within selected countries. FAO also launched the official Internet Site for the IYM in July 2000. In September 2000, an official letter with an attached questionnaire was sent to ministries in Member Nations asking for information on national-level initiatives for the IYM, availability of mountain-related databases, and key concerns in mountain regions.
    3. One of the major developments as regards Chapter 17 (Protection of Oceans and Seas) of relevance to COAG, is the UN Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities (GPA). The GPA, coordinated by UNEP, is designed to assist states in taking actions, individually and jointly, which will lead to the protection of marine and coastal environments from pollution and degradation from land-based activities. The programme also calls the relevant international organizations and programmes to take a lead in the development of a "clearing house mechanism" (CHM) for specific categories of pollutants in their areas of competence. In this regard, FAO signed a Memorandum of Understanding with GPA in December 1999, to prepare a website node intended to promote the exchange of information on the impact of nutrient and sediment mobility (which are the two pollutant categories in its competence) and link it to the GPA home page as part of its contributions to the CHM. An understanding is being reached with the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture to exploit their advanced knowledge in radionuclides for erosion tracking. Extra human and financial resources will be required for long-term tracking and generation of data in sediments and nutrients mobility and to adequately develop and maintain this website. UNEP and the Inter-Agency Committee on Sustainable Development (IACSD) have been informed about this constraint. This matter may be brought to the attention of future sessions of COAG for discussion and guidance.
    4. From 1993 to 1996, FAO chaired the ACC/SC on Oceans and Coastal Areas established by IACSD to manage Chapter 17 and played a key role in the part of the Secretary General's Report that dealt with areas of interest to COAG such as integrated coastal areas management (ICAM) and protection of coastal areas from land-based sources of pollution (e.g. soil erosion, pesticides, fertilisers).
    5. With respect to Chapter 24 (Global Action for Women towards Sustainable Development), a High-Level Consultation on Rural Women and Information was held at FAO Headquarters (4-6 October 1999). A Strategy for Action was prepared and reviewed during the Consultation, finalised and published. This was distributed during CSD-8. Elements of the Strategy include: mobilisation of all stakeholders, utilisation of gender-sensitive statistical methodologies, conduct of national surveys to document women's agricultural contribution and establishment of information networks to improve communication channels among rural women. The FAO Conference, at its Thirtieth Session in November 1999, recommended that this strategy form an integral part of the next FAO Gender and Development Plan of Action (2002-2007).

6. FAO is also involved in the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought (CCD), and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). FAO has carried out an assessment of agricultural biodiversity activities at international and regional levels and, in collaboration with the CBD Secretariat, has proposed elements of a programme of work on agricultural biodiversity for consideration at the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice V (SBSTTA) and decision at the 5th Conference of Parties (COP). FAO has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with IFAD, UNEP and the CCD Secretariat to collaborate in various activities in support of the CCD. FAO became a member of the Facilitation Committee and of the Technical Advisory Group of the Global Mechanism of the UNCCD. It is leading the preparation of a global initiative entitled the Dryland Land Degradation Assessment. FAO has taken an active role in activities related to the UNFCCC and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and new position papers have been prepared. An expert meeting was organized on the "Verification of Country-Level Carbon Stocks and Exchanges".


1  See document COAG/01/7 for further details.