Sistemas Importantes del Patrimonio Agrícola Mundial (SIPAM)

Fostering East Asian Research on Agricultural Heritage Systems

Sado, Japan, 16 July 2015

On 23-25 June, the “Second Conference for East Asia Researh Assoociation for Agricultural Heritage Systems (ERAHS)” was successfully held in Sado City, Niigata Prefecture. 

The East Asia Research Association for Agricultural Heritage Systems (ERAHS) for research cooperation on agricultural heritage systems among China, Japan and Korea supported by United Nations University (UNU) was formally established in October 2013. ERAHS aims to contribute the sustainability of agricultural heritage systems in East Asia and also to the development of the FAO’s Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS). The First ERAHS Conference was held in Xinghua City, Jiangsu Province, China on 7 -11 April, 2014.

This Second ERAHS conference was organized by ERAHS and Sado city, co-organized by FAO, UNU, Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS-IGSNRR), Korea Rural Heritage Association (KRHA), Japanese GIAHS Network (J-GIAHS), Niigata Prefecture, and supported by Japan Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).

Mr Motonari Kai, mayor of Sado City which is one of Japan’s first GIAHS site, warmly welcomed the 150 conference participants including 60 foreign researchers and academics from China, Korea and the Philippines, and local participants of policy makers, municipal government officials and other professionals, whom actively shared on scientific research and best practices relating to conservation of agricultural heritage systems in East Asia.

In the keynote speech, Dr Charles M. Boliko, Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Liaison Office in Japan, emphasized the significance of traditional agriculture in contributing to sustainable development in agriculture, calling for the dynamic conservation of such invaluable traditional agricultural heritage systems through FAO’s GIAHS for future generations. Dr Boliko also took the opportunity to update on the current developments of GIAHS and its future directions, informing that GIAHS is now part of the FAO Corporate Programme following the decisions of 39th FAO conference and that more and more countries are supporting the expansion of GIAHS network for sustainable development of agriculture.

On the same note, Professor Kazuhiko Takeuchi, Senior Vice-Rector of United Nations University (UNU) also explained the important role that agriculture could play in meeting the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which are to be accepted by the United Nations in coming September. He encouraged that the oriental view of nature of "coexistence" shared by East Asian countries could be further explored to promote sustainable development in agriculture and also proposed a new mechanism of multi-layered, nested governance approach to holistically manage natural resources.

The Conference, which aimed to promote cooperation and exchange of research related to agricultural heritage systems and conservation of GIAHS amongst East Asian countries, discussed a wide range of issues over 28 keynote and research presentations, as well as poster exhibitions from about 15 organizations held over two days of meeting. The panel session themed “Rural Revitalization in Marginal Area: Biodiversity and Traditional Agriculture”, moderated by Liang Luohui, Programme Coordinator (UNU) and participated by expert panelists including Dr Charles M. Boliko (FAO), Professor Min Qingwen (China), Professor Kim Sun-Joo (Korea), Professor Koji Nakamura (Japan), Mr Koichiro Takano (Sado city), and Nagata Akira, Senior Programme Coordinator(UNU), also saw an active and candid exchange of views with the floor on the potential and challenges of conserving biodiversity and traditional agriculture for sustainable socio-economic development of rural communities.

The participants also participated in a one day field study themed “the three world-class heritages of Sado island (Global Geopark, GIAHS and World Cultural Heritage)” where they visited Futami Peninsula, the rice terraces of Ogura Senmaida, the modern industrial heritage site of Sado gold and silver mines, watched Takigi Noh theatrical play and participated in biodiversity survey of the rice paddies of Sado’s Japanese Crested Ibis Brand Rice Certification. The lucky participants who chanced upon the several Japanese Crested Ibis in the wild were enthralled by their beauty and the rich diversity of life on Sado Island sustained by its agriculture.

The Conference ended with a working meeting on the last day, and Republic Korea assumed the role of ERAHS Secretariat for the Third ERAHS Conference to take place in Guemsan, Republic of Korea on June 2016.

For more details on the Second ERAHS Conference, please contact Ms Evonne Yiu, Research Associate (UNU) at [email protected]