Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

World Conference on Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems bodes well for the future of FAO´s GIAHS programme

20 July 2022

Qingtian, China

The World Conference on Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems was held in Qingtian, Zheijang Province in China from 17 to 19 July 2022. The topic of the conference focused on Agricultural Heritage for Rural Prosperity.

The conference invited more than 200 participants from 31 countries and international organizations, related ministries, departments, bureaus and directly affiliated units, agricultural departments of some provinces and cities, governments of GIAHS sites, private sectors and scientific research institutions to acknowledge and discuss the importance of safeguarding agricultural heritage systems to ensure livelihood and food security for rural communities.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Globally Important Agricultural Heritage (GIAHS) program. Since its launch in 2002, FAO has designated 67 sites in 22 countries, among which 18 sites are located in China. FAO´s Deputy Director Mrs Maria Elena Semedo said that the FAO´s GIAHS programme “has proven its potential as a model of sustainable agriculture through its remarkable agro-ecological approach (…). It is a way to revitalize rural communities and promote rural development by utilizing their unique features embedded in the agricultural systems."

China´s President, Xi Jinping, sent a congratulatory letter to the conference by underlining “the importance of protecting agricultural heritage systems.” He continued “China will work along with the international community to jointly enhance agricultural heritage protection, and further explore its economic, social, cultural, ecological and scientific and technological value in order to help secure the UN's sustainable development goals and advance the building of a community with a shared future for mankind.”

Carlos Watson, FAO Representative to China, stated during the World Conference that “China has the ability to recognize that GIAHS is a very beneficial initiative not only to preserve agricultural heritage but being future-oriented at the same time and being a mean for providing a better life.”

Overall, the World Conference was a huge success for the GIAHS initiative. Tang Renjian, China's Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, acknowledged the importance of global cooperation mechanisms and united action in preserving our agricultural heritage. Out of the discussions resulted that China jointly with FAO, found the consensus to launch the second phase of GIAHS support programme by the Chinese government, namely, a $3 million programme to provide capacity building and training sessions to people working in GIAHS sites. With the support of FAO, China will promote the establishment of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Reference Center on the Conservation and Development of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS), promote multi-level training and exchanges among various parties, and jointly enhance the capacity of agricultural cultural heritage protection.

In October 2022, FAO´s GIAHS programme is planning to invite GIAHS sites from around the world to celebrate its 20th anniversary to acknowledge the successful activities undertaken throughout the past 20 years and to create a new momentum moving ahead in safeguarding mankind´s agricultural heritage.


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