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World Summit on Sustainable Development, South Africa 2002


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Looking Forward to Rio+10: Reporting Progress on Land and Agriculture

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Message 15

 Date: Monday, March 12, 2001 6:03 AM

Dear Friends, I read the document sent to me called "The Place of
Agriculture in Sustainable Development: the way forward on SARD".

I have the following specific and general comments to share:

Specific comments:

a) it is said that now SARD is moving toward sustainability, but when
described it still appears to remain under sustainable development;
b) land sustainability appears to be equated to SARD sustainability;
c) the goals of SARD are mainly the alleviation of rural poverty and
reduction of environmental degradation while the role of FAO is on
production, distribution, and the delivery of food, the goals of SARD and
the role of FAO appear to complement each other, but since both of them are
on the supply side of agriculture they may lift up poor producers in rural
areas, but not poor consumers in rural areas, specially that it is said that
increased productivity is accompanied by less workers in the agricultural
d) given that as mentioned in this document, developed countries do not have
the problem of rural poverty and hunger and no longer have, as compared to
developing countries, key ecosystems to maintain, then the SARD efforts and
the FAO efforts appear to be relevant to less developing country's problems
e) since these problems are seen as somebody's else problems, perhaps this
explains why ODA funding is speedily declining and since the countries with
more rural poverty and hunger usually are the ones more unstable, those are
the ones who get less or no DFI funding; 
f) for countries without the problems of rural poverty and hunger, the SARD
appear to be an added bonus to apparently already established comparative
g) and the situation above, appears to work out a cycle in which the
problems of the poor countries become the drivers of increasing poverty and
environmental degradation for them as they try to dig themselves out of an
apparent black hole, the more they strive to get out, the more they appear
to be sinking, as the report indicates that both poverty and degradation
continue to increased after 10 years of development efforts to reverse those

General comments
a) before Rio, the FAO had the same role, but without the clear SARD goals;
b) after Rio, the FAO by taking the SARD goals to promote it became
"environmentally friendly", but this environmentally friendliness was never
directly linked to the social goals (alleviation of poverty and food
security) that were stated;
c) the different reports I read indicate that the poverty situation is
worse, which means that food insecurity is worse;
d) I am surprise to see that he World Bank has no formal role with SARD when
it is the institution responsible to eradicate poverty, including rural
poverty I think;
e) from my point of view, the SARD is dealing with poor producers and poor
consumers, including poor consumers in rural areas;
f) since there is poverty within SARD, then the World Bank should channel
funds through SARD to stabilize it and coordinate efforts with FAO formally;
g) this way we are dealing with both the supply side and the demand side of
SARD at the same time putting local consumers in better footing as compared
to non-local consumers.

Things to consider:
a) not only the limited effective demand of the weak (the poor farmer, the
poor country, ...) is a problem affecting access to technology, but also the
fact that the rich(corporations, rich countries, ...) always have the first
crack to newly developed technology is a problem;
b) better technologies/more agricultural productivity should be expected to
increase deforested area pressures on remaining forested areas (conversion
pressures); should be expected to increase the rich pressures on the poor;
and should be expected to increase developed country pressures on less
develop countries simply because under unequal footing the distribution of
technology/agricultural productivity is based on how big your foot is: free
technology is only useful to those who have land where to apply it, which is
not the majority, and paid technology is only useful to those who can afford
it, which is the minority;
c) better technology/more agricultural productivity under intensified
globalization should be expected to increase the pressures of the strong on
the weak, and one way is steeper verticalization;
d) this is the scenario from my point of view that the SARD program and FAO
is facing right now.

Again, these are my personal comments and my apologies for its length.  It
will be interesting to see the views of others on the same issues.

Sincerely yours,
Lucio Munoz 

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