Integrated Planning and Management of Land ResourcesFAOCSDUNEP
World Summit on Sustainable Development, South Africa 2002


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

Record of Contributions

Message 21

        Message 21 - Summary, Week 1 Comments
        Wed, 14 Mar 2001 18:12:24 +0100

Dear Colleagues,

We are very grateful to those of you who sent contributions for Week 1.
This message contains a summary of 10 interventions in response to the first
set of questions.  Each message that was contributed can be viewed in full
by going to the E-Conference web site and looking at the Record of




Several participants pointed out that in most cases we have clearly not seen
the anticipated results of efforts to date. Altieri states, "despite
increases in food production the developing world faces major food
insecurity challenges. This insecurity is linked to massive poverty, mal
distribution of land, and the pressures of globalization that emphasize agro
exports away from basic food crops. Small farmers keep being bypassed by
modern agricultural advances. More than 370 million poor people live in
marginal environments for which modern science does not offer any viable
option."  He adds, "trends however now fueled by biotechnology are enhancing
monocultures and leading to a further industrialization of agriculture."

Munoz says the background documents "provide evidence that the policies
originally followed to address poverty and environmental degradation led to
increased poverty and increased environmental degradation." Subsequently
globalization has intensified these problems. He asks, "Have we failed the
goals of Rio so far?"

Based on the fact that issues of poverty (particularly the rural poor) are
complex, Lewis notes that in research efforts for rural economic and
environmental development, there appear to be "built in" weaknesses or
"reasons to expect failure" in the programs during the past 50 or more
years.  He sees the reasons as "short term goals; lack of adequate funding;
failure to use inclusive programs which bring into the planning and
implementation the rural poor; perhaps even too close ties with large
agro-business; lack of sensitivity to local conditions; failure to provide
for education and support; failure to provide sufficient infrastructural
support; and lack of political resolve." He notes, "Of course, the list
could be longer."


Altieri takes the discussion toward solution stating, "there are many
examples of farmer-led and NGO led agroecological initiatives that have
resulted in enhanced food security and environmental conservation
regeneration. He calls for an operational definition of Sustainable
Agriculture that gives priority to the urban and rural poor and emerging
from the grassroots and not from the international organizations.  He
states, "food must be produced where the poor are concentrated, and with
methods that are based on local resources, using both traditional and modern
agroecological knowledge systems. Technologies for the poor must be
developed in a participatory way, must be risk averting, cheap and
accessible, adapted to marginal areas and health and environment enhancing.
Any other technological development that does not meet such requirements,
regardless of the promises (i.e as the highly publicized biotechnology) will
not yield the desired impacts." Altieri provided his web site and additionally the web site of a
special issue of the Journal of Environment, Development and Sustainability,
Volume 1 3/4 1999, ( highlighting several successful
case studies where agroeological interventions resulted in enhanced food
security and environmental conservation/regeneration among small farmers
throughout the developing world. 

In looking toward solution Lewis asks consideration of the several
questions: "(1) should we not consider the complexity of the problems with
respect to endemic rural poverty and stretch our efforts to both identify
and implement programs which would be an integrated solutions based
approach; (2) would not such approach provide the greatest potential for
achieving the across the board improvements required to secure real
sustainable development; (3) under a best practices format, is it not better
to consider the consolidation of human-group resources at the rural level
rather than focusing on individual humans; (4) can NGO or non-profit
activities meet the long term sustainability issues which require address
when so much of their time and effort is necessitated in their raising of
funds through donation and contribution?"

Dubowski states that Poland is just before a huge transformation process in
the agricultural sector. The agriculture problems are well placed relative
to all categories raised in Question 1. He resolves that an education
process of rural society is needed to show how environmental issues are
important for the nation as well for other (European) countries.
Additionally, he says, "we need to find a way how government and
administration official's promises could be changed into real funds and well
controlled actions."  Additionally, he provided an example specifically
related to the need for modernization of agricultural transport in Poland.
He notes that by removing agricultural tractors from road transportation, it
will "improve work and road safety, efficiency of transportation, decrease
transportation losses, improve environment (less vibrations, fumes, oils
spillages etc) and save energy resources up to 75K tonnes of fuel per one
year. It can have impact on decreasing unemployment rate in rural areas."

Agreeing with Altieri, Lewis says, "the challenge is to increase the
investment and research into this strategy, and to scale-up projects that
have already proven successful, thereby generating a meaningful impact in
the income, food security and environmental integrity of the world's
population, and especially the millions of poor farmers yet untouched by
modern agricultural technology.  In addition, participatory, farmer-friendly
methods of technology development must be incorporated, ensuring that women,
men, elders, and marginalized poor farmers or labor groups are included in
development of alternatives. If we fail to seize this opportunity, the
existing cases will remain as "islands of success" in a sea of deprivation,
merely living testimonies of the potential of the "path not taken" to feed
the rural poor.  On the other hand, if we go forward to widely support and
develop an agro-ecological approach, humanity can benefit from its potential
to address the inequity, hunger and environmental degradation that so often
accompany high-input, energy intensive, corporate-style agriculture." 


Seck provides an example from Senegal. Since the start of implementing a
Structural Adjustment Programme and with the progressive 'disengagement' of
State agencies, peasant organizations have taken a much more active role in
local development.  Seck writes that the Senegalese farmers now find
themselves in a comparatively favourable position to participate directly in
governance and rural affairs.

In 1993, with the support of FAO, the FONGS  (Senegalese Federation of NGOs)
organized a national forum of the peasant movement that created the National
Council of Rural Consultation and Cooperation (the "CNCR"). The Council
takes part in negotiations related to agriculture and strategic planning for
investment and development projects.  Technical capacity building and
operational analysis of Farmers' Organizations began in 1997 related to
farming and nutrition based on sustainable agriculture A number of studies
have been produced to show the consequences of the WTO and the Uruguay Round
and other agreements on Senegal.  There have been case studies specifically
on rice production in Senegal and international trade, financing sources for
the rural world and the prospects for peasant organizations, and women in
sustainable agriculture and the impacts of the WTO.  Groups including
representatives from Government Agencies, FAO, agricultural research
institutions, the national council for agriculture and rural areas,
agricultural schools, the Centre for Ecological Monitoring (Dakar), the
association of rural community leaders, bilateral cooperation offices,
Senegalese and European NGOs, and farmers' organizations from West Africa
have come together to review the results of the project.

Lessons arising from the project have contributed to enhanced confidence and
quality of dialogue between peasant organizations, the Government and FAO
for agriculture and rural development. The project has set a precedent for
other countries. The project has reinforced the role of the CNCR of the
FONGS and NGOs have increased their negotiation capacities. The project has
been a benchmark for the Ministry of Agriculture of Senegal, as it engages
in a decentralization process and restructuring of agricultural services.
For FAO, it has provided effective technical assistance to actors in Civil
Society and has opened the doors for collaborating with this new category of
partners and providing better services to farmers. The project has relied on
the expertise of consultants coming from NGOs to provide technical
assistance to the peasant organizations.

Repetti working on land-use management in developing cities provides an
example to focus attention on social and institutional aspects and
participation of multiple actors of the development. In this example, he
says that "the political will is a consequence of the civil society
strengthening, and the technical solutions to environment management have
found good conditions." He notes that if all the proposed trends are
inter-linked and from his experience the social, cultural and institutional
issues are major points for the application of the technological and
political solutions to problems.  The example comes from the city of Thies,
Senegal (population of 100'000) which is currently experiencing a 4% growth
rate per year and a subsequent large extension of the urbanized zone, upon
the agricultural land and the rural villages.  NGOs such as ENDA TW (1) have
been working there for some time and there is now the existence of a
structured civil society, active in the city districts and in the villages
next to the urbanized zone. Three years ago, the city administration
contacted ENDA and the EPFL to help them solve their problems of resources
management (land, water, soils) and to propose a new land-use plan. The plan
was taken up in partnership between the City, the associations of the civil
society and the villages (about 40) next to the city. After two years of
negotiation the social, cultural and institutional conditions were
favorable. Now they are experimenting with a participative land-use
planning, integrated with resources management (2). The funding of the
seminars, data acquisition, etc is from the city budget. And the conditions
are favorable to technical tools, based on GIS and information technologies.
We are proposing an instrument panel, based on sustainability indicators for
the following up of the development of the region, allowing the top-down and
the bottom-up communication. We are using it to establish the land-use
planning of the region, integrated with resources management. 
(2) funding Swiss development and cooperation SDC

Lewis asks, "where are solutions" offered or presented?" He provides some
insights from the Reed Program where they "have worked towards the
development of a "culturally sensitive" program for rural economic and
environmental development and invites us "visit
  whereat they present an integrated solutions
based catalyst of activities and programs for attacking both the systemic
conditions of rural poverty, the needs for improved and increased food
production, the requirements for empowering all peoples and programs for
environmental protection and restoration." The program identifies,
integrates, and optimizes the best tools, practices, and forms of
organization for successful and sustainable development.  They strongly
encourage the participation of villagers and support the formation of
cooperatives and mutual associations.  The Reed Program is now planning the
development of a four-hectare farm model in Vietnam using high-performance,
sustainable technology and management practices.  


Altieri writes, "it is time that the UN provides the political support for
an alternative agricultural development approach, engaging in a real
partnership with NGOs, farmers organizations, environmental groups and
consumer groups in the search for a more socially just and economically
viable agriculture. The urgency of the task demands for the utilization of
public funds to embark in a major effort up scaling the various successful
but localized examples of sustainable agriculture around the developing
world." He suggests an alternative institutional framework where FAO serves
as a "catalyst distributing funds to those organizations including NGOs and
farmers organizations committed to delivering solutions".  Altieri states,
"we cannot afford continuing to bet solely on an international agricultural
research system  (CGIAR and GFAR) that has not delivered what is needed
despite the millions of dollars that are spent in the name of agricultural
research and development."  Rather he asks that resources be mobilized to
"immediately to promote what is really working out there."

Munoz showed surprise at the fact that the "World Bank has no formal role
with SARD when it is the institution responsible to eradicate poverty,
including rural poverty." He says, "SARD is dealing with poor producers and
poor consumers, including poor consumers in rural areas"; and that "since
there is poverty within SARD, then the World Bank should channel funds
through SARD to stabilize it and coordinate efforts with FAO formally; 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."

Dubowski adds, "Government should find way not to decrease numbers of R&D
institutes, it should work out proper funds and projects, international
cooperation - to intensified R&D works in agricultural sector on e.g.
sustainable growth." 

Lewis, writing later and drawing on the Rural Poverty Report (IFAD, 2001),
states, "effective poverty reduction requires resources to be allocated to
the rural and the poor.  Still, reviving agriculture is not the whole, but
only part of the answer to end rural poverty. Agricultural change can work
to reduce poverty, but only when linked to social changes that give the poor
power over the social factors that shape, and far too often circumscribe,
the horizons of their possibilities, including their agricultural options
and assets."


Munoz sees a systematic delinking of the goals (poverty and environmental
degradation) that were set out 10 years a go and the instruments and
processes chosen to achieve the goals. "Eco-economic partnerships can not be
the solution in the long term as implied here if they leave out social
concerns (the majority)." He goes on to say that the "report indicates that
while poverty increased and environmental degradation increased, production
increased, standard of living in industrial/urban areas increased, awareness
and NGO movements increased, government and international research networks
increased, economic development over all increased, free trade increased,
infrastructure improvements have increased, vertical integration has
increased, privatization has increased, and decentralization has increased."
In summary he says, "It looks like the better we do in all the fronts above,
the more poverty and environmental degradation we are generating.  And the
report suggest that the way out of this poverty and environmental cycle is
to still improve still more those areas/tools/technologies that appear to be
leading to the problem we are trying to address."  Munoz suggests a closer
look be taken at the issues, "otherwise, we may find out during RIO-20 that
poverty and environmental degradation are still worse."


Among the strategies outlined in the paper, Munoz reiterates that 10 years
later, "the priorities of Rio 10 are the same as those of Rio just more
intensified and that it is recommended more money and commitment go into
apparently the same tools/technologies/processes used before with some
improvements, which vary from local to non-local technologies based now on a
framework of intensified globalization."  Finding these point contradictory,
he asks "should not be wise to start exploring other possible venues to make
the strategies/tools/technologies used and to be used a little more poverty
and environmentally friendly?" He suggests that we find ways to: a) directly
link and fit these tools/technologies/processes to the goals we are aiming
at; b) when poverty and environmental degradation falls the positive
externalities can be easily measured and assessed; and c) for doing this, we
need to realize, I think, that land sustainability and agricultural
sustainability is more than integrating components and subcomponents of a


Curtis disagreed "both personally and professionally" with paragraphs 11 and
12 of section 2 of the paper.

"11.   ... Productivity can only improve with the introduction of updated
technologies, including the use of machines, improved plant and animal stock
or varieties, better crop and post-harvest care and, importantly, higher
investment and access to water."

He writes that "the central ethos behind this statement is 'not' sustainable
development; it is profit maximization that ignores the environmental and
social implications of SD."  The key to my thoughts on this is the knowledge
that food 'production' is not at the root cause of famine in places such as
Africa (for instance).  It is a problem of distribution, and of demographics
- there is ample food already - it is just in the wrong place. The 'use of
machines' entails the increased use of fossil fuels, improved plant and
animal stock probably entails GMO, higher investment and access to water
almost certainly involves ill considered irrigation projects. It is vital
that we understand that the reason why SD has not been embraced
wholeheartedly by the corporate, political or environmental groups is that
corporations -despite any protestations to the contrary are only concerned
with the 'bottom line', all CEO's have one eye on the next shareholder
meeting ... all politicians (and this is not offensive) are only interested
in projects which will mature just in time for the next election ... and
environmentalists usually view the economic aspects of SD as the ultimate

Para "12. This, combined with trade and technological developments, can
lower the cost of trading and permit an agricultural surplus to be

In a nutshell this statement does not fulfill either the social,
environmental or economic criteria for SD.  It is solely about profit
margins, reducing costs, increasing production.

Munoz adds, "1) 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, especially that it is said
that increased productivity is accompanied by less workers in the
agricultural sector;" 

He also sees that since developed countries experience less rural poverty
and hunger there is the issue of it being "somebody's else problems" and
concludes,  "perhaps this explains why ODA funding is speedily declining". 

Munoz adds that "before Rio, the FAO had the same role, but without the
clear SARD goals and 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." 

Finally, he asks the group to consider that richer corporations have the
greater benefit of technology "however 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." In short,
"intensified globalization should be expected to increase the pressures of
the strong on the weak, and one way is steeper verticalization."


Given the depth and detail of these contributions, we are looking forward
your further further interventions over the next two weeks!

With best wishes,

The Moderators

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