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

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Message 23

        Message 23 - Intervention by Brian Lewis, Reply to Questions 3 an d 4
        Wed, 14 Mar 2001 18:14:46 +0100

Dear Colleagues,

The third question presented by the panel creates the opportunity to engage
in the preparation and publication of an extensive treatise while seeking
more probably much briefer reply and assessment.  The "root" causes
certainly date back to the end of WW II and the cold war stand-off, which
enveloped the history of our society since that time.  The ideas of
confrontation through the manipulation of peoples and governments surfaced
through the blockade of Berlin and developed into the food programs
initiated in response and then expanded into other areas of the world.
At the same time the international governments were waging a war for the
stomachs of the hungry through such overt acts as blockades and food
"assistance" programs, the countries of the West undertook further food/land
directed programs via newly formed organizations such as the World Bank, the
UN and others.  Manipulating the authority and funding of these
organizations through policies and intensive lobbying, the Western
governments reinforced the efforts to "win" the support and respect of poor
countries and their citizenry around the world.

Not to be outdone, the Eastern Block powers developed stratagems, which
pushed their interests into the neutral and uncommitted countries and
regions.  Between these two opposing and constantly struggling forces, the
land and the people were pulled and pushed in different directions-without
any real concern for their needs or wants.

Rather than undertaking programs that would have developed the capacity of
these many people to improve their lives and to encourage them to
participate in the growth and development of their countries and of the
world economy. These international forces prevented and precluded the
establishment of such important programs.
Changes were occurring which allowed and permitted opposing governmental
interests to magnify differences and fears-namely in the spread of the mass
media: newspapers, television, radio, cinema; and these same developments,
also created the beginnings of a public awareness of the problems and issues
distant from ones' home.  Following WW II and the Korean Conflict, as well
as the "successful" response to the Berlin Blockade, people in the West
began to see themselves as having an unrestricted ability to solve problems
and cure social ills.  The "Green Revolution" of the 1960s and 1970s was
such a response to the famines and starvation beginning to appear at
dinnertime in front of the eyes of the collective West as they watched the
evening "news."

Of course, the lobbying by suppliers and providers of seeds and fertilizers
made a further contribution to the policies and programs that governments
and organizations such as the World Bank, UN and others have all created and
supported.  The "need" to satisfy "friends" and to support their efforts and
causes of "helping" the disadvantaged and "promoting" the supply of food are
important also for our consideration, acknowledgement, and reflection.

All these causes, and more, are at the root of the problems of soil
degradation, erosion, and depletion.  There are also at the root of the
problems of water contamination, loss and supply.

The acknowledgement that sufficient food is presently produced to prevent
malnutrition and hunger begs the questions of whether this will be true in
the future or not.  The real question of human dignity and participation
remains, for the most part, ignored and unaddressed as we march into this
new century and millennium.   As has been noted in earlier messages posted
to this electronic conference, to "improve" agricultural production, to
provide "secure" land tenure, is only an illusion of what is required; the
real participation of people must be achieved toward constructive solutions
or we can rest assured that their lack of participation towards such goal
will most definitely bring them into open and disastrous conflict with
forces that are aligned to exclude them.  Should such scenario be realized
there is little reason to believe society, as we have come to know it, will

The challenge, to my mind, is rather simple.  We must establish a way in
which we include people, all people, their ideas, their beliefs, their
experience and history.  This "inclusion" requires, indeed it demands, that
we honestly and whole-heartedly seek to enrich and develop all peoples and
societies capacities to care and to recognize the need to work on the
problems and issues for which we collectively must find solutions.

The REED Program (rural economic and environmental development) was
developed to present a catalyst of such opportunity to the ever-expanding
people who are members of the endemic poor of our planet.  What is required
is an integrated solutions based approach that creates, develops and
encourages people to participate; in this way we create the means to address
the issues and problems which we are facing.  We have the technology, we
have the means, what we do not have is the time to waste.

Brian Lewis, The REED Program

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