Daily report for 28 February 2000

CSD 8 Ad Hoc Intersessional Working Groups

The Ad Hoc Intersessional Working Group (AHWG) on Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources & Agriculture was declared open by Choi Seok-young (Republic of Korea), on behalf of CSD-8 Chair, Juan Mayr (Colombia). After the election of Co-Chairs from Ireland and Cuba and the adoption of the agenda, the AHWG heard presentations on the Secretary-General’s Reports, other documentation for the meeting and on a relevant intersessional conference. Finally, four Organizing Partners from major groups preparing for the Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on Sustainable Agriculture at CSD-8 made statements. The meeting adjourned at midday after a request by the G-77/CHINA to provide time for members of the Group to examine documentation and prepare for the week’s discussions.


Choi Seok-young, on behalf of CSD-8 Chair Juan Mayr, introduced the election of officers. The AHWG elected by acclamation, Co-Chairs Patrick McDonnell (Ireland) and Modesto Francisco Fernandez Diaz-Silveira (Cuba). Co-Chair McDonnell invited delegations to consider the adoption of the agenda and other organizational matters (E/CN.17/ISWG.l/2000/l and Corr.1). He reported that the meetings of the AHWG should be recognized as preparatory meetings for CSD-8 and to facilitate the Commission in achieving tangible, action-oriented results on each of the agenda items. To achieve that goal, the CSD Bureau had agreed that the work of the AHWG should result in the production of two papers for each cluster of issues: Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources & Agriculture. The first paper will be a Co-Chairs’ Summary, reflecting the overall thrust of the discussion on Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources & Agriculture, including the main positions stated by delegations. The Summary will not be a negotiated text, but will be included in a CSD-8 report as reference material outlining the state of international debate on a given issue. A second Co-Chairs’ paper will contain elements for a draft decision for future negotiations during the CSD, and is intended to be an action-oriented and concise document to be studied by delegations and groups in the period between the AHWG and CSD-8. The Co-Chairs’ initial draft papers on land resources will be introduced on Wednesday. Their drafts on agriculture will be introduced on Thursday. The revised drafts to be taken forward to CSD-8 will be introduced Friday. Co-Chair McDonnell said he would take the lead on land issues.

Co-Chair Fernandez Diaz-Silveira, who will take the lead on agriculture, underlined the importance to humanity of the issues being discussed and invited delegates to work together towards achieving their objectives with an understanding of the situations and realities of various countries. NIGERIA, on behalf of the G-77/CHINA, asked that the AHWG be suspended to allow time for input from the Group’s experts and from the capitals. He said the issues to be addressed touched on the lives of the majority of developing countries and his Group required further time for discussion. Addressing JoAnne DiSano, Director of the UN Division for Sustainable Development, the G-77/CHINA, while noting the constraints on the Secretariat, noted that arrangements for the provision of documentation had hindered adequate preparations. Co-Chair McDonnell agreed to the G-77/CHINA request and invited delegations to adopt the agenda and programme of work.

DiSano presented: the Secretary-General’s Report on Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources (E/CN.17/2000/6) and Addenda on Deforestation (E/CN.17/2000/6/Add.1), Combating Desertification and Drought (E/CN.17/2000/6/Add.2), Sustainable Mountain Development (E/CN.17/2000/6/Add.3) and Conservation of Biological Diversity (E/CN.17/2000/6/Add.4); the Secretary-General’s Report on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (E/CN.17/2000/7) and Addenda on Urbanization and Sustainable Agricultural Development (E/CN.17/2000/7/Add.1), Biotechnology for Sustainable Agriculture (E/CN.17/2000/7/Add.2), and Changing Patterns of Livestock Production (E/CN.17/2000/7/Add 3). She also noted the availability of documents on national actions and progress, on a workshop on land tenure and cadastral infrastructures for sustainable development, and on the prospects for organic agriculture. She thanked the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Environment Programme, and governments for their input to the preparation of the documentation. DiSano said that the Secretary-General’s Report on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development examines trends in agricultural production, food security, and the reduction of hunger and undernourishment in line with the target set at the World Food Summit in 1996. She said the issues presented an extremely challenging task for delegations at the AHWG and stressed that the outcomes would provide important input to the ten-year review of the implementation of Agenda 21 in 2002.


Hans Alders (NETHERLANDS) presented the Chair’s report of the intersessional Conference on the Multifunctional Character of Agriculture and Land, held in Maastricht from 12-17 September 1999, and organized by the FAO and the Netherlands Government. The Conference addressed two tasks: reviewing progress in the context of agriculture and related land-use in implementing Agenda 21; and identifying the main issues to be addressed in light of the evolving nature of agriculture and related land-use. A central theme of the Conference was to highlight the multi-functional character of agriculture, noting its role in achieving food security, as well as its possible contribution to the social, economic and environmental goals of sustainable development. Alders encouraged delegates to focus their discussions on the relationship between agriculture and sustainable development, noting that this approach should not be confused with the specific trade related aspects that belong to the WTO. Thanking the FAO and the Netherlands for supporting the event, he called on the CSD to take the results of the Conference into consideration, with the aim of achieving action oriented results.


On behalf of the INTERNATIONAL AGRI-FOOD NETWORK, Leah Porter noted that her network comprises members from developed and developing countries, as well as from transnational companies and the public sector. She highlighted that the key word at the AHWG meeting was the "integrated" planning and management of land resources, to which the agri-business sector had contributed. She acknowledged that expanding global food production through productivity in the agricultural sector was only one element of the proceedings. She also noted the importance of resources and income distribution, access to markets and trade, and suitable conditions for social, political and economic development. She further noted that in order for agri-business to invest in sustainable agriculture, governments would have to ensure: security of land tenure, credit for rural development, a favorable investment and regulatory climate, science-based standards, protection of intellectual property rights, expedient customs procedures, a commitment to open and functioning markets, and an enabling framework for the use of safe technologies in agriculture and food production.

On behalf of the INTERNATIONAL FEDERATION OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCERS and VIA CAMPESINA, David King urged that the UN recognize access to food, produced in an environmentally sustainable way, as a basic human right. He noted that many services provided by farmers, including the conservation of rural environments, wildlife habitats, biodiversity and culture, are provided free and must be supported by government. He further noted that community-based initiatives to protect land resources, including land care and water resource use, often represent effective best practices. He suggested that policy makers: recognize the agricultural knowledge system as a vital asset; ensure that new technologies are not imposed; promote training that respects local knowledge; and recognize the right of farming communities to freely use and protect genetic resources including seeds. He called on governments to allocate 0.5% of GNP for Official Development Assistance (ODA) to farm organizations for building capacity. In the light of globalization, he asked that governments provide: a favorable policy environment to support small farmers; essential rural infrastructure, including secure land tenure arrangements; accessible credit; effective marketing; legal safeguards for farmers; adequate infrastructure; effective stakeholder participation; and a significant increase in support for farmers’ development

On behalf of WORKERS AND TRADE UNIONS IN THE AGRICULTURE AND FOOD SYSTEMS, Lucien Royer stressed the importance of a systemic "plough to the plate" approach to sustainable food production, integrating sustainable land use, sustainable agriculture, and the other elements of the food system. Noting that workers are the majority of food consumers, he called for education and training programs. He highlighted the plight of agricultural workers, especially women and children, who are exploited to fulfill "productivity requirements," and asked for support for a new International Labour Organization (ILO) instrument for the health and safety of these workers. He further noted that blind productivity solutions resulted in financial flows, linked to new levels of agricultural productivity, failing to reach the areas where money is needed most. He also called for enforceable guidelines for multinational companies’ control over land and production, as well as voluntary agreements to strengthen regulation and standards.

On behalf of INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, Carol Kalafatic urged the CSD to: address the underlying causes of the lack of progress in sustainable agriculture and land management, including the imposition of an intellectual property rights system on traditional agricultural knowledge; support the existing and emerging initiatives of indigenous peoples; and ensure policy integration on issues relating to poverty, consumption and production, trade liberalization, deforestation, energy and climate change. She called on member States not to allow biotechnology and non-sustainable activities such as mining and oil drilling, and highlighted concerns relating to commercial cash-crop plantations and the dumping of agricultural products. She urged the CSD to: facilitate the design of indicators for sustainable development through a multi-stakeholder process; acknowledge the relevant provisions of the ILO’s Convention 160, and Article 8(j) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD); recognize the rights to self-determination of indigenous peoples; and urge governments to adopt and ratify a treaty on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

On behalf of the SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURAL AND FOOD SYSTEMS CAUCUS, Gordon Bispham noted that sustainable agriculture was a way of life for many indigenous people, who "have been at war" with industrialized agriculture and its side effects. He highlighted the failure of the Seattle Ministerial meeting to act on proposals relating to agriculture in developing countries, and urged the CSD to encourage a more cooperative approach within UN agencies, with the aim, inter alia, of: removing banned or obsolete pesticides that are being exported to developing countries, and providing financial support for organic and other farming practices that do not involve genetic modification or monoculture. He noted the groundwork carried out by the CBD and the Biosafety Protocol.


After offering assurances to the EUROPEAN UNION that the adjournment of Monday’s meeting would not delay the Co-Chairs’ preparation of their initial drafts, Co-Chair McDonnell adjourned the meeting at midday.


As delegations adjourned to the corridors, signals about some of the likely areas of debate began to emerge. Delegates anticipate vigorous responses from developing countries to a European proposal on the need for improved land tenure regimes at the national level. Debates over trade issues and the question of the funding mechanism for the Convention to Combat Desertification are also expected. Many NGO representatives have welcomed plans for the Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on Sustainable Agriculture as a positive element in the programme for CSD-8. While some suggested that too many of the issues are already being dealt with in other forums, others felt that the CSD was the ideal forum for an integrated approach.


AHWG GENERAL DISCUSSION: The Working Group will reconvene to begin general discussion at 10:00 am in Conference Room 4.

WOMEN AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT: The CSD NGO Women’s Caucus will host a discussion on Women and Sustainable Development 2000-2002 at 1:15 pm in Conference Room D.

BRIEFING ON THE MULTIFUNCTIONAL CHARACTER OF AGRICULTURE AND LAND (MFCAL): There will be a briefing at 6:15 pm in Conference Room 6, on the MFCAL Conference, organized by the FAO and the Netherlands in September 1999.

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