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What is the Network?


The UN System Network on Rural Development and Food Security is a global partnership approach towards tackling rural development challenges at the country level.

Established in 1997 by the UN Administrative Committee on Coordination (today UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination), it brings together key actors for the achievement of the shared goals of "food for all" and rural poverty reduction.

Comprising 20 UN organizations, the UN System Network is an inter-agency mechanism for follow-up to the World Food Summit (1996) and World Food Summit: five years later (2002) and supports the International Land Coalition. The Network Secretariat is managed by FAO, in close collaboration with IFAD and WFP.

The UN System Network aims to:

  • support efforts by Governments and its partners to implement the World Food Summit Plan of Action and rural development and food security programmes;

  • reinforce ties between UN System organizations and other stakeholders, notably NGOs and civil society organizations;

  • foster synergies between Network members;

  • exchange and disseminate information, experiences and best practices.

Focusing on country-level needs

The dynamic core of the UN System Network consists of national Thematic Groups (TGs) working on rural development and food security issues. Each group defines its themes and agenda according to the different needs and priorities at the national level. By the end of year 2002, more than 80 TGs have been established in the world.

Encouraging the participation of all

A national TG typically comprises representatives from UN organizations, governments, donors, NGOs, civil society and private sector, whose participation is being strongly encouraged given their role as key actors for development.

This broad-based membership creates a collaborative framework in which to plan and implement rural development activities; promote new projects; share information, knowledge and expertise; promote discussion on the main development challenges and ensure coordinated technical support to national efforts.

The Network web site periodically reports on the TGs activities, provides information on worldwide broad-partnership and multistakeholder initiatives for rural development and food security.

Meeting development challenges

Thematic Groups set an agenda and methodology of work, responding to priority themes for action in each country. Topics are wide-ranging and can typically include assistance to the formulation of rural development policies and laws, coordination on specific issues related to rural development and support to specific projects or programs such as the Special Programme for Food Security (SPFS) or the Food Insecurity and Vulnerability Information and Mapping Systems (FIVIMS).

Many Thematic Groups are also creating strong linkages between sectoral programmes and multisectoral UN initiatives, such as the Common Country Assessment (CCA) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), and some are supporting national governments in the preparation of Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs).

The national Thematic Groups are also likely to play a significant role in the implementation of the International Alliance Against Hunger which was formally approved in the final declaration of the World Food Summit : five years later that was held in Rome from 10 to 13 June 2002.

All these initiatives are supporting the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

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