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SARD - October 2003

Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Mountain Regions:Outcomes of the First Meeting of the Adelboden Group in September 2003

The First Meeting of the "Adelboden Group" on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Mountain Regions (SARD-M) took place at FAO Headquarters on 11-12 September 2003 (see August 2003 update on this meeting). The meeting was organized by FAO with the support from the Swiss Government, in the framework of the follow-up to the Adelboden International Conference on SARD-M held in Switzerland in June 2002 (see August 2002 update on this conference).

The aim of the first gathering of the Adelboden Group - whose establishment is recommended in the Adelboden Declaration adopted by consensus at the end of the SARD in Mountain Regions Conference - was to formulate, through a participatory process involving governments, international organizations and civil society groups, a four-year project proposal on SARD-M to be submitted for funding to governmental, international and private donors.

To this effect, 58 representatives of 15 governments, 11 civil society groups and 5 international organizations, participated in the Adelboden Group's first meeting in an open, focussed and action-oriented discussion. They discussed, amended and approved the long-term objective for the SARD-M project proposal, as well as related specific objectives, outputs and activities.

The overall objective was defined as to: "Facilitate the improved formulation, review, implementation and evaluation of SARD policies for mountain regions at national, decentralized and community levels, taking into account global, regional and trans-boundary contexts and linkages, in order to enhance livelihoods in mountain regions".

Three specific objectives were also approved as to: 1) Improve the understanding of the role and value of mountain ecosystems and the need for effective SARD mountain-specific policies, legislation and institutions at various levels and under different contexts; 2) Strengthen the capacity of governments and other stakeholders to promote SARD mountain-specific policies, instruments and recommendations; and 3) Implement SARD policies for mountain regions and related instruments at local, national and trans-boundary levels.

FAO estimates that about 720 million people, or 12 percent of the world's population, live in mountain areas. Approximately 70 percent of these remain rural and continue to depend on the natural resource base of land, water and forest for their livelihood. Of total world's mountain people, about 90 percent, or 663 million, live in developing and transition countries. Of these, 271 million are estimated to be vulnerable to food insecurity and, of these, around half are likely to be chronically hungry.

The coordination and potential synergies with other projects and initiatives relating to SARD (defined in Chapter 14 of the comprehensive environmental plan of action Agenda 21) and Sustainable Mountain Development (defined in Chapter 13 of Agenda 21) were also examined. Accordingly, it was confirmed by the Adelboden Group that the SARD-M project is a specific project under the overall umbrella of SARD and has direct links with other mountain-related programmes such as, notably, the International Partnership on Sustainable Mountain Development.

For more information/details on:
  • The SARD-M Adelboden Conference and its Declaration, please visit the official website
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  • The International Year of Mountains, please click here
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  • The International Conference on Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development in Mountain Regions held in Adelboden you can read the interview with Mr. Hans-Jörg Lehmann published in the October 2002 update