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Chapter 14 of Agenda 21, on sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD), notes that, by the year 2025, 83 per cent of the expected global population of 8.5 billion will be living in developing countries. Yet the capacity of available resources and technologies to satisfy the demands of this growing population for food and other agricultural commodities remains uncertain. Agriculture has to meet this challenge, mainly by increasing production on land already in use and by avoiding further encroachment on land that is only marginally suitable for cultivation.

CSD & Agriculture

Major adjustments are needed in agricultural, environmental and macroeconomic policy, at both national and international levels, in developed as well as developing countries, to create the conditions for sustainable agriculture.and rural development (SARD). The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) first reviewed these issues at its third session in 1995, when it noted with concern that, even though some progress had been reported, disappointment is widely expressed at the slow progress in moving towards sustainable agriculture and rural development in many countries・ Sustainable agriculture was also considered at the five-year review of implementation of Agenda 21 in 1997, at which time Governments were urged to attach high priority to implementing the commitments agreed at the 1996 World Food Summit, especially the call for at least halving the number of undernourished people in the world by the year 2015. This goal was reinforced by the Millennium Declaration adopted by Heads of State and Government in September 2000, which resolved to halve by 2015 the proportion of the world's people who suffer from hunger.

In accordance with its multi-year programme of work, agriculture as an economic sector was a major focus of CSD-8 in 2000, along with integrated planning and management of land resources as the sectoral theme. The supporting documentation and the discussions highlighted the linkages between the economic, social and environmental objectives of sustainable agriculture. The Commission adopted decision 8/4 which identified 12 priorities for action. It reaffirmed that the major objectives of SARD are to increase food production and enhance food security in an environmentally sound way so as to contribute to sustainable natural resource management. It noted that food security-although a policy priority for all countries-remains an unfulfilled goal. It also noted that agriculture has a special and important place in society and helps to sustain rural life and land.

Agriculture is included as one of the thematic areas along with rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa in the CSD's 3rd implementation cycle (CSD-16/17) in 2008-2009.

See also website information under Rural development, Land, Drought and desertification and Freshwater.

Coordination & Cooperation

Another recommendation of the WSSD is to strengthen and improve coordination of existing initiatives to enhance sustainable agricultural production and food security. This was a follow-up to CSD-8's decision to invite the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the CSD secretariat to continue the stakeholder dialogue on SARD in preparation for the 10-year review of Agenda 21 in 2002. FAO has continued to serve as lead agency in the UN system for Chapter 14 of Agenda 21, as well as other relevant chapters, in particular, Chapter 10 on land issues. To further international coordination, FAO has initiated and provides the secretariat for the UN System Network on Rural Development and Food Security. In addition, FAO helped launch, at the WSSD, a Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development (SARD) partnership between Governments and civil society. FAO, with IFAD, WFP and other partners, also developed and supports the International Alliance Against Hunger to accelerate action to reduce world hunger.

For more information on these initiatives, see and