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Rural Development

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Promoting sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD) is the subject of chapter 14 of Agenda 21. The major objective of SARD is to increase food production in a sustainable way and enhance food security. This will involve education initiatives, utilization of economic incentives and the development of appropriate and new technologies, thus ensuring stable supplies of nutritionally adequate food, access to those supplies by vulnerable groups, and production for markets; employment and income generation to alleviate poverty; and natural resource management and environmental protection.

The Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) first reviewed Rural Development 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 with a rural development perspective 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.

Rural Development is included as one of the thematic areas along with Agriculture, Land, Drought, Desertification and Africa in the third implementation cycle CSD-16/CSD-17.