96 governments at UN conference recognize essential role of agrarian reform

10 March 2006

Seeking to lift hundreds of millions of people out of grinding poverty, representatives of 96 member countries of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today ended a four-day conference on agrarian reform by acknowledging its essential role in promoting sustainable development of the planet.

The International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICARRD), which brought together in Porto Alegre, Brazil, 350 government delegations and representatives of over 70 farmer and civil society organizations from around the world, issued a declaration recognizing that joint action of governments and international and civil society organizations are fundamental.

“We emphasize that agrarian reform and rural development policies, laws and institutions must respond to the needs and aspirations of rural people, and therefore must involve relevant stakeholders in the decision-making process,” the declaration said.

Signatory governments committed themselves to developing mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation to reinforce processes of agrarian reform and rural development at national and international levels and to establish mechanisms for periodic evaluation of progress in these areas.

“When FAO agreed to organize this Conference, we were under no illusion that dialogue would be easy on a subject such as agrarian reform,” FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf said in a message at the closing ceremony.

“However, one of the great results of this Conference has been the level of dialogue reached between government representatives and members of peasants’ and civil society organizations, laid out in a common vision about the importance of introducing urgent and needed changes to eradicate hunger and poverty.”

Three quarters of the world's 852 million men and women who suffer from hunger depend on farming for survival.

The governments who signed the declaration reaffirmed that “wider, secure and sustainable access to land, water and other natural resources” on which rural people depend are “essential to hunger and poverty eradication, which contribute to sustainable development and should be an inherent part of national policies.”

 

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