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Cultivating our Futures: FAO/Netherlands Conference on the Multifunctional Character of Agriculture and Land
12-17 September
Maastricht, Netherlands

Final Briefing

Daily coverage
Note: no issue was published on 16 Sept
20 Sept
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17 Sept
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15 Sept
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14 Sept
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13 Sept
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Our complete selection of previous day's briefings, images and RealAudio:

16 Sept
15 Sept 14 Sept
13 Sept 12 Sept

The "Cultivating Our Futures" Conference on the Multifunctional Character of Agriculture and Land (MFCAL) took place from 12-17 September 1999 in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Organized jointly by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Government of the Netherlands, this international conference was attended by 260 participants from more than 100 countries, including agricultural and environmental experts and policy makers from governments, international organizations, NGOs and other sectors of civil society, including farmers' organizations.

During the course of the six-day meeting, delegates engaged in general discussions on MFCAL in Plenary sessions, discussed the MFCAL concept in regional group meetings, went on field excursions to visit project sites in the region, and considered several drafts of the Chair's report of the conference in Plenary sessions and "informal informal" consultations. The main outcome of the conference was the final report of the Chair, which reviews progress in implementing sustainable agriculture and rural development (SARD) and identifies instruments and issues for future action. It will contribute to the eighth session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-8), which will focus on integrated planning and management of land resources and SARD when it convenes from 24 April-5 May 2000.

FAO/Netherlands WebForum

Photo and RealAudio highlights from 17 September

A representative of RAFI called for greater recognition of rural poverty

CSD-8 Chair Juan Mayr, Minister for the Environment of Colombia, said food for the future is a major concern, which poses the challenge of finding adequate and equitable responses at the international, national and local levels. He noted that CSD-8 will be held in New York (24 April-5 May 2000) and is to address the issues of the management of land resources, financial resources, trade and investment together with economic growth.

RealAudio excerpt

CSD-8 Chair Mayr also met with NGO representatives in an informal consultation
Cui Shian, Assistant Minister of Agriculture of China, said he believes the concept of MFCAL is another active step that will help bring about practices leading to sustainable rural and agricultural development. He said the Chinese government has established a sustainable development agenda to address these challenges, as well as an agricultural action plan and significant legislative reforms. He discussed China's efforts to protect the environment while increasing farm capacity.

Modibo Traore, Minister of Rural Development and Water of Mali, highlighted problems
for developing countries competing in world agricultural markets due to the use of certain
economic instruments by developed countries, and stressed the need to mobilize new
resources for developing countries to ensure food security.

RealAudio excerpt

Christopher Agbobu, Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development of Nigeria, discussed Africa's unique challenges regarding agricultural and rural development, emphasizing the large concentrations of poor and hungry in Africa's rural areas. He said small-scale farming is a major feature of agricultural systems in the developing world, and urged a renewed focus on agricultural development and sustainable rural development.

Belay Ejigu, Vice Minister of Agriculture of Ethiopia, stressed the need for multisectoral and multilateral approaches to address the problem of food insecurity. He noted that agriculture may play other significant functions beyond food security, but to most developing countries, these will only receive attention if the food security function is addressed first.

RealAudio excerpt

Members of the Cairns Group in a huddle during Plenary.
Chair Alders taking a break during the reading of his Report of the meeting. Delegates approved the Chair's report by acclamation.

Henri Carsalade, Assistant Director-General at the FAO Sustainable Development Department, thanked delegations for their participation and said the conference demonstrated the will of all to work toward SARD. He urged participants to underscore the importance of technical meetings and their place in the negotiating process involving the CSD and the FAO's internal work.

RealAudio excerpt

Participants were treated to a laser show during the closing ceremonies.
The extended WebForum family: ENB writers (3 seated in the front row) and members of the FOA/Netherlands Virtual Maastricht team.

The Road to Maastricht

FAO/Netherlands WebForum
ENB's coverage of CSD-7 Intersessionals FAO web site
Linkages CSD home page U.N. Sustainable Development web site (including CSD home page)

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