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DIALOGUES WITH MAJOR GROUPS

LOCAL AUTHORITIES: Panelists in the dialogue session with local authorities shared experiences in developing Local Agenda 21s in Dubai, London, Marrakech, Barcelona, Cajamarca (Peru) and Leicester (UK). They highlighted: partnerships between local authorities internationally; decentralization and local governance; and the progress of the Local Agenda 21 movement. Panelists proposed that the CSD focus on: the human settlements sector and the Habitat Agenda; application of Agenda 21 principles by TNCs; capacity-building; harmonization of policies between different levels of government; initiatives to improve coordination of agencies; and developing local authority networks. Panelists also called for: a meeting between local authorities and global leaders; a global target for Local Agenda 21s; partnerships on all government levels dealing with freshwater issues; a study prior to CSD-6 to investigate barriers to local sustainable development imposed by central authorities; and language pertaining to local authorities in the Co-Chairs' text on capacity-building. Presenters also described: green spaces programmes; increased public transport; air quality improvements; privatization of water and sanitation departments; housing programmes; and institutional frameworks for consensus-building.

FARMERS: The dialogue session on farmers included representatives from the US, Denmark, Sweden, Canada, Burkina Faso, Nicaragua, India and the Russian Federation. Panelists discussed: farm management techniques and voluntary programmes; partnerships; farmers’ organizations; and priorities and strategies. Discussants highlighted: farming as an economic activity; environmentally-friendly production measures; the impact of agriculture on water use and conservation; industrial encroachment into prime farmland; poverty among small-scale farmers, especially women; the public image of farmers; the role of organic farming; the definition of “sustainable agriculture;” and local product distribution.

Discussants also noted: the implications of international trade and private sector investments on production; long-term land tenure as an incentive for sustainable practices; and the role of the WTO. Some discussants noted problems with equitable distribution of food as opposed to its production. Others underscored: farmers as a component of rural communities; IPR-related problems; low net income for farmers leading to short-term survival plantings; and “irresponsible” feed technologies. One participant noted that the Co-Chairs’ text does not refer to the Leipzig meeting on plant genetic resources, the FAO International Undertaking or the upcoming biosafety protocol under the CBD. Panelists also highlighted the need for: increased farmers’ income; agricultural research, including biotechnology; strengthened farmers' rights; completion of the biosafety protocol; elimination of TRIPs from agriculture; a moratorium on bio- prospecting; and an international convention on food security.

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