Dear Mr Langmore,
I refer to your letter of 10 October 2000 requesting FAO's input for the
preparation of a report on the implementation of the Copenhagen Declaration
and Programme of Action and the Further Initiatives for Social Development
adopted at Geneva.
There is considerable complimentarity between the objectives of the Social
Summit for Social Development and those of the World Food Summit of
Rome 1996. One important area of complimentarity relates to the reduction of
the proportion of people living in extreme poverty by one half by the year 2015
and the implementation of pro-poor growth strategies.
While the Social Summit for Social Development provided a fresh mandate for
the formulation of policies and strategies for poverty eradication through
income-generation activities, and sustainable livelihood approaches, the
world's commitment to the goals of poverty reduction and the elimination of
hunger were reinforced by the outcome of the World Food Summit of Rome
1996. The WFS reaffirmed the right of everyone to adequate food and the
fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger. It pledged the world's
political will and commitment to achieving food security for all and to ongoing
efforts to eradicate hunger in all countries, with a view to reducing the number
of undernourished people to half their present level no later than 2015.
The WFS Plan of Action stresses the importance of the role of improved
institutions to ensure food security, combat poverty and promote the
development of human and natural resources. It recommends to governments
to include in their policies, in collaboration with all civil society actors, the
promotion of political, economic and administrative decentralisation.
In line with its mandates FAO is strongly committed to and has been assisting
governments in formulating policies and strategies for increasing access by the
poor to capital, technical knowledge, and other land-based resources through
implementation of policies that promote decentralisation, provide the
necessary powers and resources to local/village institutions, foster farmers’ and
rural people’s organisations and strengthen their capacity to participate, at
local, regional and national level, in the definition and implementation of rural
development policies and programmes, as well as in the sustainable
management of natural resources.
In this context, FAO has provided assistance in the identification and
preparation of projects on improving rural institutions and services and
promotion of sustainable rural livelihoods;
restructuring and decentralization of rural institutions;
capacity building of small farmers' organizations;
institutional mechanisms for multi-stakeholder dialogue and collaboration.
FAO has also supported countries in developing and adopting policies,
programmes, best practices and tools for land tenure to facilitate access to land,
ensure user rights and improve land markets. Assistance was provided in four
formulation of methodologies for government assisted land tenure policies
to improve access to land by disadvantaged groups, especially women;
formulation of market and private land transaction policies and institutional
support to improve access by the poor for sustainable use of natural
modifications of the land tenure systems to promote rural development
under indigenous and common property resource management and
land tenure regularisation and institution building.
Assistance has been provided to countries towards the establishment of policy
guidelines and legislative mechanisms for conflict resolution to improve access
to land for the landless using various land reform approaches (resettlement,
leasing, etc) in a manner that is gender-responsive and environmentally
sustainable. Support for the development of women was provided through
research and analysis and identification of constraints faced by rural women
under customary land tenure especially in relation to land rights, accumulation
and control of land based productive resources.
In the follow-up to the WFS, FAO has also assisted Member Nations in
designing strategies for the promotion of secure and gainful employment and
equitable and equal access to productive resources such as land, water and
credit, which maximize the incomes of the poor. The generation of
employment and income raises effective demand in these areas, thereby
stimulating production, economic diversification and rural development. To
this end, FAO has been assisting Governments, in partnership with actors of
civil society, to review and adopt policies that create conditions which
encourage stable employment, especially in rural areas, including off-farm
jobs, in order to provide sufficient earnings to facilitate the purchase of basic
necessities, and to encourage labour intensive technologies where appropriate.
FAO has assisted Governments in assessing living standards and risk and
identifying factors which contribute to poverty and insecurity thereby
identifying the characteristics of those households with the most acute food
I look forward to our continuing collaboration in the implementation of the
Copenhagen commitments and hope that this brief will be of some assistance
to you in the preparation of the report on the implementation of the
Copenhagen Declaration and Programme of Action and the Further Initiatives
for social Development adopted at Geneva.
Rural Development Division