International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development

International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development

The International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) is a international effort initiated by the World Bank that evaluated the relevance, quality and effectiveness of agricultural knowledge, science, and technology (AKST), and effectiveness of related public and private sector policies and institutional arrangements. Its overarching question is: "How can we reduce hunger and poverty, improve rural livelihoods, and facilitate equitable, environmentally, socially and economically sustainable development through the generation, access to, and use of agricultural knowledge, science and technology?" The project developed out of a consultative process involving 900 participants and 110 countries. The IAASTD was launched as an intergovernmental process, with a multi-stakeholder Bureau, under the co-sponsorship of the FAO, GEF, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, the World Bank and WHO.

The IAASTD was a three-year collaborative effort (2005-2007) that assessed(AKST)in relation to meeting development and sustainability goals of:
- Reducing hunger and poverty
- Improving nutrition, health and rural livelihoods
- Facilitating social and environmental sustainability

The results and conclusions of the project were reviewed and ratified during the Intergovernmental Plenary Meeting held 7-12 April, 2008, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Governance and Management

The geographically based multi-stakeholder Bureau, is composed of 30 government representatives from different regions, 22 representatives from non-governmental organizations ); consumer groups, and producer groups, representatives from 8 institutions, and 2 co-chairs. The cosponsoring agencies serve as ex-officio members of the Bureau.

The IAASTD has a distributed Secretariat providing management and oversight of the project, with the major component being in Washington DC and other components in FAO (Rome), UNEP (Nairobi), and UNESCO (Paris). The current Director is Robert T. Watson. Other members of the distributed Secretariat include staff located at the Sub-global Management Entities.

Overview and Structure

The IAASTD is composed of one Global Assessment and five Sub-global Assessments, which use the same basic framework as the Global Assessment, i.e., the impacts of AKST on hunger, poverty, nutrition, human health, and environmental and social sustainability in relation to both the past and the future. The Global and Sub-global assessments are peer-reviewed by governments and experts, and approved by the Panel of participating governments.

The five Sub-global Assessments:
- Central and West Asia and North Africa (CWANA) - Regional Institute: ICARDA (International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas)
- East and South Asia and the Pacific (ESAP) - Regional Institute: World Fish Center
- Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) - Regional Institute: IICA (Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture)
- North America and Europe (NAE)
- Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)- Regional Institute: ACTS (African Centre for Technology Studies)

were undertaken at the regional, national or local scales and complement the Global Assessment by examining its context-specific aspects.

The above reports are complemented by a synthesis report which covers the following issues: :challenges faced by agriculture today, pros and cons of bioenergy, potential role of biotechnology, effects of climate change, effects on health, use of natural resources, small farmers & global trade, future role for traditional farming, women in agriculture, and options for action. [cite web | title=Facts on Agriculture & Development| publisher=GreenFacts | accessdate=2008-04-15 | url=]

Final Report

On 15th April 2008, IAASTD report findings were released. The report incorporates a global assessment as well as five sub-global assessments in acknowledgement that the challenges in Africa are not identical to the challenges in Asia or Latin America. By taking a 'bottom-up' approach, the report aims to understand the needs of those most vulnerable to threats to the security of their food and livelihood. Prior plenary sessions in Johannesburg aimed to come to agreement on the key priorities for each region. [cite web | title=IAASTD press material| publisher=IAASTD | accessdate=2008-04-15 | url=]

A series of published (printed and web-based), critical, in-depth Global and Sub-global Assessments of local and institutional knowledge and experiences was produced. The Assessment reports have been translated into the six official UN languages, presented, and discussed at international, national and sub-national user forums, workshops and symposia involving the range of stakeholders.

The IAASTD aims in its reports to create 'plausible scenarios', based on knowledge from past events and existing trends such as population growth, rural/urban food and poverty dynamics, loss of agricultural land, water availability and climate change effects. Based around these issues, 'What if?' questions can be formulated that allow the implications of different technological options to be explored and understood.

ee also

*Food security


External links

* [ IAASTD website]
* [ Official popularized version of IAASTD synthesis report]
* [ BBC News - "Global food system must change"]
* [ NGO website on the IAASTD]

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