International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development
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Frequently Asked Questions

frequently asked questions What is the IAASTD and what is its purpose?

The International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) is a unique international effort that will evaluate the relevance, quality and effectiveness of agricultural knowledge, science, and technology (AKST); and effectiveness of public and private sector policies as well as institutional arrangements in relation to AKST. The purpose of IAASTD is to assess agricultural knowledge, science and technology (AKST) in order to use AKST more effectively to reduce hunger and poverty, improve rural livelihoods, and facilitate equitable, environmentally, socially and economically sustainable development. The IAASTD seeks to bring the best available information to bear on policy and management decisions, and involve regional experts in the preparation and peer-review of the sub-global assessments. It will build and enhance local and regional capacity to design, implement and utilize scientific assessments. It will be multi-thematic, addressing nutritional security, livelihoods, human health, and environmental sustainability; multi-spatial, combining global and sub-global assessments; multi-temporal, taking a short- and long-term perspective (now to 2050); and will integrate local knowledge with institutional knowledge.

What is the current status of IAASTD activities?

The final plenary session of the IAASTD was held from April 7-12, in Johannesburg, South Africa. 61 Governments, as well as over 50 Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and observers the report reviewed the Summaries for Decision Makers and the Executive Summary of the Synthesis Report. All Governments welcomed the reports as an important accomplishment and decision-making tool that will help guide the future of agriculture in both policy and practice. 58 Governments have approved both the Global Summary for Decision Makers and the Executive Summary of the Synthesis Report. The United States, Australia and Canada noted the importance of the document but maintain reservations on the presentation of a few issues within the report.

How was the IAASTD project first initiated?

The Assessment process has been initiated by the World Bank, in open partnership with a multistakeholder group of organizations, including FAO, GEF, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, the World Bank, and the WHO and representatives of governments, civil society, private sector and scientific institutions from around the world. It uses a consultative 'bottom-up' process that recognizes the different needs of different regions and communities. Regional consultations were held in Cairo, Paris, Lima, Washington, San Jose, New Delhi, Suva, Bogor, Addis Ababa, and Beijing. The 55-member Steering Committee met in Cork, Ireland (12-13 June 2003) and Budapest, Hungary (31 July - 2 August 2003) to finalize recommendations to the President of the World Bank and the Heads of FAO, IFAD, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO and WHO. In December 2003, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, wrote the President of the World Bank, Jim Wolfensohn, expressing full support and cooperation for the initiative. The Panel of participating governments, taking into account the views of other stakeholders at the IAASTD Intergovernmental Plenary held in Nairobi from 30 August to 3 September 2004, agreed on the objectives, goals, scope, key questions, design, preparation and peer-review processes, outputs, timetable, budget and governance structure.

What are the range of topics assessed by the IAASTD

The IAASTD is composed of one global assessment and five sub-global assessments, which will 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. The IAASTD will integrate scientific information on a range of topics that are critically interlinked, but are often addressed independently. Highlighting linkages among questions concerning agriculture, climate, biodiversity, natural resources, hunger, poverty and development will enable decision makers to better understand the connections between what they may have previously seen as isolated issues.

What will the primary outputs of the IAASTD be?

Primary outputs will include an ensemble of peer-reviewed sub-global and global assessment reports each with a Summary for Decision Makers on the role of agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology in development. The reports will take a near- to long-term perspective and look at policy and institutional issues in light of history and plausible future scenarios.The Assessment reports would be 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.

Who will be the users and audience of the IAASTD reports?

- The primary users and direct beneficiaries of the IAASTD will be decision makers in national and local governments, the United Nations MEAs (UNCBD, UNCCD, Ramsar, UNFCCC) the GEF, international agencies (FAO, UNDP, UNEP, UNESCO, the World Bank, and WHO), and the scientific community;
- National governments and civil society will use the Report to help weigh the costs and benefits (environmental, social, economic) of various management and technology options and to prioritize funding for research;
- International organizations will use the Report to measure progress in achieving sustainable use objectives, to help in identifying priorities for action and research, to identify optimal practices in terms of natural resource management and hunger and poverty reduction; and to galvanize greater public and private interest to agricultural issues related to rural development, nutritional security, the environment and health;
- All stakeholders, including the media and civil society, will also use the Report as a source of scientific consensus on controversial issues regarding new and emerging technologies and practices in relation to their impacts on health, the environment, rural livelihoods and development;
- Finally, the scientific community and institutions supporting scientific research will use the findings to focus research on questions that have significant policy implications and are characterized by scientific uncertainty.

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