Towards a new "Agro-Culture"

The Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences launched, three years ago, a work of reflection and collaboration on the sustainable development of agro-ecosystems. The objective of this first step was for UNESCO to take a position on matters related to agriculture and rural development, as well as to define the organisation's added value on these matters.

It was made clear during this reflection process that agriculture and food are important aspects that are closely related to many of the major challenges humanity will have to face during the 21st century: environmental issues; climate change; hunger; poverty; and, erosion of cultural diversity and health. It would therefore be too simplistic to think that agriculture determines only the way farmers produce agricultural commodities and make use of natural resources. Agricultural practices actually determine the way human beings, be they from cities or rural areas, relate to their environment, consume, and manage their biological and cultural heritage. Agriculture and food are, today, more than ever, at the core of all concerns. To face tomorrow's challenges, we will consequently need to develop a new “agro-culture” which maintains diversity and achieves sustainability. We wish to contribute to this dynamic through the different mandates and areas of expertise of UNESCO and, more specifically, through the following initiatives:

Besides the exchange and communication platform linking all sectors of UNESCO, its field offices, and different institutions this initiative will be supported by the World Network of Biosphere Reserves, coordinated by UNESCO's MAB programme, in order to analyse, test and promote these innovative rural development approaches.

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