Earth Summit: Draft Framework for NGO Working Group on Sustainable Agriculture 1995

Background and Purposes:

The Nongovernmental Working Group on Sustainable Agriculture (working group for short) has been in existence since May, 1992 when it was formed to assist with coordination of NGO position and consensus development for the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The working group has no formal status, but is an adhoc and ongoing working group with the following purposes:

1. To EXCHANGE information related to international coordination of policy and program development for sustainable agriculture and food security issues to social movements involved in agricultural and rural development 2. To MONITOR important meetings and policy development processes of international governmental and nongovernmental groups related to policy and program development (2).

3. To REPORT on and to disseminate information about national regional and international events and processes related to sustainable agriculture policy and programs (3).

4. To FACILITATE development of balanced South/North positions and/or statements and convey them into specific national/regional/international fora (4).

Working Group Participation:

The working group is an open forum to groups and individuals engaged in the ongoing work of linking local, national and international efforts to achieve a just and participatory sustainable agriculture. Membership is not formal but participation is based on the following commitments:

1. A commitment to the understanding of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security as framed by the Alternative NGO Treaties on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security drafted in Rio de Janeiro at the Global Forum in June, 1992.
2. A commitment to transparent, democratic and participatory process in facilitation of consensus building for international events including consideration of civil sector perspectives on agriculture and rural development.
3. A commitment to report on the full spectrum of South, North, and sectoral positions when “covering” international events as a rapporteur for the working group.
4. A commitment to use of email to keep other members of the working group informed of activities related to the purposes of the working group.
5. A commitment to avoid use of the NGO working group as a vehicle for pursuing the advocacy agendas of specific organizations, constituencies or regions.

Funding Working Group Activities:

In large part the activities of the working group have been either voluntary, in-kind or paid for by funding of individual participant from the organizations these individuals are otherwise employed by. Occasionally there has been funding of the costs of participation in international events (travel, lodging, communications) when no other sponsors can be found. However, the NGO working group cannot be a fiscal agent itself, as it has no legal status. It is not the intention of the working group to create a new organization. However, funding is always an issue, even for participation from the North. The raising of some funds for participation will always be necessary to enable the group to do its work when there are not other sources of financial support.

Current Activity:

In 1994 participants in the working group are involved with coverage and coordination of the following events and processes:

  1. Women and agriculture issues in preparation for the 4th Annual Conference on Women. (Beijing 1995). Contact Kathy Lawrence, Women, Food and Agriculture Working Group:
  2. US Citizens Network conference on sustainable development (Iowa July, 1994). Contact Linda Elswick, World Sustainable Agriculture Association:
  3. 1995 CSD planning in context of “International Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security Watch” presented in the Global NGO Action Strategies. Contact: Linda Elswick, WSAA: for Northern coordination, Silvia Ribeiro, REDES: for Southern coordination.
  4. Latin America conference on sustainable agriculture and food security (Venezuela July, 1995). Contact Miguel Angel Nunez, JPIAT:
  5. International Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security Week (Washington October, 1994). Contact Thomas Forster:
  6. NGO agriculture positions in meetings related to reform of the multilateral development banks (Madrid October, 1994) Contact ? Karin?
  7. Monitoring indicators of sustainabiity development for agriculture (ongoing). Contact Thomas Forster:
  8. Agriculture, Fair Trade and Sustainable Development issues in context of GATT, NAFTA and related trade regimes (ongoing). Contact Silvia Ribeiro, REDES:, or Kristin Dawkins, IATP:
  9. Social impacts of food production and distribution in preparation for the Social Sumnut (1995). Contact
  10. Regular postings of reports to email lists and networks concerning the above events/processes
  11. Diskette library of NGO treaties, positions, meeting reports and other materials

Notes from purposes of the working group:

  1. The operating consensus framework for the working group are the treaties on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security drafted in Rio in 1992 and the derivative documents which have been developed on the basis of these treaties in the years since 1992.
  2. Some of the events which have been monitored and for which positions have been coordinated by participants in the working group include. ICN 1992. CSD 1993, CGIAR meetings, World Bank and other MDB reform processes, regional meetings of NGOs and government agencies, Mulheim and Copenhagen NGO meetings, Prepcoms for the Conference on Women, etc.
  3. Alerts, reports and draft positions have been posted to participants in the working group and on various electronic networks. Some of these positions have become part of the formal record and published documents such as in the Global Action Briefings, the Mulheim Declaration on Sustainable Agriculture.
  4. Participants in the working group have worked within coalitions of many other groups to develop positions which have been signed by organizations and used to help advocate for NGO positions in many fora.