Formulating a document containing recommendations for 193 countries is one of the major tasks facing the participants at the 2nd International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, which will be held from March 6-10 in the southern Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.
José Tubino, representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Brazil, says that the debates are expected to lead to a final declaration, which will include an action plan to orient UN member countries.
"I would say that there will be a big responsibility at the national level, where, in each country, the conference’s recommendations will have to be converted into national government policies and development plans," he points out.
According to Tubino, the final declaration should incorporate suggestions made by representatives of organized civil society who will participate in the "Land, Work, and Dignity" forum, parallel to the official event.
"We are working on the organization of the intergovernmental forum, which is the FAO’s responsibility, but we are also trying to open the necessary spaces for a simultaneous dialogue with the civil society forum," commented the FAO representative, for whom civil society has an essential role to play in holding governments accountable for implementing the recommendations.
"The FAO is not empowered to interfere with national sovereignty. The demands have to arise from society itself," Tubino judged. "The conference will establish a durable platform of understanding and dialogue on issues of rural development and agrarian reform, backed by a panel of international observers."
The event, organized by the FAO in partnership with the Brazilian government, will have five central themes to orient the debates: access to land; training for accessing government services and policies; challenges and potentialities in territorial development, agrarian reform, social justice, and sustainable development; and food sovereignty and access to natural resources.
The last International Conference on Agrarian Reform was held in 1979, in Italy.