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The State of Food and Agriculture 1989

World and regional reviews: Sustainable Development and Natural Resources Management

image of The State of Food and Agriculture 1989

In addition to the usual review of the recent world food and agriculture situation, each issue of The State of Food and Agriculture from 1957 has included one or more special studies of problems of longer-term interest. This year’s edition focuses on sustainable development and natural resources management.

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Conclusion

This discussion began by observing that “sustainable development” can be defined in different ways, but that however defined, in practice sustainable agriculture means halting natural resource depletion and destruction, and promoting the maintenance of ecologically sound increases in agricultural productivity. It observed that such processes are brought about by poverty, ignorance and perverse economic incentives that induce environmentally destructive behaviour. It emphasized that since unsustainable agricultural activity hits the poor in rural areas hardest, reform efforts must be focused at the household level. International, regional and national action should seek, above all, to change the incentives that at present encourage the misuse and overuse of natural resources. It noted further that women have an important economic role in the use of natural resources. Understanding that role and the incentives that shape women’s behaviour is therefore an essential step toward better conservation and use of natural resources.

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