About the IAASTD Report

Modern agriculture is producing more food per capita than ever before. At the same time, according to estimates from the Food and Agriculture Organisation, approximately 842 million people are currently affected by hunger. An additional two billion people are suffering from micronutrient deficiencies, lacking key vitamins and minerals. In 2008, 1.4 billion people were overweight, of these 500 million were obese. Climate change will present an enormous new challenge to agriculture while the world population is predicted to increase to 9 billion by 2050. Whether clean water, fertile soils, forests, wetlands and other natural resources, as well as the biodiversity of the planet, will be available to future generations, in a condition that enables them to survive, will depend crucially on the way we produce our food and on our diets. Agricultural activities and the subsequent processing, storage, transport and disposal of its products are directly or indirectly responsible for almost 40% of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. One third of the world’s population obtains its livelihood from agriculture. Agriculture and food is by far the world's largest business and the measure of all forms of sustainable development.

The IAASTD process

It was against this backdrop that the World Bank and the United Nations initiated a unique international scientific process to evaluate the state of global agriculture, its history and future: the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), commonly known as the World Agriculture Report.
More than 400 scientists, stemming from all continents and a broad spectrum of disciplines, worked together for four years with the aim of answering the following question:

“How can we reduce hunger and poverty, improve rural livelihoods and facilitate equitable, environmentally, socially and economically sustainable development through the generation of, access to, and use of agricultural knowledge, science and technology?"

For several decades, the World Bank had seriously neglected investments in the agricultural sector. The IAASTD was hence set up to take stock of global agricultural knowledge and evaluate where and how the World Bank could best invest in the agricultural development of the poorest countries. The aim was to find out which future approaches should be adopted by the 15 international agricultural research centres (CGIAR) administered by the World Bank and which role the controversial technique of genetic engineering should play in feeding the world’s hungry.

Professor Robert T. Watson, the then chief scientist at the World Bank, became the director of and driving force behind the IAASTD. In the 1980s, he initiated NASA’s groundbreaking report on ozone depletion and from 1997 to 2002 he was Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The structure and functioning of the IAASTD were very similar to the IPCC but with one fundamental difference: While the IPCC was only managed by government representatives, the participating states and UN institutions set up a Bureau for the IAASTD, comprising of 30 government representatives and 30 representatives from civil society. The latter included companies such as Syngenta and Unilever, and scientific institutions worked side by side with farmers, consumer groups and NGOs, such as Greenpeace and the Pesticide Action Network. This Bureau agreed on the basic questions to be answered and jointly selected the authors of the report, taking great care to achieve a well-balanced representation of all continents and genders, and different disciplines and backgrounds. >>more

Institutions

  • IAASTD International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development
    Original reports of the IAASTD
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
    IPCC website
  • Millennium Ecosystem Assessment From 2001 to 2005, more than 1,360 experts assessed the consequences of ecosystem change for human well-being
  • CGIAR Consultative group of strategic members, partners and agricultural centres working on international agricultural research
  • World Bank committed to boosting agriculture and agriculture-related investment

The 58 signatory states

Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Botswana, Brazil, Cameroon, China (People’s Republic of), Costa Rica, Cuba, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Ghana, Honduras, India, Iran, Ireland, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Lebanon, Libya, Maldives, Republic of Moldova, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Philippines, Poland, Republic of Palau, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Solomon Islands, Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland, United Republic of Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, United Kingdom of Great Britain, Uruguay, Viet Nam, Zambia (58 countries)

Literature

Video: IAASTD Report

Click on the image to watch the video
Click on the image to watch the video

Graphics

The UNEP's GRID Arendal collection offers a selection of charts and tables from the IAASTD

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Donors

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