26 | IAASTD Global Report

ing new tools and new techniques such as soil and water conservation or biotechnology. This may also comprise aspects of access to, control over and distribution of AKST, such as extension and dissemination efforts, credit markets and capital assets, and markets for information and knowledge. Species introduction or removal may be intentional or unintentional. Epidemics are increasing the vulnerability of plant and animal production in a globalized economy and are therefore also considered to be direct drivers.

     These changes may enhance the well-being of some people and diminish that of others; they may have beneficial effects in the short term but adverse effects over time (or the reverse), and they may have beneficial effects locally but adverse effects at larger scales (or vice versa).

Indirect drivers of change

Many indirect drivers result in turn from a variety of other indirect drivers. Demographic factors include total population and its composition and spatial distribution in terms of age, gender, urbanization, and labor, as well as pressure on land resources within a farm or between farms. Economic factors include prices and other market characteristics, globalization, trade, land tenure and access regulations, agribusiness, credits, markets, and technology. Sociopolitical factors include governance, formal and informal institutions, legal frameworks such as international dispute mechanisms, kinship networks, social and ethnic identity, and political stability. Indirect drivers also include infrastructure such as transportation, communication, utilities, and irrigation. Indirect drivers of science and technology include institutions and policy, funding for R&D, knowledge and innovations systems, advances and discoveries in biotechnology, intellectual property rights, communication systems and information technology, harnessing and adapting local knowledge, and local and institutional generation of AKST. Education, culture and ethics (e.g., in cultural and religious developments or choices individuals make about what and how much to produce and consume and what they value) may also influence decisions regarding direct drivers. Whether direct or indirect, some drivers may have cumulative effects that are felt only when a critical threshold level is reached, as for example when rising pollutant levels exceed a watershed's natural filtration capacity.

     Finally, improvements in AKST are driven both by factors that help generate new AKST as well as factors that encourage its adoption and use. Factors that help generate AKST include research policy and funding, intellectual property rights, and farmers' innovation capacity. Factors that affect adoption and use of AKST include extension services, education, and access to natural, physical, and financial resources. These will be explored fully in the chapters to follow.

Conditions determined by political, economic, social and cultural contexts

Agriculture and AKST are strongly bound to the human context in which they are embedded. For example, in the context of Switzerland, where the agricultural sector constitutes merely 3% of the tax-paying workforce, small-scale farmers with an average farm size of 16 ha which they may use for livestock breeding, will not generate sufficient in-


come for the family for a decent livelihood. Because of the importance of agriculture for nonproductive services such as cultural landscape preservation, recreation forests, and water management, Swiss farmers are paid by society for their environmental and social services, up to a total of over 50% of their income, thus reaching the minimum national income standard of about US$35,000 in 2005 (BFS, 2006).

     A farming household in Ethiopia, by contrast, typically survives on one hectare of cultivated land and some communal pastureland for livestock rearing. This family produces about one tonne of cereals and pulses per year, of which about 10-20% is marketed and the rest is used for home consumption. Such a household has to pay head taxes but only very marginally profits from investment programs by government or foreign aid. There are millions of farming households all over the world in the same situation, which have an average annual per capita GNP of less than US$200.

     Any assessment of the potential of AKST to contribute to more equitable development will thus have to take into account the political, economic, social and cultural contexts in which agricultural land users operate. Additionally, AKST assessments are inherently inter- or multidisciplinary and generate knowledge through transdisciplinary approaches.

Conditions determined by ecosystems, agricultural systems and production systems

The concept of ecosystems provides a valuable framework for analyzing and acting on the linkages between people and the environment (MA, 2005a). An ecosystem is defined as a dynamic complex of plant, animal and microorganism communities and their nonliving environment, interacting as a functional unit (UN, 1992). The AKST conceptual framework uses ecosystems as the broadest context within which agricultural production/farming systems are analyzed.

     The predominance of the "cultivated" ecosystem category for agriculture is immediately apparent in the table, followed by mountain ecosystems, which constitute 26% of the Earth's land surface, followed by forestland, covering about 30% of the land surface, as well as drylands, which constitute about one third of all land area worldwide. Together these land cover areas provide about 93% of agricultural products. It should be noted, however, that other services provided by agroecosystems will have a considerably different balance. An example is forests, which provide clean water, reduce flooding, offer biodiversity protection and recreational and spiritual value, which adds to the importance of the forests' production value.

1.3 Development and Sustainability Issues

1.3.1 Poverty and livelihoods

Eradication of extreme poverty and hunger is a key goal of the assessment. Progress has been particularly striking in Asia, but the proportion of people in sub-Saharan Africa who live in extreme poverty has changed little since 1990. Hunger is inextricably linked to poverty, and here again progress is evident but uneven, with reductions in Asia and Latin America partly offset by increases in Africa and the Middle East. Poverty and hunger arise out of the interaction