x | Preface

end users) and that it should also assess the role of institutions, organizations, governance, markets and trade.

     The IAASTD is a multidisciplinary and multistakeholder enterprise requiring the use and integration of information, tools and models from different knowledge paradigms including local and traditional knowledge. The IAASTD does not advocate specific policies or practices; it assesses the major issues facing AKST and points towards a range of AKST options for action that meet development and sustainability goals. It is policy relevant, but not policy prescriptive. It integrates scientific information on a range of topics that are critically interlinked, but often addressed independently, i.e., agriculture, poverty, hunger, human health, natural resources, environment, development and innovation. It will enable decision makers to bring a richer base of knowledge to bear on policy and management decisions on issues previously viewed in isolation. Knowledge gained from historical analysis (typically the past 50 years) and an analysis of some future development alternatives to 2050 form the basis for assessing options for action on science and technology, capacity development, institutions and policies, and investments.

     The IAASTD is conducted according to an open, transparent, representative and legitimate process; is evidencebased; presents options rather than recommendations; assesses different local, regional and global perspectives; presents different views, acknowledging that there can be more than one interpretation of the same evidence based on different worldviews; and identifies the key scientific uncertainties and areas on which research could be focused to advance development and sustainability goals.

     The IAASTD is composed of a Global assessment and five sub-Global assessments: Central and West Asia and North Africa- CWANA; East and South Asia and the Pacific-ESAP; Latin America and the Caribbean- LAC; North America and Europe-NAE; Sub-Saharan Africa- SSA. It (1) assesses the generation, access, dissemination and use of public and private sector AKST in relation to the goals, using local, traditional and formal knowledge; (2) analyzes existing and emerging technologies, practices, policies and institutions and their impact on the goals; (3) provides information for decision makers in different civil society, private and public organizations on options for improving policies, practices, institutional and organizational arrangements to enable AKST to meet the goals; (4) brings together a range of stakeholders (consumers, governments, international agencies and research organizations, NGOs, private sector, producers, the scientific community) involved in the agricultural sector and rural development to share their experiences, views, understanding and vision for the future; and (5) identifies options for future public and private investments in AKST. In addition, the IAASTD will enhance local and regional capacity to design, implement and utilize similar assessments.

     In this assessment, agriculture is used in the widest sense to include production of food, feed, fuel, fiber and other products and to include all sectors from production of inputs (e.g., seeds and fertilizer) to consumption of products. However, as in all assessments, some topics were covered


less extensively than others (e.g., livestock, forestry, fisheries and the agricultural sector of small island countries, and agricultural engineering), largely due to the expertise of the selected authors. Originally the Bureau approved a chapter on plausible futures (a visioning exercise), but later there was agreement to delete this chapter in favor of a more simple set of model projections. Similarly the Bureau approved a chapter on capacity development, but this chapter was dropped and key messages integrated into other chapters.

     The IAASTD draft Report was subjected to two rounds of peer review by governments, organizations and individuals. These drafts were placed on an open access Web site and open to comments by anyone. The authors revised the drafts based on numerous peer review comments, with the assistance of review editors who were responsible for ensuring the comments were appropriately taken into account. One of the most difficult issues authors had to address was criticisms that the report was too negative. In a scientific review based on empirical evidence, this is always a difficult comment to handle, as criteria are needed in order to say whether something is negative or positive. Another difficulty was responding to the conflicting views expressed by reviewers. The difference in views was not surprising given the range of stakeholder interests and perspectives. Thus one of the key findings of the IAASTD is that there are diverse and conflicting interpretations of past and current events, which need to be acknowledged and respected.

     The Global and sub-Global Summaries for Decision Makers and the Executive Summary of the Synthesis Report were approved at an Intergovernmental Plenary in April 2008. The Synthesis Report integrates the key findings from the Global and sub-Global assessments, and focuses on eight Bureau-approved topics: bioenergy; biotechnology; climate change; human health; natural resource management; traditional knowledge and community based innovation; trade and markets; and women in agriculture.

     The IAASTD builds on and adds value to a number of recent assessments and reports that have provided valuable information relevant to the agricultural sector, but have not specifically focused on the future role of AKST, the institutional dimensions and the multifunctionality of agriculture. These include FAO State of Food Insecurity in the World (yearly); InterAcademy Council Report: Realizing the Promise and Potential of African Agriculture (2004); UN Millennium Project Task Force on Hunger (2005); Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005); CGIAR Science Council Strategy and Priority Setting Exercise (2006); Comprehensive Assessment of Water Management in Agriculture: Guiding Policy Investments in Water, Food, Livelihoods and Environment (2007); Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Reports (2001 and 2007); UNEP Fourth Global Environmental Outlook (2007); World Bank World Development Report: Agriculture for Development (2007); IFPRI Global Hunger Indices (yearly); and World Bank Internal Report of Investments in SSA (2007).

     Financial support was provided to the IAASTD by the cosponsoring agencies, the governments of Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Ireland, Sweden, Switzerland, US and UK, and the European Commission. In addition, many