18 | IAASTD Synthesis Report

This model drove the phenomenal achievements of AKST in industrial countries after World War II and the extension of the Green Revolution beginning in the 1960s. But, given the new challenges we confront today, there is increasing rec­ognition within formal S&T organizations that the current AKST model, too, requires adaptation and revision. Busi­ness as usual is not an option.
     One area of potential adaptation is to move from an exclusive focus on public and private research as the site for R&D toward the democratization of knowledge production. Such an approach requires multiagent involvement to make accessible and available for exchange the skills of local pro­ducers. Another area of AKST innovation must lie with more explicit attention to issues that attend to the use of AKST, namely addressing the complex role of institutions, gover­nance practices and social justice concerns that enable or constrain the realization of development and sustainability.

The term multifunctionality has sometimes been interpreted as having implications for trade and protectionism. This is not the definition used here. In IAASTD, multifunctionality is used solely to express the inescapable interconnectedness of ag­riculture's different roles and functions. The concept of multi-functionality recognizes agriculture as a multi-output activity producing not only commodities (food, feed, fibers, agrofuels, medicinal products and ornamentals), but also non-commod­ity outputs such as environmental services, landscape ameni­ties and cultural heritages. The working definition proposed by OECD, which is used by the IAASTD, associates multifunctionality with the particu­lar characteristics of the agricultural production process and its outputs; (1) multiple commodity and non-commodity out­puts are jointly produced by agriculture; and (2) some of the non-commodity outputs may exhibit the characteristics of ex­ternalities or public goods, such that markets for these goods function poorly or are nonexistent. The use of the term has been controversial and contested in global trade negotiations, and it has centered on whether "trade-distorting" agricultural subsidies are needed for agri­culture to perform its many functions. Proponents argue that current patterns of agricultural subsidies, international trade and related policy frameworks do not stimulate transitions toward equitable agricultural and food trade relation or sus­tainable food and farming systems and have given rise to per­verse impacts on natural resources and agroecologies as well as on human health and nutrition. Opponents argue that at­tempts to remedy these outcomes by means of trade-related instruments will weaken the efficiency of agricultural trade and lead to further undesirable market distortion; their preferred approach is to address the externalized costs and negative impacts on poverty, the environment, human health and nutri­tion by other means.


     A conception of AKST that includes regulatory frame­works, institutional arrangements, market relations and knowledge in a global economy is reflected in this report. This approach appreciates diverse interests and concerns across a range of agricultural production systems and ag­ricultural producers, including conventional or productiv-ist strategies, agroecological approaches, and indigenous or traditional peasant practices. The IAASTD thus uses the lens of multifunctionality to assess the contribution of AKST to development and sustainability.
     In this Report we highlight options drawn from a com­parative analysis of the Global and Sub-Synthesis Reports (CWANA, ESAP, LAC, NAE and SSA) into two thematic areas: (1) current conditions and major challenges, and (2) options for action.

1. Current Conditions and Challenges
Agriculture and the knowledge systems that are relevant to the sector now face an impasse. There are tremendous achievements in science and production, yet some of the un­intended consequences of these very achievements have not been sufficiently addressed. To address these consequences it is important to account for the prevalent inequalities that characterize relations between regions and countries as well as within them. We, as global citizens have little time to lose.
     Today we find a world of asymmetric development, un­sustainable natural resource use, and continued rural and urban poverty. There is general agreement about the cur­rent global environmental and development crisis. It is also known that the consequences of these global changes have the most devastating impacts on the poorest, who histori­cally have had limited entitlements and opportunities for growth.

AKST and agricultural change. Agricultural productivity and production have increased steadily in response to sev­eral drivers of change, including the generation and applica­tion of AKST. While in North America and Europe (NAE) this phenomenon has been ongoing since the 1940s, in other regions of the world such growth only began in the 1960s, 70s or 80s. In some parts of developing countries formal AKST is yet to make its presence felt as a major driver of agrarian change. The pace of technology generation and adoption has been highly uneven. One region, the NAE, continues to dominate in the volume and variety of agricul­tural exports, extended value chains and the generation of agricultural technologies (high-yielding varieties, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and mechanization technologies)  as well as recent advances in organic and sustainable produc­tion which have helped shape the policies and organizations of AKST in the other regions. While globally, there is an urgent need to revitalize and strengthen AKST, the critical regional differences in agroecosystems, access to formal S&T and diverse impacts on people and ecosystems, pose a challenge to the continuing dominance of a uniform type of formal AKST. The current global system pits small-scale, largely subsistence farmers in rainfed agricultures against farmers who during the past century have been assisted to increasingly capture economies of scale by specialization and externalizing social and environmental costs.