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 evidence-based;   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 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 individu-


als. 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 (2008); 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 organizations have provided in-kind support. The authors and review editors have given freely of their time, largely without compensation.
     The Global and Sub-Global Summaries for Decision Makers and the Synthesis Report are written for a range of stakeholders, i.e., government policy makers, private sector, NGOs, producer and consumer groups, international orga­nizations and the scientific community. There are no recom­mendations, only options for action. The options for action are not prioritized because different options are actionable by different stakeholders, each of whom have a different set of priorities and responsibilities and operate in different socioeconomic and political circumstances.