Conference Shares Best Practices for Conservation of Traditional Agriculture in East Asia

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  • 2014•05•07     Xingua City

    On 7–10 April the UNU Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) co-organized the First Conference of the East Asia Research Association for Agricultural Heritage Systems (ERAHS) in Xinghua City, Jiangsu Province, China. The conference brought together experts from several East Asian countries to present scientific research and share best practices for conservation of agricultural heritage systems in the region.

    Some 200 participants included researchers, policymakers and local government officials from China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, as well as experts from UNU and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Participants presented experiences and lessons from sites designated as Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) by the FAO, and committed to fostering closer collaboration between countries in the region.

    In a keynote address Prof. Kazuhiko Takeuchi, UNU Senior Vice-Rector, emphasized that while traditional agriculture systems have survived over many centuries, proving to be highly resilient — ecologically, socially and economically — they stand to be replaced by modern agriculture, which may be economically lucrative in the short run but not necessarily sustainable in the long term. Observing that East Asian countries share many similarities in their agricultural systems, Prof. Takeuchi expressed his hope that ERAHS could be a platform for collaboration to address the impacts of ecological, social and economic changes on traditional agriculture and explore ways to enhance its resilience and sustainability.

    UNU-IAS has been actively promoting cooperation and exchange of research between East Asian countries related to agricultural heritage systems and conservation of GIAHS. This has focused in particular on China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, through the UNU-IAS projects Development of Comprehensive Assessment Method for Ingenious “Agri-Cultural” Systems in Japan (ACS) and Operating Unit Ishikawa / Kanazawa (OUIK). UNU has contributed to the inception of ERAHS through these projects, and Prof. Kazuhiko Takeuchi serves as one of its Honorary Chairs.

    Established in October 2013, ERAHS aims to contribute to the development of the FAO GIAHS Initiative and to the sustainability of agricultural heritage systems in East Asia. Its annual conference will be hosted by rotation in China, Japan and the Republic of Korea, with the second conference to be held in Sado City, Japan in June 2015.

    The findings, results and recommendations from the first conference will soon be made available in a final report. See the UNU-IAS website for a full conference overview, including keynote presenters and organizers.