On 22–23 February 2016, the first meeting of the Food and Agriculture Organization’s (FAO) Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) Scientific Advisory Group was held at FAO Headquarters in Rome.
Based on UNU research contributions to the development of GIAHS in Asia — in particular Japan and the Republic of Korea — UNU Senior Vice-Rector Kazuhiko Takeuchi was appointed as a member of the seven-person advisory group, which provides scientific guidance to the GIAHS designation process. The meeting included discussions on draft guidelines for GIAHS designations, of which there are currently 36 sites in 15 countries.
In her opening remarks at the meeting, FAO Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo emphasised the leadership role expected from the advisory group members, stating, “what we need now is to share best practices to facilitate the exchange of knowledge among countries, among communities, and this is the kind of contribution we are expecting from members of the GIAHS Scientific Advisory Group.”
From 2012 to 2015, the UNU Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) project “Developing a Comprehensive Assessment Method for Ingenious ‘Agri-Cultural’ Systems in Japan” assessed ingenious traditional agricultural systems in East Asia, produced recommendations for policymakers, and provided technical advice to stakeholders on their GIAHS applications. The UNU-IAS team assisted most of the candidate sites in Japan with their GIAHS applications, and provided technical advice for the first two sites in the Republic of Korea. The project also promoted international collaboration on research of agricultural heritage systems, building a GIAHS network in Asia.