Central American Strategy for Rural Area-based Development ECADERT. Executive Summary

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1 Central American Strategy for Rural Area-based Development ECADERT Executive Summary The Central American Strategy for Rural Area-based Development (ECADERT) addresses the need by Central American societies to confront structural obstacles to attain national development in a sustainable and inclusive manner. Comprehensive development of their rural areas is therefore crucial. The socio-geographical, historically constructed spaces that we refer to as rural territories are closely linked with the cultural identity of the people and communities who live there. This Strategy is based on the urgent need to strengthen creative and innovative capabilities of the rural population, public institutions and organizations of civil society in the rural territories of the region, to establish inclusive mechanisms of access to development, leading to social and territorial cohesion. This is the ultimate aim of ECADERT. Strengthening territorial cohesion in each country and social inclusion within rural territories offers diverse and important potential benefits for societies in the Isthmus. They include the achievement of greater food security and sovereignty, sustainability, improving democratic governance and fulfillment of citizenship. The formulation and implementation of ECADERT is an initiative by the Central American Agricultural Council (CAC) and a mandate from the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Central American Integration System (SICA). It allows the region to effectively strengthen the integration process, guiding the establishment of long-term cross-cutting public policies and processes of Rural Area-based Development (RAD), with a joint approach and shared principles. In particular, it seeks to facilitate concerted actions for the development of cross-border areas and of territories with similar characteristics, issues and potential in several countries. The Strategy includes the seven Central American countries and its initial duration spans two decades: 2010 to It will be periodically reviewed, during its implementation, to make adjustments as required by changes in domestic and international conditions, or by the dynamics of its own development processes. The implementation of ECADERT will be extended to the Dominican Republic, a new member country of SICA. The process of formulation and revision of the ECADERT was broadly participatory, with 26 regional, national and area-based consultations in Central America, followed by seven national workshops for feedback, discussion and critical validation. The proposal was also discussed in virtual fora and underwent expert critique. More than 900 representatives of

2 numerous organizations and institutions participated in this process. Many of them were representatives of civil society in the broad sense, including traditional forms of organization of indigenous peoples and Afro-descendants, organizations of small and medium-scale producers, private sector organizations, NGOs and applied social research centers. Public institutions, including national and local authorities were also substantially involved. The information on this process and the proposal was shared with all organizations or persons interested through web sites, submissions by , printed documentation and formal presentations, and with public opinion via press releases and other media sources. The area-based approach of this Strategy focuses on sustainable development, in its multiple dimensions and interactions. ECADERT promotes social and territorial inclusion in the development process with active participation and input from all stakeholders of civil society, as well as area-based authorities, local governments and public institutions present in the territories. Vision, Mission and Objectives The Strategy is based on an overall vision on major trends of the challenges and potential of Central American rural areas, as well as the main concepts and general guidelines in this field. The Long-term Vision proposed to the countries of the region is: "The rural areas of Central America have significantly improved the quality of life, both human and of the ecosystems, through creative and decision-making capabilities of their population and the potentials of each territory, appreciating and respecting their cultural identity, with robust and integrated institutions responsible for inclusive and sustainable development at the territorial, national and regional levels." The Mission of the entities responsible for implementation of the ECADERT is to: "Guide and be the driving force, during the period , of the institutional, social, economic, cultural and environmental transformations required, with the active involvement of social stakeholders and public and private institutions in management of public policies in the territory, enhancing its cultural identity and its potential, and generating new opportunities for sustainable and inclusive development." The General Objective of the Strategy is: "To promote social participatory management of area-based public policies that are equitable and inclusive, building consensus on projects for the future of rural territories, together with planning and investment processes guided by a strategic vision for the institutional, social, economic, cultural and environmental transformation of rural Central America, propelled by the social and institutional stakeholders of the territories, enhancing their cultural identity and their potential to achieve sustainable development."

3 This objective will be attained by means of permanent support for innovation processes and transformation of the institutional framework of Rural Area-based Development at the regional, national and local levels, internalizing this approach and strengthening the development of rural territories, to significantly improve the quality of life of families, consolidate sustainable management processes, and secure the democratic trends in the Region. The five components: ECADERT addresses, in a complementary and inter-related manner, core aspects of the major aspects or dimensions of sustainable development, in five components. These components and their respective strategic objectives are: Institutions for Rural Area-based Development Strategic Objective No. 1: To renew, transform and strengthen the institutional and legal framework of organization of social actors in the rural territories and the integrated social management of RAD policies. Area-based Cooperation Networks and Social Fabric Strategic Objective No. 2: To enrich and strengthen the social fabric for the innovative management of rural territories based on dialogue and consensusbased policies, strategies and actions, involving all relevant actors and mobilizing informal networks and formal organizations of rural territories, as the driving force of the required transformations. Rural Area-based Economies Strategic objective No. 3: To strengthen, in an inclusive manner, the economies of rural territories, considering their potential, with the aim of improving the economic foundation of rural families and of area-based development, through sustainable productive activities and growing participation in value chains based on the territories, in accordance with their projects for the future. Area-based Cultural Identity Strategic Objective No. 4: To promote multiculturalism and strengthen the intergenerational transmission of knowledge and values in the Region, to promote and guide development processes of rural territories, thereby strengthening their collective identities and intercultural respect. Nature and Rural Territories Strategic objective No. 5: To foster improved environmental management of the rural

4 territory by social and institutional actors, adapting their practices to the requirements for renewal of ecosystems and biodiversity conservation. This involves innovation processes to mitigate the effects of climate change and adapt production systems, counteract the degradation and misuse of soils, reduce disparities between demand and availability of water for irrigation and human consumption, and address other socio-environmental challenges. Together, these components and their strategic objectives contribute to the achievement of the General Objective of the Strategy, as well as the proposed Vision and Mission. Cross-cutting Themes ECADERT proposes three cross-cutting themes that are part and parcel of all dimensions and components of Rural Area-based Development: 1. Equity and social inclusion in rural territories. As fundamental principles underlying the area-based approach, this theme permeates the entire ECADERT. Social inclusion is a human condition applicable to multiple aspects of life, and goes beyond overcoming material needs and insufficient income, addressing the various forms of exclusion experienced by social groups within the dynamics of rural territories. Equity, based on core human rights and social justice, seeks to ensure that all people, men and women, have equal opportunities for access to decent living and working conditions, recognizing ethnic diversity and age differences. 2. Education and capacity building. The continuous processes of capacity building, collective learning and social innovation are essential for Rural Area-based Development. Therefore, strengthening of abilities and skills, human talent and capacities is a permanent activity in all facets of this Strategy. To enable the inhabitants of the territories to generate new opportunities and effectively benefit from the existing ones, it is essential to strengthen the capabilities of persons, institutions and organizations in the management of their territories. 3. Knowledge Management, as a resource for rural area-based development. The formulation, implementation and evaluation of ECADERT require networks and mechanisms for participatory management of knowledge and information at the territorial, national, cross-border and regional levels. It is also necessary to allow the social and institutional actors in the rural territories to take ownership of and use information and knowledge, and to support the systematization and exchange of experiences among those involved in the RAD process. For each component and theme, ECADERT proposes a set of transformations and strategic lines of action in the main dimensions of sustainable development, to be achieved through basic and complementary measures contained in the Regional and National Action Plans. During the initial phase of the Strategy, countries will define a limited number of "focal territories", where inter-thematic and inter-institutional efforts will focus. This will provide concrete experience and learning, whose systematic assessment and dissemination will

5 feed development processes in other territories linked to relevant national or regional processes. This will, among other things, generate: (a) Opportunities to exchange experience and knowledge. (b) Scenarios for capacity building. (c) A terrain for practical application of social area-based management processes. (d) A field laboratory to scale-up and influence public policies. (e) A means to define institutional mechanisms that underpin successful implementation. The key to success Success of this Strategy depends, in part, on the quantity and quality of partners and available resources for the development of ECADERT, together with solid partnerships based on shared objectives. Social and institutional actors of territories must be the protagonists, primarily responsible for their own development, in conjunction with public institutions of the country and other national actors, with support from technical and financial cooperation agencies. Countries should allocate substantial resources of their national budget for investment in public goods and processes that are conducive to rural area-based development, and the organs of the Central American Integration System should mobilize international resources and support regional and cross-border processes, as well as in territories with similar characteristics, issues and potentials in several countries of the isthmus. ECADERT proposes a "society for development", with bilateral and multilateral donors, global funds, and organs of the integration process, as well as States and civil society organizations, with the aim of mobilizing the resources needed to give a decisive impetus to the required transformations. The Strategy provides for a set of mechanisms for institutionalization, planning and execution, social audit, monitoring, evaluation and learning during the execution of ECADERT.

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