21 December 2006, Rome:
Yesterday’s UN General Assembly decision declaring 2009 the International Year of Natural Fibres will contribute to the Millennium Development Goals by further developing the efficiency and sustainability of these agricultural industries that employ millions of people in some of the world’s poorest countries, according to FAO.
The UN decision follows a request by the biennial Conference of FAO in November 2005.
Millions of people around the world, among them some of the poorest people in some of the poorest countries, depend on the production and processing of natural fibres for their livelihood. Natural fibres contribute to food security and economic development for these farmers.
To raise awareness
The International Year of Natural Fibres will raise consumer awareness of natural fibres and strengthen demand for natural fibre products, improving the livelihoods of the farmers who produce them and revenues for countries that export them, says FAO. At the same time, promoting the use of natural fibres will enhance the environment.
The wide range of natural fibres includes cotton, wool, jute, flax, silk, sisal, coconut fibre and many others. Some are produced from plants, others from animals, and they are used in clothing and other consumer goods, as well as in industrial applications. Virtually every country in the world produces some natural fibres.
According to FAO, there is almost no limit to the type of activities that might form part of the International Year of Natural Fibres. Fashion shows, exhibitions, conferences, production of TV documentaries and books, and competitions for schoolchildren could all be developed in the many countries expected to take part.
Under the general guidance of an International Steering Committee, FAO would be the coordinator of activities in the Year of Natural Fibres, with many activities being undertaken by partner organizations. FAO is now seeking funding from donor countries and organizations to finance activities in support of the International Year of Natural Fibres 2009.
FAO Press Room