Biodiversity, Agriculture and Food: FAO’s work for sustainable food production, ecosystem health and resilient livelihoods

Monday, 24 February 2020 | 13.00-14.30 hours | Sheikh Zayed Center 

FAO Strategy to mainstreaming biodiversity across agricultural sectors 

Good Afternoon Excellencies, 

Distinguished delegates and guests, 

Ms. Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General, Climate and Natural Resources, 

Ms. Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Acting Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 

His Excellency Hans Hoogeveen, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations 

His Excellency François Pythoud, Chairperson of the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture 

Ms. Irene Hoffmann, Secretary of the FAO’s Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, 

Mr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, Member of the Alliance Board of Trustees 

Ladies and gentlemen, 

Biodiversity and nature benefits are at the core of nutritious and diverse food systems. Nonetheless, as highlighted by the IPBES Global Assessment Report, nature and its vital contributions to people are deteriorating worldwide, requiring transformative changes across economic, social, political, and technological factors. 

According to the FAO’s State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture, biodiversity for food and agriculture is also declining. More than 6,000 plant species have been cultivated for food, but fewer than 200 currently make major contributions to food production globally, regionally, or nationally. Only nine species account for 66% of total crop production. 

In this context, 2020 offers a unique and critical momentum to reverse these alarming trends and significantly step up commitments and actions for biodiversity mainstreaming. That calls for the integration of biodiversity concerns into all sectors, including into crop and livestock, forestry, fisheries, and aquaculture, known as the agricultural sectors. 

These sectors and actors have an essential role to play in the preparations for the upcoming 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) in Kunming, leading up to the adoption of an ambitious Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. 

FAO has a long-standing history of collaboration with the Convention on Biological Diversity, including through the FAO’s Biodiversity Mainstreaming Platform, and has also developed several instruments, guidelines, tools and other technical materials that integrate biodiversity concerns. 

Also, FAO has developed its Strategy on Biodiversity Mainstreaming across Agricultural Sectors. The Strategy is a result of an extensive consultative and iterative process involving FAO technical departments, divisions, Strategic Programmes, Regional Offices, Statutory and Governing Bodies, including the Conference, Council and its related Committees, Technical Committees, and Regional Conferences. Also, a series of regional and global consultations were hosted in collaboration with the CBD to inform the Strategy. 

Likewise, the Strategy has been developed in close consultation with our Members, which provided guidance and advice throughout the process. 

The Strategy aims at strengthening FAO's ability to enhance the capacities of its Members to support mainstreaming biodiversity across the agricultural sectors, establishing a set of operating principles, outcomes, and four overarching goals: 

(1) Promoting sustainable use and management of biodiversity, focusing on landscape and ecosystem approaches in agricultural sectors; 

(2) Conserving, enhancing, and restoring biodiversity, ensuring the continued provision of ecosystem services; 

(3) Promoting sustainable agriculture and food systems; and 

(4) Safeguarding the livelihoods of small-scale producers, indigenous people, and local communities - custodians of biodiversity, emphasizing the role of all relevant stakeholders. 

To operationalize it, an Action Plan is currently being developed through an inclusive and iterative process that will engage all of FAO and its members. It will address mainstreaming biodiversity between and within the agricultural sectors, in a coherent and coordinated manner. 

In conclusion, the FAO Biodiversity Strategy was developed to be aligned to 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and other FAO strategies, including the FAO Strategy on Climate Change, the Strategy and Vision for FAO’s work in Nutrition, the FAO policy on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples and the FAO Policy on Gender Equality. 

As Ms. Mrema pointed out last week “Biodiversity is food and food is people”. The FAO Strategy on Mainstreaming Biodiversity across Agricultural Sectors, and its related Action Plan, will incorporate this systemic perspective and contribute to the Post-2020 processes towards achieving the future that we want. Thank you so much for your kind attention!