Biodiversity

Publications

Plant genetic diversity is essential for food security, including to diversify our diets or adapt our crops to climate change. The future of agriculture depends on international cooperation for the conservation, exchange and use of a wide range of crops and their genetic resources. The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (the Treaty) is the FAO legally-binding agreement that brings together governments to meet these challenges. The Benefit-sharing Fund of the Treaty enables small-scale farmers to access a wide range of plant genetic resources that are adapted to their needs. As a result, farmers grow different types of crops and plant varieties that taste better and are more nutritious. The Fund promotes a more sustainable farming for farmers and the planet.

Biodiversity’s contributions to food security are often made more effective and reliable by the presence, or availability, of a range of different species and of genetically diverse populations within species.

Biodiversity, at genetic, species and ecosystem levels, is important for efforts to address the challenges posed by diverse and changing production systems, in promoting resilience, improving livelihoods and supporting food security and nutrition. Many practices and approaches improve diversification – using multiple species, integrating the use of crop, livestock, forest and aquatic resources, and conserving and managing habitat diversity at landscape or seascape scale.

Farmers, livestock keepers, forest dwellers and fisherfolk are managers and custodians of biodiversity. Family farms represent over 90 percent of all farms globally and produce 80 percent of the world’s food in value terms (FAO, 2014a). Over millennia, producers domesticated and selected the plant and animal populations that gave rise to today’s crop and livestock diversity. Traditional producers and indigenous peoples have a wealth of knowledge on biodiversity and its use in the supply of food. Although indigenous peoples constitute only 5 percent of the world population, it has been estimated that they manage or have tenure rights over about 40 percent of the planet’s protected areas and a similar proportion of its ecologically intact landscapes.

This brochure includes the contribution of genetic resources for food and agriculture to food security and to the achievement of relevant sustainable development goals.

The Technical Advisory Group (TAG) on biodiversity, hereafter called Biodiversity TAG, is composed of 25 international experts in ecology, biodiversity indicators, agronomy, life cycle assessment, livestock production systems, and environmental science. Their backgrounds, complementary between systems and regions, allowed them to understand and address different perspectives. 

The aim of the methodology developed in these guidelines is to introduce a harmonized international approach for assessing the impacts of livestock on biodiversity. The livestock sector is a major user of natural resources (land in particular) and an important contributor to pollution (e.g. causing nutrient losses, increasing greenhouse gas emissions), which makes it one of the sectors with the highest impact on biodiversity. At the same time, livestock production is one of the few sectors with not only negative but also positive impacts on biodiversity; therefore, the sector can pull two levers to improve its biodiversity performance – mitigate harm and maximize benefits.

The Strategy applies to FAO’s relevant work on crop and livestock production, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture (“agricultural sectors”) that are sustained by, or may have impact on biodiversity, ecosystems and the other services biodiversity provides. The Strategy aims to mainstream biodiversity across agricultural sectors at national, regional and international levels in a structured and coherent manner, taking into account national priorities, needs, regulations and policies and country programming frameworks. The expected result of the application of the Strategy would be to reduce the negative impacts of agricultural practices on biodiversity, to promote sustainable agricultural practices and to conserve, enhance, preserve and restore biodiversity as a whole.

Biodiversity is critical for safeguarding global food security, underpinning healthy and nutritious diets, improving rural livelihoods, and enhancing the resilience of people and communities.

The recent alarming findings on the threats of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation from FAO's 'The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture' and the global assessment report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, have put the agriculture sectors at the center of the debate on the future of the planet.

Against this background, the FAO Conference in 2017 welcomed FAO’s initiative to act as Biodiversity Mainstreaming Platform1  and requested FAO to facilitate, in collaboration with its partners, the integration of actions for the conservation, sustainable use, management and restoration of biological diversity across the agriculture sectors at national, regional and international level. 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8