The issue of biodiversity loss is attracting increasing attention worldwide. Yet, information related to biodiversity, particularly in the context of food and agriculture, can be challenging to communicate. Based on information found in FAO’s report on The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture published in 2019, this document provides simple answers to key questions about biodiversity for food and agriculture.

The new edition of FAO's international forestry journal, Unasylva, entitled Restoring the Earth - the next decade, underlines that considerable progress in forest and landscape restoration has been made in the last ten years.

To date, 63 countries and other entities have committed to restoring 173 million hectares – an area half the size of India – and regional responses such as the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) and Initiative 20×20 in Latin America are making significant advances.

However, the publication warns that much more needs to be done at the national, regional and global scale to meet commitments under the Bonn Challenge, which aim to restore 350 million hectares of degraded and deforested lands by 2030, and other international pledges.

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.

 Many environmental assessments of the livestock sector have not addressed biodiversity because of its intrinsic complexity. These guidelines strive to include biodiversity in environmental assessments, in order to increase the understanding of the impacts of livestock on biodiversity and to reveal possible synergies or trade-offs with other environmental criteria or Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Several indicators in these guidelines are also of relevance for the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.

Microbiome – the missing link? In search of the answers, an informal group of people got together first to look into the question about alternative explanations for the obesity and non-communicable diseases (NCDs) pandemic. A review of recent scientific literature showed how gut dysbiosis, an imbalance in the gut microbiome, is a common factor in obesity and various diet-related NCDs. A further search for factors that can cause dysbiosis led to the identification of a variety of possible causative factors, including lifestyle factors, use of antibiotics, diet composition, the presence of various chemical compounds in our food, etc. Some of these compounds can enter our food as agro-chemicals used during production, or additives used in processing and transformation. Others, like mycotoxins are the result of poor practices.

To enhance the knowledge base and support the uptake of good practices for ongoing work on adaptation planning, implementation and monitoring and evaluation of best adaptation practices, FAO organized a series of webinar sessions on “Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) in the Agriculture Sector” in 2017 and 2018. This document serves to outline the priority nature-based interventions for adaptation in the food and agriculture sector as articulated in countries’ nationally determined contributions (NDCs), and as illustrated through the best case practices showcased during the EbA webinar series.
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