077 The Role of Biodiversity for Nutrition Security

Exploring the importance of SDG2.5 and contributions for increased awareness


  • The Crop Trust
  • The Netherlands
  • SDG Advocacy Hub


This event will introduce the Food Forever Initiative, a multi-stakeholder platform for raising awareness on the importance of crop and livestock diversity for more resilient food systems. The Netherlands Government and the Crop Trust are jointly providing the secretariat function for this inclusive campaign composed of high profile Champions and a vast set of Partner Organizations.

The value of this biodiversity is well established amongst scientists, but unfortunately businesses, governments and consumers are mostly unaware of this vast spectrum of colors, flavors and traits for increased nutritional security and climate-resilience that exists in nature. Food Forever works to raise awareness in support of SDG 2.5 which calls on us all to ensure the conservation and effective use of the diversity of our foods. The event will highlight the role of crop and livestock diversity for breeding more nutritious foods. We will then seek input from participants to explore how we can effectively raise awareness for SDG 2.5 with new audiences and stakeholders. The task is urgent, as SDG 2.5 carries a deadline of 2020. This is a call to action for ideas, input and a request to all to consider 2.5 specifically in their formal SDG reporting.

Key speakers/presenters

  • Marie Haga – Executive Director, Global Crop Diversity Trust
  • Paul Newnham – Coordinator, SDG2 Advocacy Hub
  • Christian Abegan – renowned chef, TV personality and restaurateur
  • Stefano Padulosi – Senior Scientist, Bioversity International
  • Fabrice DeClerck – Senior Scientist, EAT Foundation (moderator)

Main themes/issues discussed

The discussions revolved around the importance of promoting more diverse diets to improve nutrition security and build more resilient food systems. In this regard, Ms. Haga signaled the importance that conservation of agrobiodiversity has for global nutrition security. She gave a few examples of how climate change and population growth can lead to more fragile agricultural systems, and how the wealth of plant and animal genetic resources conserved in the international gene bank system are essential to introduce more resilient varieties through in-breeding that can ensure continuity in the availability of food that is good for the population, good for the farmers and good for the planet.

To this, Mr. Newnham added that a central issue in the agrobiodiversity agenda should be to work with chefs. Given the recent years’ culinary revolution, chefs have gradually become the “superstars” of the era and have an enormous sphere of influence. They are capable of guiding consumption patterns in a much more impactful way than even some corporations. This is why the SDG2 Advocacy Hub launched the Chef’s Manifesto, a set of guidelines to which chefs comply that promote sustainable production and consumption, and more resilient and nutritious diets. In fact, the second pillar of this Manifesto is introducing biodiversity into the plate of food.

Mr. Abegan, a renowned Cameroonian chef who has had extensive gastronomic experience in France and a highly conspicuous TV personality, mentioned that since his debut as a restaurateur in Paris – one of the most competitive and innovative gastronomic scenes – he has been an advocate of promoting diversity in the plate of food. The Parisians who started visiting his restaurant Le Palanka, which was one of the trendiest spots to dine at the time, started tasting new leafy vegetables and tropical fruits native of Cameroon and which could be sustainably and seasonally sourced to France. This led to more local markets and retail stores to demand more of these produces, which led to a boost in production and farmer’s livelihoods back in Cameroon and other countries in Western Africa. Although demand can also have the effect of making some foods inaccessible for the producing communities, if promoted in an adequate and sustainable way it has the enormous power of providing a market for otherwise forgotten or neglected species.

Finally, Mr. Padulosi, an expert in neglected and under-utilised species (NUS) of plants, mentioned the quintessential importance of diversifying our consumption to include lesser known foods that can be much more nutritious and less climate-demanding than our usual staple crops. He said that although chefs are essential in this endeavor, local consumption and production might even play a larger role, so it is important to guide the NUS policy agenda at a local level. In this regard he signaled the importance of in situ conservation as a way of maintaining these species in permanent breeding in nature, making them stronger and more resilient. As a conclusion, Mr. De Clerck, the moderator highlighted the importance of diverse diets for more sustainable food systems. He also announced this would be a priority element of the EAT Lancet Report, a thorough expert study focused on global nutrition soon-to-be launched in January by the EAT Foundation.

Summary of key points

  • Diversity is key in the process of building more resilient and sustainable food systems.
  • To ensure the continuity of this diversity conservation efforts, both ex situ and in situ are essential.
  • However, to make the availability of this diversity sustainable, it is necessary to trigger demand; in this regard, chefs play a very important role.

Key take away messages

  • The participants agreed that a priority for 2019 was to launch a global Call to Action with chefs focused on increasing diversity in the plate of food.
CFS - Side Event 077: The Role of Biodiversity for Nutrition Security