SE137 The contribution of Biodiversity Mainstreaming and a Nutrient Focused Approach to Sustainable Diets: Cross-sectoral policies and innovative approaches that support healthy diets and accelerate the progress on SDG2

Organizers

  • FAO
  • Bioversity International
  • International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
  • Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa (IFNA) Secretariat
  • African Union Development Agency � New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD)
  • Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

Sustainable diets contribute to food and nutritional security and healthy lives and are also protective and respectful of biodiversity and ecosystems. In this context, biodiversity mainstreaming and innovative approaches are crucial to tackle the triple burden of malnutrition (hunger, hidden hunger, and obesity) and in meeting Sustainable Development Goal 2.

Through biodiversity mainstreaming, biodiversity safeguards are integrated into policy, strategies, and practices. In 2019 alone, several global reports have underlined why biodiversity mainstreaming matters to deliver progress not just on SDG2 but to achieve all the SDGs. Three of note are the FAO's "State of the World's Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture", the CFS Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition, and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services' (IPBES) global assessment report.

Innovative approaches and practical solutions are also important relevant to improving livelihoods while contributing to sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity and healthy diets. One example is the Nutrient Specific Approach (NFA), which utilizes available scientific data to ensure that an appropriate level of nutrien intake. Focusing on the specific nutrient needed to address a certain dimension of the triple burden of malnutrition, this approach helps prioritize multi-sectoral interventions to improve nutrition. NFA is being developed and tested through the Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa (IFNA), which establishes a framework for collaboration with African governments to accelerate the implementation of their food and nutrition security policies.

Data are also essential to design and implement effective policies. Tools such as the Agrobiodiversity Index can help understand how much biodiversity is in our diets and markets, production systems and genetic resources for food and agriculture and if we are doing enough to sustainably use and conserve it. Based on the Index results, countries can understand how much they can build resilience for six risk areas by leveraging agrobiodiversity: malnutrition, poverty trap, climate change and variability, land degradation, pests and diseases, and biodiversity loss.

This side event will showcase policy, practices and tools at local, national and international levels, to achieve sustainable diets. In particular, it will present multi-stakeholder approaches to mainstream biodiversity, practices and tools to design effective policies and discuss how NFA could help formulate evidence-based policies through appropriate supply of nutrients at the country-level to achieve internationally agreed targets and in particular SDG 2

Key speakers/presenters

Opening remarks:

  • Stephan Weise, Deputy Director General Research, Bioversity International

Panelists:

  • Anna Lartey, Director for Nutrition and Food Systems Division, FAO
  • Hiroshi Hiraoka, Senior Advisor, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)
  • Roseline Remans, Senior Scientist, Bioversity International
  • Astrid Maria Jakobs de Padua, Senior Agricultural Specialist, World Bank
  • Rafamantanantsoa Andriamananipiarivo Hasina, Head of Coordination of Nutritional and Food Safety, National Office of Nutrition, Republic of Madagascar


Closing remarks:

  • Hideya Yamada, Vice President, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)


Moderator:

  • Paulo Augusto Lourenço Dias Nunes, Global Coordinator, FAO Biodiversity Mainstreaming Platform, Climate, Biodiversity, Land and Water Department

Main themes/issues discussed

This side event showcased policy, practices and tools at local, national and international levels, to achieve sustainable diets. In particular, it presented multi-stakeholder approaches to mainstream biodiversity, practices and tools to design effective policies including:

The Nutrient Focused Approach helping to formulate evidence-based policies and take actions for nutrition improvement through appropriate supply of nutrients at the country-level to achieve internationally agreed targets

The use of data measurement tools such as the Agrobiodiversity Index to mainstream biodiversity in projects, companies and at the national level.

Summary of key points


Stephan Weise, Deputy Director General Research, Bioversity International.  Mr. Weise opened the session conveying to the audience three main research–based messages:

Poor diets are world’s number one health risk: six of the top eleven risk factors driving the global burden of disease are related to diet, such as child and maternal malnutrition, high blood pressure, high body mass index and high cholesterol.  The causes and consequences of the dramatic reduction of food diversity and the simplification of diets are complex. One of the causes is that diets have narrowed because modern food systems and therefore diets rely on 5 animal and 12 crop species. When we lost agricultural biodiversity, we also lose the options to make our diets healthier and our food systems more resilient and sustainable.

Biodiversity to the rescue: a biodiverse food systems will not only improve dietary diversity for people, but also the health of the farming systems that provide food and income security for millions of people around the world. In this way, we will also safeguard biodiversity for the future and go a long way towards ‘ending hunger, achieving food security and promoting sustainable agriculture’ (SDG2).

How to mainstream it? We need the right policies, practices and tools at the local, national and international levels. The Voluntary Guidelines on Food Systems and Nutrition help governments to design public policies that support the shift towards healthier and more sustainable food environments but also recognize that there are many other stakeholders at the table, e.g. the private sector and consumers.
Nevertheless, policy decisions cannot stand alone: nutrition improvement must take into account agriculture, health, water, sanitation and hygiene, education and social protection, and be mindful of local context including environmental and biodiversity issues.

Anna Lartey, Director for Nutrition and Food Systems Division, FAO
Ms. Lartey explored in details the Nutrient Focused Approach (NFA) and gave some illustrations in the Africa context. In sub-Saharan Africa, the family farmers are the poorest and the most malnourished people. Staple crops give to the farmers more economic security and diversify the production of crops with other nutrient-rich food is not the best option for the way the food systems are conceived. NFA embraces different steps proposed by the Initiative for Food and Nutrition Security in Africa (IFNA):

To assess the nutrition situation of the community to determine the nutritional problems or deficiencies;

To determine what foods are available or grown in the community;
To determine the nutritional composition of the local foods based on the nutritional profiles of the communities
To promote nutrient-dense crop production and consumption that can respond to those nutritional requirements and needs.
Ms. Lartey shared with the audience some key messages of Expert Consultations held by FAO and WHO and the Guidelines on Sustainable Healthy diets and how these are related to biodiversity. Food systems are failing in delivering healthy diets and in sustainability. They cause environmental degradation and are responsible of the 20 to 30 % of GHGs. They are depleting the natural resources, as major drivers for deforestation and loss of biodiversity. The guiding principles are developed around the concept of sustainable healthy diets, which promote all the dimensions of individual’s health and wellbeing, have low environmental pressure and impact, are accessible, affordable and equitable, and are culturally acceptable.

Hiroshi Hiraoka, Senior Advisor, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).  Mr. Hiraoka explained that the NFA has been implemented by WFP and widely used by FAO before IFNA started to deploy it. Agricultural strategies usually lack indicators to measure of how much micronutrients (i.e.: iron) the sector is providing to the population. Working with 10 countries in Africa, IFNA is measuring how much micronutrients the sector is providing in order to get the data to find solutions to malnutrition. NFA requires policy makers to reflect the importance of the diversification of crops production and the shift to more nutrient rich crops into national policies. The key is building a strong connection between the health and the agricultural sectors, since the agricultural sector is yet recognized as the suppling source of nutrients able to respond to the need coming from the health sector. Furthermore, there is a urgent need to focus on specific nutrients to address nutrient-related diseases, such as iron for anemia, protein for stunting etc.

Roseline Remans, Senior Scientist, Bioversity International
Ms. Remans’ speech focused on how Agrobiodiversity Index tool could help to mainstream biodiversity into projects, companies and at the national level, to achieve sustainable food system. Agrobiodiversity contributes to SDG 2 along the whole value chain, from farm to fork. The food system element is really an important aspect that reflect the nutrition problem. Agrobiodiversity can provide a solution to multiple dimensions of the system. As an agricultural input, it provides options to farmers to manage risks, adapt to climate change and improve productivity. It also makes agriculture more sustainable by contributing to land restoration and halting biodiversity loss. In markets, more agrobiodiversity helps mitigate price fluctuations of specific commodities, benefiting both for farmers and consumers. In consumption, it provides a diversity of nutrients, necessary for a balanced diet and people's health. Tools such as the Agrobiodiversity Index can help mainstream agrobiodiversity in policy and decisions making in public and private sector. The Index is an action-oriented tool that allows food system actors to measure the status of agrobiodiversity and assess to what extent their commitments and actions are contributing to its sustainable use and conservation

Astrid de Padua, Senior Agricultural Specialist, World Bank
Ms. de Padua presented the Nutrition Smart Agriculture approach, developed by the WB, which aims to better integrate the agriculture production in national policies, following the example of the Climate smart agriculture. It is based on the nutrition sensitive concept, in order to get farmers to produce what people need in terms of nutrient requirements. For now, there are four countries at the forefront: the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Guatemala. The first stage regards the consultations of the country profile and specifically at the nutrition side, it can be deducted what are the needs and what are the main problems and at what it is produced on the ground, at the second stage is designing and simulating national policies in order to address farmers actions. Ms de Padua also explained that when some climate change grips happen in poor coastal areas communities- like sea water rise- the impact are huge and cover different social and economic aspects, not only the nutritional one.  When the water level rises, it brings a huge loss of land and biodiversity, as the water quality change, the resilience of fishes –one of the main protein resource to habitants- drops, a water sanitization problem and an increase of salinity in drinking water and soil.

Rafamantanantsoa Andriamananipiarivo Hasina, Head of Coordination of Nutritional and Food Safety, National Office of Nutrition, Republic of Madagascar

Ms. Hasina exposed all the important threats and boundaries in Madagascar to achieve food security and nutrition, while conserving biodiversity. The political orientation of nutrition in Madagascar has to manage and to harmonize the need for food with the need to protect natural resource in a strong adaptation programme, facing chronic malnutrition after years of severe and recurring drought.

Hideya Yamada, Vice President, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).  Mr. Yamada closed the side event welcoming the idea of a joined work of parties involved and he focused on the importance of the reciprocity of the roles of the health sector and the agricultural sector. While health sector should focus on the solution of nutrient-related diseases, the agricultural sector should focus on the prevention. Nevertheless, the recognition of these interconnected roles of health and agriculture is not immediate and easy to obtain in order to start really working together.

Key take away messages

The key take-home messages are:

  • Poor diets are driven primarily by the failure of food system management and of biodiversity conservation;
  • Agriculture has played a major role in the decline of biodiversity. Current patterns of agricultural development are undermining biodiversity and the many valuable services it provides.
  • High biodiversity is synonymous of ecosystem health, showing increased stability, increased productivity, and resistance to climate shocks.
  • We need to measure agrobiodiversity to sustainably manage it and devise appropriate conservation strategies;
  • Mainstreaming biodiversity into national policies means reforming economy-wide policies and reducing the market failures;
  • There are no healthy diets which not take into account the environmental sustainability aspect;
  • The urgent need for building a close collaboration between the health and the agricultural sector at national level in order to be able to respond to country nutrient-related diseases;
  • The Nutrient Focused Approach helps identify deficiencies of micronutrients at community level and respond to them by re-introducing in the diets and nutrient-rich foods that are culturally accepted and adapted to the local context to address nutrition gap in the community.  



CFS 46 Side Event: SE137 The contribution of Biodiversity Mainstreaming and a Nutrient Focused Approach to Sustainable Diets

 

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