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History

Originally established in 1983 to deal with plant genetic resources, the FAO Conference broadened the Commission’s mandate in 1995 to cover all components of biodiversity of relevance to food and agriculture.

The Commission is the only permanent intergovernmental body that specifically addresses biological diversity for food and agriculture. The Commission aims to reach international consensus on policies for the sustainable use and conservation of genetic resources for food and agriculture and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits derived from their use.

The Commission offers a unique platform for its members and other stakeholder promoting a world without hunger by fostering the use and development of the whole portfolio of biodiversity important to food security and rural poverty.

With its more than 170 members the Commission holds each biennium a regular session. It may also decide to convene extraordinary sessions as necessary, subject to the approval of the FAO Council.

The Secretariat of the Commission prepares its regular and extraordinary sessions and follows up on the Commission’s requests during the intersessional periods. The Secretariat also supports the work of the Commission’s subsidiary bodies, such as the Commission’s intergovernmental technical working groups.

Since its establishment, the Commission has overseen and guided the preparation of global sectoral and cross-sectoral assessments of genetic resources for food and agriculture and negotiated major instruments, including the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

Timeline