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Biodiversity

Biodiversity is vital for social and economic development and fundamental for human survival. Biodiversity for food and agriculture includes the biological diversity present in or of importance to agricultural, pastoral, forest and aquatic production systems. It encompasses the variety and variability of animals, plants and micro-organisms at the genetic, species and ecosystem levels that sustain the structure, functions and processes of production systems. This diversity has been managed or influenced by farmers, pastoralists, forest dwellers and fisher-folk for hundreds of generations and thus reflects the diversity of both human activities and natural processes.

Conservation and sustainable management of biodiversity for food and agriculture requires a comprehensive understanding of the state and use of its components. With a view to improve this understanding, the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture requested FAO to prepare the first report on The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture (Report).

Prepared through a participatory, country-driven process, the Report provides an integrated description of the state of plant, animal, forest and aquatic genetic resources and also reflects available baseline information on the state of diversity of micro-organisms, invertebrates, vertebrates and plants that are found in and around production systems and provide important ecosystem services supporting food and agricultural production. The Report is a milestone in the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity, and will contribute in many ways to the achievement of Aichi Targets and more generally the Sustainable Development Goals. 

The Report takes full advantage of existing information sources, including sectoral assessments, and information provided by countries through the submission of national reports. Reports from international organizations, inputs from relevant stakeholders and thematic studies also contribute to the Report.

Outcomes of the report

Enhance knowledge of biodiversity for food and agriculture

The Report:

  • documents the state and trends of the world’s biodiversity for food and agriculture and of its conservation and use in an integrated way;
  • identifies major drivers and their impacts on biodiversity in and around production systems;
  • documents the links that are known between biodiversity for food and agriculture and the delivery of ecosystem services;
  • assesses the contribution made by biodiversity to sustainable production, resilience and adaptability, and the livelihoods and incomes of small-scale producers;
  • documents the state of institutional settings and of the measures in place in favour of the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for food and agriculture; and
  • identifies options to enhance, through improved conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for food and agriculture, food security and nutrition, ecosystem functioning, productivity, sustainability and the livelihoods of farmers, pastoralists, forest dwellers and fisher-folk.

Inform decision-making

The Report provides:

  • ways of mainstreaming biodiversity for food and agriculture into food security, rural development, climate change, and biodiversity conservation policy development;
  • the basis for the development of an integrated framework to upscale the maintenance and sustainable use of biodiversity for food and agriculture; 
  • information on strategies, actions and practices that can enhance the multiple benefits that diversity provides to production; and
  • information on valuing ecosystem services and ways of supporting the continuing role of farmers, pastoralists, forest dwellers and fisher-folk in the maintenance of biodiversity for food and agriculture, and of improving the contribution that it makes to their livelihoods