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Climate change

Climate change affects ecosystem services and food production systems in many ways. It is a fundamental threat to food security, sustainable development and the eradication of poverty. It is expected to reduce agricultural productivity, stability and incomes in many parts of the world, and to become an additional stress and risk factor in areas already facing high levels of food insecurity.

Climate change poses new challenges to the management of the world’s genetic resources for food and agriculture (GRFA), but it also underlines their importance. GRFA underpin the capacity of crop, livestock, aquatic and forest production systems to withstand and adapt to harsh conditions. Safeguarding them and using them sustainably are key to maintaining our ability to achieve food security in a changing climate.

In 2009, the Commission at its Twelfth Regular Session,  recognized the need to address climate change in its Multi-Year Programme of Work., It requested FAO to conduct a scoping study on climate change and GRFA. This led to the preparation of  a number of sectoral studies (Background Study Papers 535455565760) and an overview publication entitled Coping with climate change – the roles of genetic resources for food and agriculture for food and agriculture

In 2015, the Commission endorsed the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Integration of Genetic Diversity into National Climate Change Adaptation Planning, the objectives of which are:

  • to promote the use of genetic resources for food and agriculture in climate change adaptation and support their integration into national climate change adaptation planning;
  • to support genetic resources experts and those involved in climate change adaptation to identify and address the challenges and opportunities of GRFA in adaptation; and
  • to promote the involvement of genetic resources stakeholders in the national climate change adaptation planning process.

In 2019, the Commission requested FAO to prepare a scoping study on the role of GRFA in adaptation to and mitigation of climate change, including knowledge gaps, taking into account the forthcoming special reports on terrestrial and marine systems by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other relevant sources, including examples from different regions and subsectors. The Commission requested its working groups to review the study and, if a global assessment of the role of GRFA is considered pertinent, to provide guidance to the Commission on its preparation.