Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture

Biodiversity provides the raw materials, the combinations of genes, which produce the plant varieties and animal breeds upon which agriculture depends. Climate change threatens biodiversity and impacts ecosystem functions, including those important for food supply. By the end of the century, climate change is expected to become the main driver of biodiversity. Then, the resilience of many ecosystems is likely to be exceeded resulting from changes in climate and associated disturbances (e.g. droughts, fire, pests, ocean acidification) and other global change drivers. These trends could exacerbate the vulnerability of millions of people who are already food insecure and have a low capacity to adapt to the changing conditions.

On the other hand, biodiversity in all its components (e.g. genes, species, ecosystems) increases resilience to changing environmental conditions and stresses. Thus, the value of genetically-diverse populations and species-rich natural and agricultural ecosystems will increase in future with the need for adaptation to climate change.


FAO hosts the Secretariat of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, where Members discuss issues and action plans for the conservation and sustainable management of biodiversity for food and agriculture and support capacity-building in improved management and conservation of land, water and genetic resources, agricultural water management, water use efficiency and productivity, and best practices for water use and conservation, through the continuum from water sources to final uses.

FAO also promotes the use of indigenous and locally-adapted plants and animals as well as the selection and multiplication of varieties and autochthonous races adapted or resistant to adverse conditions.


Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture 8 April 2013 This report reflects the conclusions of the Workshop and the analysis undertaken by FAO and Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research (PAR) over the past year. This Workshop, held at FAO in April, 2010, explored the different challenges that confronted agriculture and the options that existed or could be developed that would be needed to meet the challenges of feeding the world, coping with climate change and improving impact of agriculture on the environment. [more]
SELECTED PROCESSES AND INITIATIVES ON CLIMATE CHANGE OF RELEVANCE TO GENETIC RESOURCES FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURE 8 April 2013 This document compiles information on processes and initiatives related to genetic resources for food and agriculture and climate change. [more]

The present document introduces a proposed Roadmap on Climate Change and Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and provides an indicative estimate of the extra-budgetary resources required for the implementation of the Roadmap activities.

Invisible Guardians: Women manage livestock diversity 8 November 2012 This document has been prepared by M. Flitner, Professor at artec | Research Centre for Sustainability Studies, University of Bremen, Germany, and Dipl. Geogr. J. Herbeck, upon request of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in the context of the organization’sactivities around the High-Level Conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy, held in Rome from 3 to 5 June 2008. This publication presents an analysis of women’s role in the sustainable use, development and conservation of animal genetic resources. The importance of small-scale famers and pastoralists as custodians of these resources is well recognized, but has never previously been disaggregated by gender. The differential roles of men and women have largely been neglected in studies of animal genetic resources management, but by piecing together several strands of argument and indirect evidence it can be concluded that women are the main guardians of livestock diversity. [more]

last updated:  Wednesday, December 5, 2012