Climate change, energy and food
High-Level Conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy Rome, 3-5 June 2008


Workshop on Climate Change and Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture

Date: 13 and 14 February, 2008

Organized by FAO and Bioversity International
in partnership with
the Platform of Agrobiodiversity Research and
the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity


While agricultural biodiversity will be significantly affected by climate change it will also be an important element in the development of agricultural production strategies to meet the challenges of climate change. The diversity present in agricultural ecosystems constitutes a central element in the livelihoods of many rural communities and indigenous peoples throughout the world and is likely to be a key part of their management of the challenges they face from climate change.

With climate change, the value of genetic resources for food and agriculture will increase in the near future. Many of these resources will become more threatened, as global climate change may erode biodiversity and destabilize food ecosystems significantly. At the same time, the genetic resources used by the forestry, fisheries and agricultural sectors will become ever more crucial in developing adaptation strategies to confront climate change, so as to ensure the sustained increase that will be necessary to feed the world and ensure rural development.

The vulnerability of tropical and sub-tropical agro-ecosystems, expected loss of species and genetic diversity, the need for enhanced agro-ecosystem resilience, and the necessity of climate change adaptation to meet changing production conditions are commonly referred to in discussions of climate change and agricultural biodiversity. However, the available knowledge of many of the critical aspects of climate change – management and use of biodiversity for food and agriculture links seems limited.  

The Fourth Assessment reports of the Working Group II of the IPCC entitled "Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability” 5 and of Working Group III entitled "Mitigation of Climate Change"6 highlight issues of concerns related to agriculture and ecosystem services but pay little attention to agricultural biodiversity perspectives. 

The impact of climate change on food security and biodiversity for food and agriculture, is at the center of current debates by the international community. FAO Members emphasized the importance of tackling this issue in the implementation of the Multi-Year Programme of Work of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) will also address the challenges for biodiversity conservation posed by climate change, and in particular with regard to agricultural biodiversity, at its next meetings, including at SBSTTA-13, to be hosted at FAO, and at COP 9,. The Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), in particular Bioversity, is placing ever-more importance to the subject in planning its future research agenda. The High Level Conference on World Food Security and the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy, therefore provides an opportunity to identify future areas of work and action for FAO and its partner organizations.

FAO and Bioversity International have joined forces to hold an expert consultation on Climate Change and Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture, in partnership with the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research (PAR) and the CBD Secretariat.

Key questions

The first day of the consultation, organized by the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research, will aim to explore current knowledge and experiences of the impact of climate change on agricultural biodiversity and of the ways in which agricultural biodiversity might help mitigate negative effects of climate change on agricultural production and the livelihoods of rural communities, including though adaptation. There will be discussions on adaptability, resilience, viability and dynamic stability of agricultural biodiversity in the face of climate change. Shorts presentations will focus on specific areas such as crop and animal farming systems; ecosystem services provided by pollinators and biological control agents; community experiences; lessons learnt from IPCC modeling results for agro-ecosystem management.

The second day of consultations will focus on developing long term strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources for food and agriculture, including forestry and fisheries. There will be presentations on the different domains of genetic resources (plant, animal, aquatic, forest,…) in relation to climate change (threats and potential use for adaptation), and also with an introduction to IPCC modeling results in relation to genetic resource management at local and international level.

Expected outputs

The outcomes of the consultation will feed into discussions at the FAO’s High Level Conference, including its Expert Meeting on adaptation and mitigation, and SBSTTA13 in an appropriate way. They will also inform discussions on future work of Bioversity International and of FAO, particularly the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

Outcomes of the workshop could include:

  • enhanced availability of scientific information for consideration at intergovernmental discussions;
  • identification of potential sources of information and research partners to support the implementation of FAO and CBD recommendations on climate change impact and response activities within both forums.
  • Identification of key elements of a response strategy, including through mainstreaming, capacity building, and priority setting.