Natural Resources
     and Environment

News, Publications & Announcements - Genetic Resources & Biodiversity

July 2013
Accenting the 'culture' in agriculture
Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems

Imagine a food basket filled with cereals from a Saharan oasis, potatoes from 4 000 metres up the Peruvian Andes or from a remote Chilean archipelago, and rice from steep terraced hillsides in China or the Philippines. All these foods come from Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems(GIAHS). These are food systems that have evolved over millennia in harsh and remote landscapes – and in extreme climates – thanks to the knowledge of indigenous people. FAO has identified some 200 of these systems around the world, hailing them for their contributions over the millennia and supporting them to make sure this knowledge is passed on to future generations.

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June 2013
30 years of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
Video

In 2013, the Commission on genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture celebrates thirty years. Reflecting over its role and its achievements, the Commission asked several partners and key stakeholders to share their views about the achievements and future priorities of the Commission. Learn more about the Commission, its role in the past and future and enjoy simple explanations of what genetic resources for food and agriculture are.

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June 2013
Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture

This report reflects the conclusions of the Workshop and the analysis undertaken by FAO and Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research 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.

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April 2013
World’s gene pool crucial for survival
On 30th anniversary of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, FAO underlines the urgency of safeguarding key genes that will help weather the shocks of climate change

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December 2012
Neglected crops need a rethink - can help world face the food security challenges of the future, says Graziano da Silva
"We must not lose track of our agricultural and culinary roots, nor the lore and wisdom of our ancestors," says FAO chief

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November 2012
Women are main guardians of crucial livestock diversity
New study argues that to succeed, breed conservation efforts must empower women

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June 2012
No sustainable development without eradication of hunger and extreme poverty
Joint statement by FAO, IFAD, WFP and Bioversity on Rio+20 Summit

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December 2011
Natural Resources and Environment Newsletter
December 2011 • Number 10

In this last issue of the newsletter for 2011, we introduce a new study on corruption in the land sector. The study was carried out by FAO and the Berlin-based Transparency International and it illustrates that the land sector is one of the main public sector areas where corruption exists. In climate change news, the world’s attention is focused on Durban, South Africa where the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change – including FAO - are meeting this month. And finally, we take a look at a new publication that examines the need to better link climate change adaptation and mitigation policies and programmes to genetic resources objectives.

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December 2011
FAO moves to halt plant genetic erosion
New impetus for global plant diversity

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August 2011
NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT NEWSLETTER
July/August 2011 • Number 08

In this issue, we look at a new publication entitled “Payments for ecosystem services and food security”. This document was produced as part of preparatory process for FAO’s participation in the Rio+20 event to be held in 2012. We also look ahead to World Water Week to be held 21-27 August in Stockholm, Sweden, where FAO will participate in a seminar anticipating the theme of 2012’s World Water Day – Water and Food Security. Finally, with the Thirteenth Regular Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture held at FAO Headquarters in July, we introduce some of the key areas where preserving biodiversity is essential to achieving food security.

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July 2011
SAFEGUARDING BIODIVERSITY
THE COMMISSION ON GENETIC RESOURCES FOR FOOD AND AGRICULTURE

Isses in the spotlight. The Thirteenth Regular Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture was held at FAO Headquarters 16-22 July 2011. Many issues were on the agenda, including approval of the Multi-year Programme of Work. In light of so many challenges threatening global food security, greater attention is being concentrated on the need to preserve biological diversity for food and agriculture. We take a look at some of the key areas where safeguarding biodiversity will be critical for the food security needs of future generations.

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July 2011
Payments for Ecosystem Services and Food Security

A healthy ecosystem can provide a variety of crucial services for public goods, such as clean water, nutrient cycling, climate regulation and food security — services that contribute directly or indirectly to human well-being. Yet today, many ecosystems are in decline; this is of particular importance to agriculture, which depends on ecosystem services. Loss of healthy ecosystems will seriously affect the production of food, both today and in the future. Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) is an economic instrument designed to provide positive incentives to users of agricultural land and those involved in coastal or marine management. These incentives are expected to result in continued or improved provision of ecosystem services, which, in turn, will benefit society as a whole.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Climate Change  -Genetic Resources & Biodiversity  
June 2011
CLIMATE CHANGE AND FOOD SYSTEMS RESILIENCE IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

This volume demonstrates the possibility of harmonizing agricultural production with the wellbeing of the biosphere – and that this can be achieved in Africa, our biosphere’s least developed continent, and the continent which is likely to suffer most from climate change. The work presented in this volume stems from a Conference on Ecological Agriculture held in Ethiopia in 2008. Through the discussions held during this Conference and field visits to Tigray, a region struck by hunger in the eighties and largely food secure today, participants shared insights on Africa’s potential for intensifying its agriculture through a better use of natural resources and ecosystem services.

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May 2011
Report on the Panel of Eminent Experts on Ethics in Food and Agriculture
Fourth session, 26-28 November 2007

Since its formation, the Panel has opened up the general discussion of ethical issues in food and agriculture. A major focus of attention has been the ethical issues arising in food and agriculture from economic globalization and the intensification of agriculture. A second and related issue has been the exploration of ethical aspects of the global emergency of hunger. The Panel has examined a wide range of specific topics including: ethical issues in fisheries; the ethics of food safety; ethical issues in food aid; ethical perspectives on animal welfare and the intensification of animal production; the issues surrounding global goods, global services and privatization; and intellectual property rights. This publication reports on considerations from the Panel’s fourth session.

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April 2011
Biodiversity Challenge Badge

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has teamed up with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity, the World Association of Girl Guides and Scouts and the Youth and Unite Nations Global Alliance to offer a Biodiversity Challenge Badge to young people willing to gain the knowledge, skills and values to protect, preserve and improve biodiversity. This publication introduces age-appropriate activities designed to introduce the concepts of biodiversity and to stimulate exploration through active-based learning.

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March 2011
Natural Resources and Environment Newsletter
March 2011 - Number 04

This month, we will be marking the annual World Water Day celebration on 22 March. This year’s theme is Water for the cities: Responding to urban challenges. In this issue, we look at some of the challenges posed to water resources by rapid migration and we consider one possible solution for improving the use of these resources. In this issue, we are pleased to welcome a new Executive Secretary to the Commission for Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and we also invite you to participate in a moderated e-consultation on Sustainability Assessment of the Food Chain, running through 25 March. The input gathered from this e-consultation will feed into the preparatory process for the Rio+20 Conference planned for next year.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Water Resources  -Genetic Resources & Biodiversity  
February 2011
E-consultation in preparation for Rio+20: Sustainability Assessment of the Food Chain

We are pleased to invite you to participate into a moderated electronic stakeholders' consultation on “Sustainability Assessment of the Food Chain” from 21 February to 25 March 2011. The aim is to seek views and share knowledge on a sustainability framework that includes core sustainability issues and a common set of performance indicators, based on the food chain sector practices. The outcome of this exercise will consist of voluntary international guidelines for food producers and retailers. To participate, just visit our website, log-on and join us in the discussions.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  -Climate Change  -Genetic Resources & Biodiversity  
January 2011
FAO@Rio+20 web site

Preparations are underway for 2012’s event marking twenty years since the Rio de Janeiro-hosted United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, commonly known as the Earth Summit. The newly launched FAO@Rio+20 web site will be updated throughout 2011 as preparations are underway with FAO’s detailed programme of work, studies and various initiatives related to the event.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Resources  -Water Resources  -Climate Change  -Bioenergy  -Genetic Resources & Biodiversity  
January 2011
NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENT NEWSLETTER
January 2011 - Number 03

Welcome to the third issue of the Natural Resources and Environment Newsletter. In this issue, we will be introducing the new Land tenure e-journal, which has just launched its first issue. This e-journal is dedicated to land-related issues, including land tenure. We will also learn about the recently issued report, the State of the World’s plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and we will introduce you to the new web site gearing up for the 2012 event marking the twentieth anniversary of the Earth Summit - FAO@Rio+20.

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For related information, see the following theme pages: -Land Tenure  -Genetic Resources & Biodiversity  
December 2010
The State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

This report provides a comprehensive picture of the global situation and trends regarding the conservation and use of plant genetic resources. It was prepared with the active participation of member countries as well as the public and private sectors. It describes the most significant changes that have occurred since the publication of the first report in 1998 and focuses on the major gaps and needs which will serve countries and the world community to set future priorities for the conservation and sustainable utilization of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

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December 2010
Countries meet to boost Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources
Ground-breaking benefit-sharing fund will help conserve and utilize threatened plant species

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December 2010
Gardens of Biodiversity
New FAO book celebrating traditional food production in the Southern Caucasus

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October 2010
Crop biodiversity: use it or lose it
FAO launches 2nd State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture report

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October 2010
Funding strategy for the implementation of the global plan of action for animal genetic resources

Adopted by the Twelfth Regular Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture October 2009 (CGRFA-12/09/Report-Appendix C). The objective of the Funding Strategy is to enhance the availability, transparency, efficiency and effectiveness of the provision of substantial and additional financial resources, and to strengthen international cooperation to support and complement the efforts of developing countries and countries with economies in transition in the implementation of the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources.

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September 2010
A Conceptual Framework for Progressing Towards Sustainability in the Agriculture and Food Sector

Sustainability is a broadly used term that is said to encompass three dimensions of the environment, economics and social sustainability. Although sustainable development is often presented within the theory of systems analysis, at present, there are no tools that provide a practical approach to assessing sustainability outcomes. This paper identified issues, targets and performance indicators for sustainability. It represents an initial effort by FAO and ISEAL to define a universally agreed framework for sustainability which is intended to be further elaborated through the Rio+20 consultative process.

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March 2010
Africa organic export drive
African farmers take advantage of niche sectors on international markets

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January 2010
Organic Agriculture and Carbon Sequestration
Possibilities and constrains for the consideration of organic agriculture within carbon accounting systems

This document discusses the opportunities and constrains of carbon accounting for organic agriculture management in developed and developing countries. Organic agriculture offers a unique combination of environmentally-sound practices with low external inputs while contributing to food availability. In developed countries, there is a steadily growing market for organic products, driven by the rising consumer awareness for health and environment, which offers farmers a chance to produce for premium price markets and hence, an opportunity to increase their farm profitability and livelihoods. Recent studies have highlighted the substantial contribution of organic agriculture to climate change mitigation and adaptation.

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November 2009
Renewed commitment to end hunger
Summit declaration vows better governance, increased investment and proactive climate change strategy

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September 2009
WORLD SUMMIT ON FOOD SECURITY

The global food insecurity situation has worsened and continues to represent a serious threat for humanity. With food prices remaining stubbornly high in developing countries, the number of people suffering from hunger has been growing relentlessly in recent years. The global economic crisis is aggravating the situation by affecting jobs and deepening poverty. FAO estimates that the number of hungry people could increase by a further 100 million in 2009 and pass the one billion mark. A World Summit on Food Security is scheduled for 16-18 November 2009 to address these issues and to agree on key actions to tackle this crisis. The Summit web site contains all information related to the upcoming Summit and the events leading up to it.

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July 2009
FAO initiates debate on declaration for World Summit on Food Security
Calls for eradication of hunger by 2025 and for more investment in agriculture

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July 2009
Saudi Arabia to fund FAO World Food Security Summit
November meeting to discuss eradication of hunger

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July 2009
Low Greenhouse Gas Agriculture
Mitigation and adaptation potential of sustainable farming systems

Is low greenhouse gas emission (GHG) agriculture possible? Is it, in fact, desirable? In seeking answers to these two basic but extremely relevant questions, this study examines current farming practices and incorporates scientific databases from long‑term field experiments as case studies for low GHG agriculture. Further, the study examines the changes that will be needed for low greenhouse gas agriculture systems to become a reality. It also elucidates the adaptive capacity of agro-ecological farming system approaches, using organic system case studies from the scientific literature.

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June 2009
Reward for conserving crops
11 projects announced in Tunis to receive grants from treaty on food plant genes

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June 2009
First fruits of plant gene pact
Delegates from 120 nations in Tunis to share benefits of treaty on food plant genes

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May 2008
Biodiversity to curb world's food insecurity
Global conference on biological diversity in Bonn

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February 2008
“Biodiversity is vital for human survival and livelihoods,”
FAO Deputy Director-General says James G. Butler calls for “urgent remedial action” against hunger and rural poverty

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December 2007
People and animals
Traditional livestock keepers: Guardians of domestic animal diversity

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December 2007
Climate change causing species disappearance in mountain areas
Fresh water, animal and plant species threatened

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December 2007
Organic agriculture can contribute to fighting hunger
But chemical fertilizers needed to feed the world

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November 2007
Paying farmers to protect the environment?Paying farmers to protect the environment?
FAO publishes The State of Food and Agriculture 2007

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October 2007
International plant gene pool becomes operational
Multilateral system boosts the exchange of plant genetic material

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September 2007
Global plan of action for animal genetic resources adopted
Agreement reached on implementation and financing provisions

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September 2007
FAO sounds alarm on loss of livestock breeds
Calls for urgent action to better manage and use farm animal resources, safeguard world food supply

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July 2007
Benefits and limits of an important biotech tool
FAO publishes study on marker-assisted selection

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June 2007
Farm animal diversity under threat
One breed lost a month – industrial livestock production biggest factor

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June 2007
The next frontier in genetic research: under water
Countries to discuss managing the world's aquatic genetic resources

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May 2007
Meeting the food security challenge through organic agriculture
States should integrate organic agriculture objectives within national priorities, FAO says

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January 2003
Organic agricultural environment and food security

The term "organic agriculture" refers to a process that uses methods respectful of the environment from the production stages through handling and processing. Organic production is not merely concerned with the final product which reaches the consumer. One of the main sources of general principles and requirements applied to organic agriculture at the international level is the Codex Alimentarius Guidelines for the Production, Processing, Labelling and Marketing of Organically Produced Foods. According to Codex: "Organic agriculture is a holistic production management system which promotes and enhances ecosystem health, including biological cycles and soil biological activity. Organic agriculture is based on minimising the use of external inputs, avoiding the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Organic agriculture practices cannot insure that products are completely free of residues, due to general environmental pollution. However, methods are used to minimize pollution of air, soil and water. Organic food handlers, processors and retailers adhere to standards to maintain the integrity of organic agriculture products. The primary goal of organic agriculture is to optimize the health and productivity of interdependent communities of soil life, plants, animals and people.

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August 2001
Organic Agriculture in Senegal

Senegal is a country in the Sahel of 219.253 km², with a population nearing 9,240,000 inhabitants (1999). The agricultural sector is comprised of 6,990,000 inhabitants (1999), almost 75% of the population. The annual growth rate is 2.6% (1998). Agriculture plays a predominant role in the socioeconomic life of Senegal. The rural population active in agriculture represents 73.7% of the total Senegalese population active in the agricultural sector (2000). From 1990-95, agriculture contributed 20.8% to the gross domestic product (GDP): 10.6% for agriculture, 7.6% for animal breeding, 2.1% for fishing and 0.5% for forestry. Agriculture faces a number of ecological constraints, which vary from region to region. Some of these constraints include: salinity, acidity, erosion, wind erosion of the soil, unavailability of land for grazing, overgrazing, deforestation (resulting from population growth and from the destruction of land cover), desertification and the risk of a loss of equilibrium between freshwater and salt water. These problems, many of which are the result of poor agricultural management, are compounded by the precarious nature of the climate (weak and irregular rains) and threatened by agricultural exploitation. Furthermore, land degradation and a general threat to natural resources pose additional problems. At the social level, the policies ...

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June 2001
World Summit on Sustainable Development
Johannesburg 2002

The Johannesburg summit is a follow-up of the first Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. The Earth Summit represented a turning point in the way we look at environment and development; world leaders adopted Agenda 21, a blue print to attain sustainable development in the 21st century.FAO is task manager for many of the land-related chapters of Agenda 21, chiefly, chapter 10 (Integrated Planning and Management of Land Resources), chapter 11 (Combating Deforestation), chapter 13 (Sustainable Mountain Development) and on chapter 14 (Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development: SARD). It is also a major partner in the implementation of several chapters of Agenda 21, notably, chapters 12 (Combating Desertification and Drought), 15 (Biological Diversity), 17 (Oceans and Seas) 18 (Freshwater) and 19 (Toxic Chemicals). FAO is actively involved in contributing to the Rio+10 process and particularly as regards the preparation of documentation for the intergovernmental process. FAO looks forward to Rio+10 as it will provide a unique opportunity to draw to the attention of world leaders some of the key challenges and opportunities the global community faces in the implementation of various chapters of Agenda 21 for which it is a leader and major partner. We trust the ...

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