Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
Cross-sectorial matters





Targets and indicators for biodiversity for food and agriculture

The Commission recognizes the importance of developing targets and indicators for biodiversity for food and agriculture that promote coherence and cooperation among international fora and organizations and reduce the reporting burden on countries. The Commission has decided to take a leading role in the development and use of international targets and indicators for biodiversity for food and agriculture and has requested FAO to continue working in this field in cooperation with other relevant organizations and has integrated work on targets and indicators as part of its Multi-Year Programme of Work.

Within the context of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 twenty targets (the Aichi Biodiversity Targets) have been established, and indicators are being developed to monitor progress toward their achievement. The conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources for food and agriculture are particularly recognized in Aichi Target 13: “By 2020, the genetic diversity of cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and of wild relatives, including other socio-economically as well as culturally valuable species, is maintained, and strategies have been developed and implemented for minimizing genetic erosion and safeguarding their genetic diversity.”

FAO is actively contributing to the development, testing and application of targets and indicators related to biodiversity for food and agriculture at the genetic level – and where relevant at species and ecosystem levels – including as a partner of the Biodiversity Indicators Partnership. These targets and indicators are used to monitor both the state of genetic resources and the level of implementation of the Global Plans of Action developed for the various sectors of genetic resources. This work is conducted in the context of the implementation of the Global Plans of Action and is therefore at different stages of development in the various sectors.

Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

The Commission, at its Fourteenth Regular Session in 2013, adopted 63 indicators for monitoring the implementation of the 18 priority areas of the Second Global Plan of Action for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, and adopted the following three targets for plant genetic resources for food and agriculture:

  • Conservation Target: By 2020, an increasing proportion of the genetic diversity of cultivated plants and their wild relatives, as well as of wild food plant species is maintained in situ, on farm and ex situ in a complementary manner.
  • Sustainable Use Target: By 2020, there has been an increased use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture to improve sustainable crop production intensification and livelihoods while reducing genetic vulnerability of crops and cropping systems.
  • Institutional and Human Capacities Target: By 2020, many more people are aware of the values of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture and institutional and human capacities are strengthened to conserve and use them sustainably while minimizing genetic erosion and safeguarding their genetic diversity.

Higher-order composite indices for each of the three plant genetic resources targets are also being elaborated. They will be based on data drawn from the indicators for monitoring the implementation of the Second Global Plan of Action.

Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture

At its Fourteenth Regular Session, the Commission agreed on indicators and related targets for monitoring the implementation and impact of the Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources.

Progress indicators for each of the four strategic priority areas of the Global Plan of Action and for each of the 13 individual strategic priorities for action that are mainly intended for implementation at national level, as well as for the state of collaboration and funding, are calculated based on data provided in country progress reports submitted to FAO. The first set of progress indicators was prepared in 2012.

Indicators for the state of genetic resources themselves will be calculated using breed population data entered by countries into the Domestic Animal Diversity Information System, as follows:

  • the number of locally adapted breeds;
  • the proportion of the total population accounted for by locally adapted and exotic breeds; and
  • the number of breeds classified as being at risk, not at risk and of unknown risk status.
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Forest Genetic Resources

The Commission, at its Fourteenth Regular Session, adopted the Global Plan of Action for the Conservation, Sustainable Use and Development of Forest Genetic Resources. Indicators for monitoring the state of these resources and the state of implementation of the Global Plan of Action are in preparation.

Nutrition and Biodiversity

Indicators on nutrition and biodiversity have been developed to raise the awareness of the role of biodiversity in addressing nutrition issues at national level. These indictors – one on food composition and one on food consumption – are counts of foods that are considered “biodiverse”, i.e. foods identified: 

  • below species level, i.e. identified as a variety, breed or cultivar (e.g. Musa paradisiaca var. Sapientum);
  • as wild foods (in contrast to cultivated or farmed foods); or
  • as underutilized foods (these foods are listed in the INFOODS list of underutilized species).

The indicator on food composition is a count of the number of biodiverse foods with at least one value available for a nutrient or bioactive component. It provides a rough picture of the global availability of compositional data for biodiverse foods.

The indicator on food consumption is a count of the number of biodiverse foods reported by a survey instrument. It shows the extent to which biodiverse foods are featured in food consumption tools.