Environment Conventions and agreements

Posted November 1997

Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations
Secretariat to the Convention
on Biological Diversity

19-20 June 1997

Technical Workshop on Farming Systems Approaches for the Sustainable Use and Conservation of Agricultural Biodiversity and Agro-Ecosystems:
Executive Summary and Conclusions

The Workshop was organized with the support of the Government of the Netherlands. The full report is posted at the Convention on Biological Diversity Web site (http://www.biodiv.org/sbstta3/sbstta3-i10.html - 190K file)

Executive Summary

1. This Technical Workshop provided the opportunity for the CBD Secretariat, FAO and IPGRI, together with representatives of the Government of the Netherlands, to consider how to address agricultural biodiversity (N.B.: Agricultural Biodiversity or agricultural biological diversity, in the terminology of FAO, includes activities in the fields of agriculture, animal husbandry, fisheries and forestry, incl. management of wildlife and protected areas) in an integrated and holistic manner. This involved consideration of different levels of agricultural biodiversity (ecosystems, species and genetic levels), and different sectors and sub-sectors (crop and wild plants, domestic and wild animals, insects, forestry and fisheries genetic resources and microbial organisms). The Workshop also considered cross-cutting issues, such as information exchange (the Clearing-house Mechanism - CHM), incentive measures, benefit sharing, access to genetic resources, financial mechanisms, as well as concerns of indigenous peoples, etc. These discussions were held in the context of, and with reference to, the Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) Conference of the Parties (COP) Decision III/11 on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Agricultural Biological Diversity, and other relevant decisions of the COP, the Rome Declaration and the commitments of the World Food Summit (WFS, PoA), the recommendations of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA) and the Leipzig Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (GPA).

2. Ideas were shared on the impacts (positive and negative) of trends in agriculture on agricultural biodiversity, and constraints and opportunities for the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity, and the equitable sharing of benefits, at different levels. Examples were exchanged of integrated multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary approaches, in terms of policies, programmes and actions. This led to discussions on appropriate mechanisms and actions at national and international levels including information and public awareness, as well as, legal, economic and policy measures to address the farming systems and ecosystems dimensions of agricultural biodiversity, both within FAO and with other partners, at all levels.

3. In addition to sharing of ideas, experiences and lessons learnt, the Technical Workshop further developed recommendations for actions addressing the above issues, in three areas:

These actions take into consideration the broadened mandate and recent recommendations of the CGRFA, and the scope of activities described in COP Decision III/11. They also build on the priority activity areas of the GPA. An important conclusion was that the CBD, particularly through its emphasis on the ecosystem level of agricultural biodiversity, offers a challenge for developing sustainable agricultural systems at the national and local level. In this context, it was recognized that more attention should be given to understanding and enhancing the genetic variety, within and between harvested and non-harvested plant, animal and microbial species. Also, more attention should be given to enhancing the complementary and synergetic relationships between species, and the sustainability, as well as the productivity (which has hitherto received more attention), of agro-ecosystems. This implies that a range of best practices should be identified and made available, with a view to their further development in an integrated manner in specific local situations. It was stressed, however, that an integrated approach must build on and complement sectoral activities. An integrated approach can promote better understanding of how the different disciplines perceive agricultural biodiversity and how they could contribute to sustainable agriculture, and needs to lead to improved collaboration between the disciplines.

Recommendations for Actions

i) It was proposed that increased information and awareness could be achieved through the dissemination of case studies; documenting and setting up a data retrieval system of existing knowledge and literature; surveying ongoing (field) work (identification, testing and appraisal of results) and making an analysis and objective comparison of systems of production with regard to agricultural biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. Policy and technical issue papers and training could be developed on the basis of these findings.

ii) At the national level, the conclusions focused on the mechanisms and processes needed to support countries. For example, a) the provision of guidance for conducting and harmonizing assessments of resources and of relevant sectoral and cross-sectoral capacities and priorities; b) the identification and enhancement of relevant legal instruments and mechanisms; and c) the identification of areas of focus in order to determine priorities for programmes and action plans for the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity at all levels and across all sectors. The need to set up mechanism for improved coordination between different national focal points for the range of international Conventions, Commissions and agreements (for example: the CGRFA, FAO, COP-CBD, GEF, WTO-CTE, and so on) was emphasized. There was consensus that an initial objective must be to encourage different sectors to meet and agree on the need to collaborate and establish mechanisms to ensure that agricultural biodiversity is properly incorporated into national instruments, for example, National Environmental Action Plans (NEAPs), National Biodiversity Strategies, National Agricultural Strategies and Plans and National Forestry Action Plans.

iii) At the international level, the meeting concluded that support to countries, in the identification, assessment and development of strategies and programmes, should be coordinated. In particular, that the COP should be asked to contribute ideas to the CGRFA on the scope of the next country-driven global assessment of genetic resources as a follow-up to the first report on the State of the World’s Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. This will require the development of agreed criteria and indicators and will need coordinated inputs by many different actors, including all relevant government departments, research institutes, farmers’ groups and NGOs. FAO and CBD agreed to strengthen cooperation on the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity, and will take various initiatives, through consultation and information exchange among others, in order to develop a joint work programme. In this process other relevant international organizations, such as the World Bank, UNEP, UNESCO, IPGRI, etc. will be invited to make their contribution. It was also recommended that there should be international cooperation on, and coordination of, approaches to funding agencies including the GEF to ensure adequate resourcing for the development and implementation of the multi-year programme of activities on agricultural biological diversity and the mechanisms needed for its development.

Conclusions of the workshop

4. The outcome of the Technical Workshop was a set of conclusions about actions needed in three areas in order to achieve integrated work on agricultural biodiversity: Increasing information and awareness; Support to Governments; and International level coordination. These actions took into account the three objectives of the Convention and the need for activities in relation to agricultural biodiversity on: i) assessment and monitoring, ii) conservation and sustainable use, and iii) economic and legal aspects. It also built on the priority activity areas of the GPA, in the context of the broadened mandate and recent recommendations of the CGRFA, as well as the scope of COP Decision III/11.

Increased information and awareness

5. Appropriate information should be prepared and directed to policy decision makers, technical staff, relevant institutions and local users of agricultural biodiversity including producers and consumers and, in particular, should identify opportunities for relevant work. The information could be in the form of:

6. Electronic and conventional media should be used to share information, including e-mail conferences, where appropriate, and through conferences and workshops at all levels.

Increased public awareness raising could focus around, for example, importance and specificities of agricultural biodiversity, marketing plans for the use of a wider range of agricultural biodiversity, and campaigns to highlight nutritional, cultural and aesthetic food qualities.

Table I: Increasing Information and Awareness
Proposed actions Timing Partners Considerations, risks and constraints
- Developing case studies on appropriate integrated systems approaches
-Documenting existing literature
- Survey ongoing field work (fair comparison of systems)
- New action/research field programmes

Now, as possible within resource constraints


Availability of scarce resources

Developing policy/position papers/guidelines on key issues, approaches and methods



Technical papers/training


Identification of local ‘champions’

Developing other media e.g., Internet



Conferences/workshops all levels to involve all actors

FAO and others

Ability to raise awareness

Marketing plan/campaign highlight nutrition and aesthetic qualities

Industry/Min Ag/ Consumer groups/ NGOs

Consumer disinterest
Growers marginalized

Support to Governments - Guidance at National Level

7. Supporting systems approaches to the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity, and the process for achieving this, were considered by participants in the context of how to address national and sectoral interests and local needs; the phasing of work identified in Decision III/11 para. 1, the thematic areas listed in Annex 2 and the Case Studies in Annex 3 of that Decision. These approaches should include explicitly incorporating agricultural biodiversity conservation and sustainable use in, for example, National Biodiversity Strategies (at agro-ecosystem levels), National Environmental Action Plans, national agricultural development plans and National Forest Action Programmes.

8. The mechanisms and processes needed to determine priorities for programmes and plans and to support countries in this process were discussed and the following conclusions were arrived at.

Table II: Support to Governments - Guidance at National Level
Proposed actions Timing Partners Considerations, risks and constraints
Review by countries
- Agree on scope
- Inventory relevant sectoral and cross-sectoral activities (e.g. IPM)
- Assess status/stage in each sector e.g. assessment, capacities, priorities
- Identify relevant legal instruments & mechanisms
- Identify areas of focus and determine priorities
May 1998
FAO/CBD with UNEP Institutional/bureaucratic boundaries
Prepare preliminary guidance or outline framework and process (3-5 pages + annexes)
- Definitions (levels and scope)
- Initial steps and process for developing national strategies. Programmes and plans on agricultural biodiversity (phasing?)
1st draft
As soon as possible
Lead role FAO in collaboration with IPGRI
- an individual to be identified to prepare 1st draft
National coordination - Meeting to initiate consultation and coordination

between sectoral focal points for each activity (biodiversity, agricultural biodiversity subsectors

- Where useful draw on CSD - Agenda 21 mechanisms
as soon as possible
Ministries and governmental bodies: Agriculture,
Natural Resources/ Environment, Planning, etc.
- wider definition of sectors in biodiversity sense i.e. including land resources
-phased or staggered process
Regional meetings
- Develop ideas and build consensus building on required process to incorporate agricultural biodiversity in national biodiversity strategies (meetings, linkages etc.)
1 year Joint FAO-CBD
with Regional organizations or mechanisms.
- Preparation process
- Funds
- Participants - if all sectors and all countries too many
Developing guidelines
- obtain agreement of need for a supplement to existing guidelines or the development of new guidelines
- revise or prepare a supplement on agricultural biological diversity
1-2 years - Use SBSTTA to obtain consensus
- FAO lead role for preparation with key agricultural biodiversity partners

Inter-Agency collaboration Political will

Electronic media (CHM and e-mail conferences)
- to raise awareness and understanding of importance and scope of agricultural biodiversity
- to strengthen national focal points and networks in the management of genetic resources
2 years FAO/CBD Time
Guidelines for assessment
- Including indicators for adapted genetic resources

1 year

FAO/UNEP/IUCN/WMCM etc Involvement of actors.
Cost/time of surveys/assessments
Agreed terms/ units
National platform To be set up on a permanent basis GOs, NGOs
Producers and farmers
Private sector
Academic and research institutes etc.
Depends on results of regional meetings and preliminary national meetings

International Coordination

9. FAO and CBD, as leading partners in agricultural biodiversity conservation through sustainable utilization, are taking the initiative for further cooperation and are inviting other relevant organizations to join in this process. This was fully supported by all participants.

10. Mutual reporting between the governing bodies of the COP and the CGRFA should continue at all relevant meetings as well as the development of general mechanisms for cooperation between CBD and FAO Secretariats. These should continue to be discussed and monitored through meetings twice each year. Other exchanges of relevant information on ongoing projects and programmes and the systematization of documentation and experiences between the two bodies, should be formalized. Such exchanges of information should lead to greater harmonization of programming and the involvement of other relevant organizations, wherever possible.

11. Support to Governments by FAO and CBD should be coordinated. Among many potential activities it was noted that there is a particular opportunity in the development of the next country-driven global assessment of genetic resources. The COP should contribute ideas to the CGRFA on the scope of this assessment. It was also noted that such an activity would contribute to the implementation of Decision III/21 (Decision III/21: The Conference of the Parties requests the Executive Secretary to continue to coordinate with the secretariats of relevant biological diversity-related conventions, institutions, and processes, with a view to: facilitating the exchange of information and experience; exploring the possibility of recommending procedures for harmonizing, to the extent desirable and practicable, the reporting requirements of Parties under those instruments and conventions; exploring the possibility of coordinating their respective programmes of work; and consulting on how such conventions and other international legal instruments can contribute to the implementation of the provisions of the Convention on Biological Diversity.)

12. Country-driven global assessment, as described above, could be widened eventually to become the State of the World’s Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, including all agricultural biodiversity, in so far as this is possible, and based on agreed indicators, mechanisms for the development of which are urgently needed. It was felt that this process might also assist in the development and coordination of national Focal Points as well as in the development of agreed national policies, plans and programmes, and the development of regional resource networks, within a globally agreed framework. This will need the coordinated input of many different actors, including all relevant government departments, farmers’ groups and NGOs. The development of regional resource networks might be assisted through the participation of all relevant actors in regional and sub-regional meetings.

13. In the evolution of the CBD Clearing-house Mechanism (CHM) with respect to agricultural biodiversity, it was concluded that care should be taken to ensure cooperation and complementarity especially with existing information systems, particularly those maintained by FAO, a lead agency for agricultural information. Among others, these include:

In this regard, it was recommended that the CBD Secretariat should be invited to participate in the planned review of the WIEWS. It was noted that the CBD Secretariat would be organizing a series of regional workshops on the Clearing-house Mechanism in the second half of 1997. Likewise, regional consultations organized by different sectors, for example on the Global Strategy for the Management of Farm Animal Genetic Resources, could be utilized to further consider mechanisms for interlinking information and assessment and reporting.

14. International cooperation on, and coordination of, approaches to funding agencies including the GEF should be enhanced. This should ensure adequate resourcing for the multi-year programme of work on agricultural biological diversity and the mechanisms needed to develop it. Recognizing the decisions of the COP - Decision III/5: Additional Guidance to the Financial Mechanism, and Decision III/6: Additional Financial Resources which, inter alia, urges all funding institutions, including bilateral and multilateral donors as well as regional funding institutions and non-governmental organizations, to strive to make their activities more supportive of the Convention, it was also concluded that stakeholder meetings should be organized between CBD, FAO and donors in order to increase awareness and develop ideas between the various partners. In these discussions, existing financial resources, as well as the existing programmes of various international organizations, should also be taken into account.

Table III: International Level Coordination
Proposed actions Timing Partners Considerations, risks and constraints
Mutual reporting between CGRFA and COP governing bodies Ongoing FAO/CGRFA/COP/
Permanent agenda item required
Develop general mechanisms for cooperation between Secretariats (for specific and technical consultations) Twice a yearCBD, FAO & other relevant organizationsTiming
Exchange information ongoing projects /programmes and systematize documentation and experiences Immediate; step wise implementation
Harmonize programming wherever possible FAO and CBD in close cooperation with other relevant institutions
Assessments (reporting of countries, international organizations)
One concrete proposal: exploring SOW II on agricultural biodiversity in general? (country-driven assessment)
next few months FAO and CBD in close cooperation with other relevant institutions Governments agree on scope and timing
Information systems/CHM
- aim to ensure cooperation/ complementarity immediateCBD/FAOFAO is lead agency for agricultural information
- review WIEWS on PGR Oct/Nov '97 FAO, CBD, WB, IPGRI and others e.g. NGOs links of WIEWS with CHM
Development of agreed indicators: agriculture, livestock, fisheries, forestry FAO, CBD Governments decide
Focal point coordination may result from SoW on agricultural biodiversity (country-driven process) CBD, FAO Agreement to coordinate within Governments, Member Nations and Parties to the CBD
Cooperation on funding
- follow-up discussions FAO/CBD in next few months CBD, FAO Availability of resources for Agricultural Biodiversity
- - FAO communication to Member Nations on Decision III/11FAO

Summing up

15. The Workshop participants agreed that:

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