FAO Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
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Soil biodiversity, an important topic for the Pacific Islands

01/06/2021 Suva, Fiji

Fighting loss of soil biodiversity is key to global food security and the achievement of more than half of the Sustainable Development Goals.The critical role soil biodiversity has globally, and particularly  here in the Pacific cannot be emphasised enough. A healthy soil is uniquely capable of providing essential terrestrial ecosystem services includng carbon sequestration and water quality.  

FAO,  the Scretariat of the Pacfic Community (SPC) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Environemtnal Programme (SPREP) have facilitated a technical session on the importance of soil biodiversity in the Pacific.  Participants  from 13 countries, including National Focal Points to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and to the Global Soil Partnership were engaged in a on-line discussion on the regional priorities and needs on soil biodiversity in the Pacific.

SPREP  Deputy Director General, Easter Chu Shing, in her opening remarks prized this collaborative intiative to further strengthen the links between agriculture and biodiveristy. This was indeed a good example of the way the agricultural and environemental sectors can come together and collaborate, harnessing the respective skills and experiences of regional  organisations.

Xiangjun Yao, FAO Subregional Coordinator for the Pacific followed up by renewing  FAO’s commitment to support member countries to promote conservation and sustainability as part of FAO’ s engagement in the agenda post 2030 for sustainable development. FAO has clearly enunciated its ambitions and  actions to address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss.

The technical session raised awareness of the benefits associated with soil biodiversity for food production and nutrition, carbon sequestration, water quality and human health, and is designed to bring together both the national agriculture and environment focal points. In fact, restoring, conserving and sustainably using biodiversity is key to transforming  more productive, resilient food systems to underpin long-term food security in future. Biodiversity provides sustainable solutions to the challenges faced by agri-food systems and countries depending on food imports. The importance of these challenges has been amplified by the impact of the Covid pandemic on global supply chains.

During the technical session, participats pointed out the capacity and resource gaps that need addressing in the region to walk toward a more sustainable and resilient agricultural sector. Those include, better research, more data and capacity building for farmers. Indeed, the recently held Global Symposium on Soil Biodiversity concluded that, whilst noteable progress has indeed been made in areas such as public awareness and the scientific understading of the role of soil biodiversity, and the value of the ecosystems services provided, there remain significant gaps.

The outcome of this session will  inform intervention at the ongoing twenty-fourth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 24) and at the forthcoming CBD Conference of Parties (COP) 15 later this year.  

The recording of the session is available at : Zoom recording - Google Drive

The session was organised under the ACP MEAs3 programme.