The world is made of an invisible web that we rarely recognize. Forests provide homes for animals. Animals eat plants. The plants need healthy soil to grow. Fungi help fertilize the soil. Bees and other insects carry pollen from one plant to another, enabling the plants to reproduce. Loss of species, whether animal or plant, weakens these connections and can alter the performance of an entire ecosystem.
No aspect on our planet is more complex, dynamic or rich than the layer of living organisms occupying our land and our oceans, and no element is more vital to global food production and essential for human well-being than the diversity of plants, animals and microbes and their environment. This diversity has been used and conserved by farmers and communities for millennia and remains a key element of the livelihood strategies of poor, small-scale farmers throughout the world
FAO’s work on biodiversity aims at supporting countries in balancing the need to improve the food and nutrition security and livelihoods of the poor, especially in rural areas, while at the same time preventing the degradation, contamination and loss of natural resources while building resilience to climate change. To adapt to challenges and uncertainties, a large reservoir of biological diversity is needed.
Biodiversity is experiencing dramatic change and losses at the hands of humans. Unsustainable farming practices, systems and the urbanization processes are all taking a terrible toll on our natural resources in our efforts to meet a growing demand for food, feed and bioenergy. The alarming pace of biodiversity losses will have devastating consequences for humankind if left unchecked.
Today, the world has some 821 million people suffering from chronic hunger; a quarter of our children under the age of five are stunted; a third of the global population is malnourished; and obesity affects one in eight people on the planet. Conserving biodiversity, and reducing both the pressure on natural resources and ecosystems, while mitigating the uncertainties associated with climate change has never been so important for our diets, our health and our survival.
Working closely with governments and key actors, FAO supports integrating sustainability in its three dimensions (social, economic and environmental) across agriculture, forestry and fisheries. Mainstreaming biodiversity, integrating landscape and seascape approaches into actions, policies and investments, and supporting farmers’ rights to genetic resources, are key to building resilient livelihoods. Tapping into ecosystem services reduces the need for external inputs and improves efficiency.