FAO Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia

FAO dialogue to spur action for protecting biodiversity in Europe and Central Asia

Mainstreaming biodiversity of all animal, plant, and fungi species in the agricultural sector is an attempt to ensure that important aspects of biodiversity protection are taken into account when selecting policies or farming methods. A two-day FAO virtual event, starting today, strives for improvement across all agricultural sectors in Europe and Central Asia for a better understanding and recognition of the value of biodiversity for food and agriculture by all partners, from decision-makers to businesses and farmers.

Supporting biodiversity can bring about better food insecurity, nutrition, and environmental health – all important cornerstones of a sustainable future and to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. With agriculture being a key economic sector in the countries of Europe and Central Asia, the sector plays an essential role in sustainable natural resource management.

At the very first regional dialogue on mainstreaming biodiversity, participants can discuss challenges, and exchange views and opportunities to mainstream biodiversity across all agricultural sectors in Europe and Central Asia in order to shape a regional action plan. Furthermore, representatives of public, private, academic, expert, and farming sectors from different countries will have the chance to reach out and set the base for collaborative actions.

“The Europe and Central Asia region hosts a great variety of climates, landscapes, aquatic environments, soil types, and cultures, and hence also biodiversity,” points out Tania Santivanez, FAO agricultural officer. “Still, this rich biodiversity and diverse ecosystems are threatened by changes in land use and intensification in agricultural sectors, and the loss of biodiversity is a reality in the region.”

Biodiversity for food and agriculture is the diversity of plants, animals, and micro-organisms at genetic, species, and ecosystem levels, present in and around crop, livestock, forest, and aquatic production systems. Its well-functioning is essential to agrifood systems, which are managed (or influenced) by farmers, livestock keepers, forest dwellers, and fish farmers.

In Europe and Central Asia, biodiversity is under threat by, among others, climate change, the combination of excessive water use and limited water resources stressing aquatic ecosystems in Central Asia, loss of forest cover, the proliferation of invasive species, as well as genetic erosion caused by replacing local varieties with modern ones. To this end, in the past decade, FAO has been supporting countries in and providing knowledge for ensuring the protection and conservation of biodiversity across agricultural sectors. The FAO Regional Initiative on sustainable natural resource management and biodiversity under a changing climate is the programmatic umbrella for translating global instruments and specific regional challenges into policies and actions at the country level.

Participants of the regional dialogue will thus learn about such international and regional instruments and how biodiversity can add value to agricultural products. On the second day, the focus will be on the technical aspects and consultations for the next steps for strengthening regional collaboration and the main priorities and actions of a regional action plan.

16 November 2021, Budapest, Hungary