Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS)

Visit of Ms Naoko Ishii (CEO) and Mr Gustavo Fonseca (Director of Programs) of the Global Environment Facility, to the GIAHS Exhibit in FAO Headquarters

04 March 2019

On the occasion of the Launch of the Report on the State of World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture by the FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, Ms Naoko Ishii and Mr Gustavo Fonseca, Director of Programs, had the chance to visit the GIAHS exhibition.

This temporary exhibition has the objective of presenting the long collaboration between FAO and the GEF in the establishment and development of GIAHS, first as an initiative and today as an FAO Corporate Programme.

In fact, since more than ten years, the GEF has been supporting GIAHS through projects. First globally, with the project “Conservation and Adaptive Management of Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems”, which focused on eight pilot GIAHS sites in six countries. These are: the Chiloe Islands in Chile; Andean Agriculture in Cusco-Puno Corridor in Peru; Ghout Oasis in Algeria and Gafsa Oasis in Tunisia; Rice-Fish Culture, Hani Rice Terraces and Torreya Tree System in China; and the Ifugao Rice Terraces in the Philippines. The creation of the eight GIAHS sites created a basis for strengthening the GIAHS Secretariat, and resulted in adoption of policy frameworks that include the GIAHS concept and approach by all the pilot countries.

Thanks to the infusion of GEF funds, the visibility of the GIAHS system was significantly increased in international fora and FAO member countries. Currently, 6 countries host GIAHS sites created with the GEF global project (China, Chile, Tunisia, Peru, The Philippines, and Algeria) and 4 countries are conducting GIAHS-related activities thanks to the contribution of biodiversity-related GEF funds (Morocco, Ecuador, Mexico and Cuba).

Within the GIAHS pilot countries, Chile and Peru are upscaling the GIAHS experience with their national GEF projects.

The success of GIAHS in FAO and its member countries is an example of how the initial investment of the GEF has contributed to a long-lasting programme, which started with 8 sites and in less than 10 years has reached almost 60 sites in 21 countries with many additional countries in the pipeline, disseminating globally key GIAHS concepts such as importance of biodiversity, traditional knowledge and sustainable agriculture. It represents the perfect example of up-scaling the experience of localized projects into a global programme that is contributing to change the perspective of agriculture and is being adopted by new regions, with the active participation of Western Europe in the past two years.