Building capacity related to Multilateral Environmental Agreements in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP MEAs 3)

Interview with Kim-Anh Tempelman: "As custodians of agricultural biodiversity, smallholder farmers are vital to food security."

Kim-Anh Tempelman is the global project coordinator of FAO's Capacity Building Programme for African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries that participate in Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) — otherwise known as ACP MEAs 3. She says farming must go hand in hand with the biodiversity on which it depends, and one cannot be prioritized at the expense of the other.

KT: Biodiversity is our safety net and is the basis of agriculture. It includes all plants and animals that provide food, feed, fuel and fiber, as well as far less visible organisms, such as fungi, bacteria, earthworms and insects that are essential to thriving crops and farmlands.

However, biodiversity is declining worldwide due to many factors, including excessive use of pesticides.

These can be useful in the short term to protect crops from pests and diseases. In the long term, however, they are harmful to humans and the environment. They cause soil and water pollution and wipe out many organisms beneficial to agriculture, including pollinating insects such as honey bees and butterflies and natural enemies of pests such as birds, spiders, and ladybugs.

Biodiversity in farmers’ fields acts as an “insurance policy” against crop failures and is indispensable to food security and nutrition. Farming must therefore go hand in hand with the biodiversity on which it depends, and one cannot be prioritized at the expense of the other.

Why ACP MEAs 3

The ultimate goal of ACP MEAs 3 is to reconcile agricultural production with the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity.

The programme kicked off in 2019 and runs until 2023 and is designed to support policy-makers, extension services and agricultural producers to integrate sound pesticide and biodiversity management in agriculture for healthy soil, water, plants, animals and therefore people.

ACP MEAs 3 partners

The programme is an initiative of the Secretariat of the African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States and is funded by the European Union in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). It focuses on six countries and five sub-regions in three continents.

ACP MEAs 3 dovetails with the FAO Strategy on Mainstreaming Biodiversity across Agricultural Sectors and comes during the development of the post-2020 global framework that is due to be adopted at the Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 15).

It also fits in with the EU Biodiversity and Farm to Fork Strategies, which lie at the heart of the European Green Deal for fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food systems.  

The aim is to accelerate the transition towards environmentally sound and climate resilient agriculture that can feed increasing numbers of people sustainably over time.