Fifth GROW training concludes, 31 students join alumni network


The fifth annual GROW – Agrobiodiversity in a changing climate course concluded earlier this month. The two-week course held online from 15–25 November, included lecturers from the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, Sapienza University of Rome Department of Environmental Biology, and IFOAM Organics International. The 31 students from 20 countries that participated each received six CFU/ ECTS credits (Crediti Formativi Universitari/European Credit Transfer System).

The classes focused on the importance of biodiversity in agriculture, with particular focus on biodiversity’s role in enhancing cropping and farming systems’ resilience and adaptability to climate change. The sessions aimed to equip participants with necessary tools, knowledge and understanding to enhance productivity and marketing strategies in sustainable and resilient agricultural systems.

“The GROW course gave us insights and multidisciplinary knowledge about agrobiodiversity and its fundamental role in strengthening the resilience and adaptation of farming systems to climate change,” said Emanuela-Adina Cocis, research scientist from the Centre of Mountain Economy “CE-MONT”, Romania.

Freeco Minyahel Tilahun, Senior Lecturer at Wolkite University in Ethiopia added, “The training has many special deliverables to scholars from different backgrounds and research interests. The diversity of the trainers in terms of the geographical location, discipline, experience, and skill, resembles the topic given for the course. The training has shown greater knowledge to using tools and programmes in agricultural activities, monitoring and biodiversity assessments.”

The importance of agrobiodiversity relates particularly to mountain areas. Many of the world’s most important crops and livestock species originate in mountains. The agrobiodiversity mountain areas provide are key to achieving sustainable agrifood systems.

During the course of GROW, the United Nations General Assembly also approved a resolution on sustainable mountain development with the support of 110 governments. The resolution recognizes the need to increase the adaptive capacity, resilience and sustainability of food and agricultural production regarding climate change, noting that sustainable production practices, agroforestry, and the conservation of agrobiodiversity in mountain areas ensure food security, nutrition and dietary diversity. It also notes that agrobiodiversity generates income for smallholder farmers and aids conservation and restoration.

With the second part of the Fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP15) taking place next month in Montreal, Canada, this timely meeting offers a strategic opportunity to reiterate key takeaways from this year’s GROW course. Namely that we must protect mountain biodiversity at global scale and protect and restore ecosystem functions and services upon which communities in mountains and lowlands depend.

The GROW course was organized by the Mountain Partnership Secretariat, in collaboration with Sapienza University of Rome, Department of Environmental Biology, Alliance of Biodiversity International and the Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), and the Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research. Technical support was provided by the Food and Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

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