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FAO working to advance global biodiversity agenda

Three-day event in Rome gathers recommendations on how to build the agriculture of the future

31 May 2018, Rome - FAO, acting as Biodiversity Mainstreaming Platform, can  help shift agricultural production onto a more sustainable track -- one that promotes healthy and thriving ecosystems while also producing ample and nutritious food for a growing global population.

At the close of a three-day meeting (29-31 May) convened to discuss the work of the Platform, a group of 250 Ministers, policymakers, experts, and private and civil society representatives provided a number of suggestions for the Organization's future work on biodiversity.

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva stressed that doing more to include biodiversity as a priority in farming, fishing and forestry policies and practices will be critical to feeding an ever more-crowded planet and coping with the environmental challenges of the future.

"We have to conserve and manage our natural resources in a much more sustainable way. We have to protect the ecosystem functions of biodiversity, such as water quality, nutrient cycling, soil health, rehabilitation of degraded areas and habitat for wild species, biological pest control, and also pollination," he said in his closing remarks.

"The agriculture of the future needs to be more resilient and, thus, more diverse and it needs to ensure healthy and nutritious diets," added the Director-General.

Graziano da Silva announced that FAO would propose a Biodiversity Strategy for consideration by its technical committees and governing bodies, in close consultation with its partners and with stakeholders.

And he noted that the upcoming UN Decade on Family Farming will provide an opportunity making the case to food producers of the importance of mainstreaming biodiversity concerns into their activities.

"We must not forget that family farmers are the foremost custodians of agricultural biodiversity," said Graziano da Silva.

What's on FAO's plate when it comes to biodiversity?

The meeting this week was convened to advance discussions on FAO's Biodiversity Mainstreaming Platform, which was established in December 2016 at the Conference of the Parties  of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP13).

"Making better use of biodiversity is essential for sustainable agriculture and for meeting climate challenges and changing food needs," said David Cooper, Deputy Executive Secretary of the CBD and a co-organizer of this week's discussions. "This meeting has sown the seeds for the transformational changes needed to bring to COP14 and beyond," he added.

FAO's Platform aspires to be a resource for helping countries transition to more sustainable forms of agriculture, fisheries and forestry which incorporate biodiversity objectives into policies and approaches.

Participants recommended that the Platform take action on three broad fronts: at the international level, by engaging with partners to improve global governance; at the national level, through support to government agencies, agricultural producers, and other food systems actors; and in the marketplace, by exploring ways to incentivize investment in agricultural biodiversity.

Knowledge was stressed as a critical driver of change, and FAO was tasked with using its Platform to facilitate sharing of information with farmers, decision makers and other actors on how to include sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity into the management of agriculture ecosystems.

They also stressed the need for the Platform to develop metrics, indicators and data to measure the impact and performance of measures related to the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity in agriculture, fishery and forestry.

Photo: ©FAO
Participants in the three day event provided FAO with guidance on its future work on mainstreaming agricultural biodiversity.