Resource Mobilization

FAO tapped to lead a global dialogue to mainstream biodiversity in agriculture, forestry and fisheries

08/12/2016 - 

Cancun, Mexico - More than 190 countries at a major United Nations conference in Mexico have pledged to step up efforts to integrate biodiversity into the policies of their agriculture, forests and fisheries sectors.

On 3 December, countries adopted the Cancun Declaration, named after the Mexican city where the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), known as 'COP13,' is being held. The Declaration represents an unprecedented recognition from the international community that biodiversity protection must involve different governmental and economic sectors and not just environment ministries.

At the closure of the COP13 High Level Segment, Rafael Pacchiano, the Conference Chair and Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of Mexico, commended the work of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as a close ally to CBD in implementing the Cancun Declaration.

FAO was invited by several countries, including the COP host, Mexico, and by the CBD Secretariat to facilitate dialogue among the environmental and agricultural sectors. On that occasion Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General, confirmed that “FAO stands ready to bring these sectors together to discuss realistic options for sustainable food and agricultural production and on interactions, synergies and trade-offs between agricultural production and the conservation of natural resources, including biodiversity.”

In this regard, FAO launched a platform to allow ministries of Agriculture, Forestry, Fisheries and Environment to engage in a cross-sector dialogue in a more coherent and coordinated manner. “FAO has strong experience with its technical committees in agriculture, forests and fisheries and can assist countries to implement decisions and agreements from this Conference," declared Semedo.

Miguel Ruiz Cabañas, Vice Minister for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, also welcomed FAO’s proposal. “We praise the great support FAO has received from countries and we are confident that this platform will serve countries  and international cooperation”, he said.

Cristiana Pasca Palmer, Minister of Environment of Rumania, and Excecutive Secretary designateof the CBD, called this initiative  excellent. “It is necessary to  transform mentalities, lifestyles, production and consumer choices. This Platform offers an ideal space to  Foster  dialogue”, she declared. For David Cooper, Deputy Excecutive Secretary for the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), FAO’s has the experience to help countries with  policy coherence and to learn from projects to improve national policies.

For Raul Urteaga, Foreign Affairs Coordinator from the Mexican Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA), this initiative is a valuable instrument to learn about success stories from countries who sustainably manage the environment in their agriculture practices. “SAGARPA enthusiatically supports  this initiative, we are ready to cooperate and contribute to align policies and the production sectors”, he stated. 

FAO’s Platform to mainstream biodiversity

The proposed platform can help to:

  • Map existing governance mechanisms and initiatives that effectively mainstream the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity within and across the agriculture and food sectors – and identify solutions if there are gaps;
  • Strengthen bridging processes to allow the agricultural and food sectors and the environment sector to learn from each other, identifying synergies and aligning goals – at UN organization and country level;
  • Facilitate the exchange of information and data among stakeholders to reach a common understanding of the status quo – as there are many definitions and perceptions on biodiversity;
  • Facilitate the development of coherent and consistent mainstreaming approaches and strategies within and across agriculture and food sectors, with a view to supporting the implementation of related national and supra–national strategies;
  • Encourage responsible private investments to be channeled into practices that improve the sustainability of production while reducing biodiversity loss and encouraging restoration of ecosystems;
  • Support countries in the development of cross-sectoral ‘packages of actions’ that include improved and enforceable legal frameworks, and socio-economic incentives to reduce opportunity costs of biodiversity conservation for poor farmers, livestock keepers, fishers and forest managers – because without market prices speaking the ‘ecological truth’, smallscale farmers need support.

A special FAO side event taking place at COP13 today will showcase examples of concrete policies, technical solutions and finance options.