Embedding biodiversity in all we do
May 25 2021
25 May 2021, Rome – Conserving biodiversity is a central part of making peace with nature, and every person, sector and institution has a role to play, global leaders concurred at a United Nations (UN) virtual event today.
“We are all part of the solution and you can count on the food and agriculture sector to play its part,” QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), said in a panel discussion with the heads of other UN agencies.
The event was held by the UN System Chief Executives Board for Coordination (CEB) to consolidate support for the Global Biodiversity Agenda, with the aim of “reimagining of the human relationship to nature as a symbiotic one.”
Tagged “We are part of the solution”, it followed on the CEB endorsement of a common approach to mainstreaming biodiversity and nature-based solutions for sustainable development across UN policy and programme planning and delivery.
Participants in the meeting included Yasmine Fouad, Egypt’s Environment Minister and NING Liu, Deputy Minister of Ecology and Environment of the People’s Republic of China. China will host the 15th Conference of Parties (CoP) for the Convention on Biological Diversity later this year in Kunming, where international leaders are expected to agree on a post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
Agriculture sectors, including forestry and fisheries, are the largest land user globally, and “biodiversity provides sustainable solutions to multiple challenges by agri-food systems,” Qu said. Tapping that potential “will not happen without the farmers, fisherfolks, livestock keepers and foresters,” he added.
FAO has a broad approach to biodiversity, ranging from important knowledge products such as The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture, to instruments such as the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) and policies such as the Code of Conduct on Responsible Fisheries to field activities such as the Sustainable Wildlife Management programme, the International Pollinator Initiative, or the upcoming UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
FAO also hosts the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, and the programme on Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS).
Biodiversity and ecosystem services for food and agriculture are also a priority action area in FAO’s 2022-2031 Strategic Framework, expected to be endorsed by its Members next month. The Director-General noted that the Organization is one of the first UN agencies to have adopted an internal strategy endorsed also by its Members: FAO Strategy on Mainstreaming Biodiversity across Agriculture Sectors and the 2021-23 Action Plan to implement it.
Biodiversity and agri-food systems depend on each other
The panel discussion on channeling accountability and engagement for change to halt the loss of and restore biodiversity featured FAO’s Director-General; UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen; Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights; UNESCO Assistant Director-General Shamila Nair Bedouelle and Samba Thiam, Senior Development Policy Advisor to the Administrator, United Nations Development Programme.
“We collectively have the opportunity to truly scale up action for greater coherence and ambitions for biodiversity,” Qu said. “Embracing and building on this positive interaction is the role of each one of us.”
That extends to smallholders and rural residents around the world, as their livelihoods often depend on biodiversity.
Emphasizing the interdependence of agri-food systems and biodiversity, Qu said that FAO’s strategic action plans aim to “conserve, enhance, preserve, restore and sustainably use biodiversity across agricultural sectors, within productive landscapes and seascapes.”