17 October 2017
Publications Highlight Role of Agrobiodiversity and Climate-Resilient Agriculture in Achieving Global Goals
UN Photo/Gill Fickling
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A book published by the CGIAR Consortium’s Bioversity International details the contribution of agricultural biodiversity to: diverse, healthy diets; sustainable farming systems; seed systems that support crop diversity; and the conservation of agricultural biodiversity for use in sustainable food systems.

A second publication titled, ‘The Nutrition Advantage: Harnessing the Nutrition Co-Benefits of Climate Resilient Agriculture,’ published by IFAD, examines how investments in climate-resilient agriculture can help ensure food security and improve nutrition.

11 October 2017: Agrobiodiversity is critical to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) while climate-resilient agriculture improves food security and nutrition. These are the main messages of two publications launched during the 44th Committee on World Food (CFS 44), which convened from 9-13 October 2017, in Rome, Italy.

The publication titled,Mainstreaming Agrobiodiversity in Sustainable Food Systems: Scientific Foundations for an Agrobiodiversity Index,’ describes, inter alia, agrobiodiversity as a vehicle for providing nutritious foods through natural processes, and critical to achieving a number of SDGs, including SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 2 (zero hunger), SDG 3 (good health and well-being), SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production), SDG 13 (climate action) and SDG 15 (life on land). It also explains that, while agrobiodiversity is not the only component required for a sustainable food system, a sustainable food system cannot exist without agrobiodiversity and, paradoxically, the more agrobiodiversity is used, the more it is saved.

In the book’s preface, former Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Executive Secretary Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias explains that the SDGs provide a “renewed impetus” for focusing on biodiversity use for food and nutrition, and mainstreaming biodiversity in sustainable food systems will help achieve the Goals. The book, published by the CGIAR Consortium’s Bioversity International, details the contribution of agricultural biodiversity to: diverse, healthy diets; multiple benefits in sustainable farming systems; seed systems delivering crop diversity; and conserving agricultural biodiversity for use in sustainable food systems, through, inter alia, complementary conservation, a combination of on-farm, in-situ and ex-situ conservation approaches.

The book represents a step in the process of creating an Agrobiodiversity Index to help monitor agrobiodiversity conservation and use, as called for in the ‘Delhi Declaration on Agrobiodiversity Management,’ adopted at the first International Agrobiodiversity Congress, held in New Delhi, India, in November 2016. The Index will help: identify opportunities for transitioning towards more sustainable food systems; and better measure and manage progress towards achieving the SDGs and the CBD’s Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

The report explains that private companies and finance institutions will be able to use the Index to measure the sustainability of investments, green bonds and company purchasing policies, while farmer and consumer organizations will find the Index useful to influence policies and programmes, and inform decisions regarding sustainable practices and purchases. [Mainstreaming Agrobiodiversity Landing Page] [Publication: Mainstreaming Agrobiodiversity] [Mainstreaming Agrobiodiversity Executive Summary] [Publication Brochure and Factsheet] [Agrobiodiversity Index Website] [Agrobiodiversity Index Factsheet] [Bioversity Blog Post]

A publication titled, ‘The Nutrition Advantage: Harnessing the Nutrition Co-Benefits of Climate Resilient Agriculture,’ published by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), examines the linkages between climate change impacts in agriculture and malnutrition challenges, and how investments in climate-resilient agriculture can help ensure food security and improve nutrition. It argues that diversified, climate-smart food systems that consider nutrition can help smallholders increase resilience and provide more stable incomes and improve dietary quality, while also addressing climate change. The report explains that the regions facing most severe climate impacts are also experiencing the worst malnutrition, as is the case for sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

The report presents IFAD’s experiences in improving nutrition in climate-sensitive agricultural investments, highlighting, for example, its Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP), a US$285 million programme, and according to IFAD, the largest source of climate change adaptation funding for smallholder farmers. It also examines IFAD-supported projects, including in: Sudan, where an irrigation and land and water governance project provided nutrition and food processing training to women; and Niger, where women’s groups are working to increase the availability of staple foods and the production of high nutritional value foods through, for example, grain stores and “nutrition gardens” that also promote climate resilience. The report includes case studies from: Bolivia, on indigenous climate adaptation approaches and nutrition; Djibouti, on sustainable fisheries for blue growth and micronutrients; Malawi, on water management for nutrition and climate resilience; Mauritania, on climate-resilient and nutrition-sensitive value chains; and Nepal, on diversified crops and food systems for dietary diversity. The case studies provide examples of how knowledge-based approaches to project design and implementation are critical to delivering multiple co-benefits, such as through the use of indigenous knowledge, as well as through the use of scientific knowledge-based approaches to planning and implementation.

The report recommends, inter alia: increasing policy engagement efforts to ensure that national policies support projects that deliver multiple benefits; forming strategic knowledge partnerships to inform actions; building capacity to enhance understanding of the links between agriculture, environmental sustainability, climate change, nutrition and gender; and changing behavior through more strategic communications and nutrition education. While the report’s primary focus is on nutrition co-benefits delivered by investments in climate-resilient agriculture, it also looks at other benefits leveraged by such investments, including the environmental sustainability of farming systems and gender-inclusive development. Such an integrated approach with respect to development programming, according to the report, can support rural transformation in response to climate change impacts and environmental degradation, and help achieve the SDGs. [IFAD Press Release] [Publication: The Nutrition Advantage: Harnessing Nutrition Co-Benefits of Climate-Resilient Agriculture]

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