A year ago, when global leaders met in Rio de Janeiro to shape the future of sustainable development, ensuring food security and sustainable agriculture was central to their discussions. As the world faces ongoing food crises, extreme weather and population growth, IUCN and partners led by Bioversity International, have launched an initiative to develop solutions to food security.
A workshop on the links between agriculture and conservation was held at the IUCN World Conservation Congress last year. Since then, IUCN has worked with the leaders of more than 16 organizations to launch the initiative Bridging Agriculture and Conservation. The United Nations Environment Programme, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Government of Brazil and leading international foundations are other drivers of the initiative.
After the recent launch, these leaders signed a declaration which sets out a new approach. The initiative will provide evidence-based solutions to feed a growing population while ensuring the long-term conservation of vital biodiversity, including agricultural biodiversity.
“I was pleasantly surprised that all participants agree with the landscape approach to agriculture, food, nutrition and nature conservation, which is so central to IUCN’s Programme 2013-2016”, says Poul Engberg-Pedersen, IUCN’s Deputy Director General.
“The participants agree it is not possible, desirable nor sustainable to seek to intensify production systems without respecting the ability of the landscape to regenerate and provide multiple goods and services and the need to reduce the ecological footprint of agriculture,” he added.
Agricultural biodiversity – the diversity of varieties and species of plants on farms and in the wild – can help farmers manage risks, such as threats from pests and diseases, climate change and market fluctuations; improve income, livelihood and nutrition. It can also ensure the availability of important genes and traits for current and future food security and continued evolution and adaptation.
Partners in the initiative recognize that current approaches to food security, which focus primarily on increasing agricultural productivity of a few major crops, will not lead to better nutrition and more resilient, adaptable and more productive food and agricultural systems. Likewise, current approaches to conservation, which mainly focus on conserving biodiversity in a limited number of areas, do not include agricultural landscapes and ecosystems.
The initiative will bring together an international team of scientists from the fields of agriculture, development and conservation to identify solutions based on science, evidence and experience that integrate biodiversity conservation and food security.
Read the declaration here.