Biodiversity: World’s food systems rely on it

04 March 2020


Everything we eat is produced in ways that imply some transformation of the environment, which means we must have careful discussions of the type and scale of transformations we are prepared to accept, FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said today in opening remarks to negotiators at a high-level meeting on biodiversity.

Agriculture and food systems are “at the heart of the concept of sustainable development” and are central to deliberations regarding the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework, he said. The Director-General spoke at the beginning of the second meeting of the Open-ended Working Group established by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), which FAO is hosting. “I know that the world is eagerly waiting out there for demonstrable progress towards a clear, actionable and transformative global framework on biodiversity,” said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, the Acting Executive Secretary of the CBD.

Qu signaled his hope that participants would lead to a “robust” outcome to be agreed at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Kunming, China, in October 2020. The framework decided there will set the course for the next 10 years and beyond. “Biodiversity is fundamental for ecosystems, for human beings, and is the basis of food diversity,” Qu said, noting the enormous challenge awaiting of feeding more than 9 billion people in 2050 in ways that assure healthy diets and avoid overexploitation of natural resources.

The Director-General noted that FAO has shepherded “many milestones” in the history of UN efforts to achieve biodiversity conservation, pointing to the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and The International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture as well as knowledge products such as last year’s The State of the World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture. Keystone functional services FAO provides to member states, such as data collection and dissemination, standard-setting, policy consultation and capacity building, will be useful in the pursuit of protecting biological diversity.


The Convention on Biological Diversity entered into force on 29 December 1993 and currently has 196 Parties.It aims to promote the conservation of biodiversity – defended as the variability among living organisms from all sources” and the ecological complexes of which they are part – the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from the use of genetic resources. The FAO Director-General urged the delegations present to ensure that biodiversity is an integral part of the issues discussed at the 2021 World Food Systems Summit to be hosted by the UN Secretary General.

Published by on February 24, 2020
Image by Shutterstock


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