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Background

COP 1

In 1994, at its first meeting, as part of its medium-term programme of work, the Conference of the Parties (COP) decided to consider conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity at its third meeting (decision I/9). It also addressed issues relevant to agricultural biodiversity in its consideration of other items, including access to genetic resources (Article 15 of the Convention), and the relationship with the FAO Global System for Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.

COP 2

At its second meeting, the COP took note of the Global System for the Conservation and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture developed by member countries of the FAO through the FAO Commission on Plant Genetic Resources, and the recommendation for strengthening it expressed in chapter 14 of Agenda 21 (decision II/15).
In addition, the COP adopted a statement for transmission to the International Technical Conference on the Conservation and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture in June 1996 (decision II/16, annex).

COP 3

The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) considered agricultural biological diversity at its second meeting and submitted recommendation II/7 to the COP. At COP 3, the COP adopted decision III/11, "Conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biological diversity", which, inter alia, decided to establish a multi-year programme of activities on agricultural biological diversity. The goals of the work programme are:

  1. Promote the positive effects and mitigate the negative impacts of agricultural practices on biological diversity in agro-ecosystems and their interface with other ecosystems
  2. Promote the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources of actual or potential value for food and agriculture
  3. Promote the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources (decision III/11, paragraph 1).

The COP requested the Secretariat and the FAO, in close collaboration with other relevant organizations, to identify and assess relevant ongoing national and international activities and instruments (decision III/11, paragraph 2 and annex 2). The results of this assessment were reported back through SBSTTA, which at its third meeting, reviewed progress to date in initiating the multi-year work programme and adopted recommendation III/4.

COP 4

In decision IV/6 , the COP endorsed recommendation III/4 and requested that SBSTTA develop and provide to COP 5 advice and recommendations as to the development of the multi-year programme of work (decision IV/6, paragraph 7).

COP 5

The advice and recommendations of SBSTTA were provided in recommendation V/9 . COP 5 adopted a programme of work to further implement decision III/11 (decision V/5, paragraph 9).

Much of the work on agricultural biological diversity under the Convention to date has been undertaken in cooperation with the FAO. In addition, the COP has welcomed the contribution that the Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources provides to the implementation of the Convention and has endorsed its priorities and policy recommendations, while recognizing the need for further work in the context of the FAO Global System (decision III/11, paragraph 19). The COP has also expressed support for the Global Strategy for the Management of Farm Animal Genetic Resources under the FAO (decision III/11 , paragraph 20). The COP has asked FAO and other relevant organizations to support implementation of the work programme (decision V/5, paragraph 6).

The COP recommended collaboration and consultation with the World Trade Organization (WTO) in developing a better appreciation of the relationship between trade and agricultural biological diversity (decision III/11, paragraph 24). The COP requested the Executive Secretary apply for observer status in the WTO Committee on Agriculture (decision IV/6, paragraph 9). Parties were encouraged to support this application (decision V/5, paragraph 14). The Executive Secretary was requested to report to the COP on the impact of trade liberalization on the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biological diversity in consultation with, inter alia, the WTO (decision IV/6, paragraph 10).

COP 6

At its sixth meeting, the COP adopted decision VI/5 on agricultural biodiversity, which contains provisions on the implementation of the programme of work, the International Pollinator Initiative, soil biodiversity, animal genetic resources, trade liberalization and genetic use restriction technologies (GURTs). In this decision, the COP adopted the steps for the further implementation of the programme of work by the Executive Secretary and partner organizations and the reporting schedule for SBSTTA and COP. The COP also adopted the plan of action on the International Pollinators Initiative (annex II), established the International Initiative on Soil Biodiversity, encouraged Parties to participate in the development of the FAO's first Report on the State of the World's Animal Genetic Resources, and established an Ad Hoc Technical Expert group on "the impacts of GURTs on smallholder farmers, indigenous and local communities and Farmers' Rights" to prepare advice for COP 7 and report to the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group on Article 8(j) and Related Provisions and SBSTTA prior to COP 7.

COP 7

Through its decision VII/3 on agricultural biological diversity, the seventh meeting of the COP noted the progress made in the implementation of the work programme and agreed to postpone the preparation of the final report of the comprehensive assessment of agricultural biological diversity and related milesstones by two years, as suggested by the key implementing agencies. The COP requested that SBSTTA 10 consider the report from the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on "the impacts of GURTs on smallholder farmers, indigenous and local communities and Farmers' Rights" which was prepared for COP 7, and to provide advice on it to COP 8, also taking into consideration decision VII/16 on Article 8(j) and related provisions. Other reports prepared pursuant to decision V/5, i.e., on the impacts of trade liberalization on agricultural biodiversity, were noted and further work requested. A number of ongoing and related initiatives were welcomed, and Parties, other Governments, civil-society organizations and other non-governmental organizations and programmes were invited to further implement provisions of the programme of work. In view of reporting, the COP requested, through decision VII/3, that available information on agricultural biodiversity be identified and assessed before the submission of the third national reports (decision VII/25). The COP recognized the importance of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and urged Parties and other Governments to ratify this instrument.

COP 8

At its eighth meeting, the COP adopted decision VIII/23 (section A, paragraph 3), which contains the framework for a cross-cutting initiative on biodiversity for food and nutrition and on the conservation and sustainable use of soil biodiversity, and decided to integrate the elements of these frameworks into the programme of work on agricultural biodiversity at its in-depth review at its ninth meeting. The COP requested Parties and relevant organizations to identify research activities to address knowledge gaps on soil biodiversity and their implications for land use practices. In section C of decision VIII/23, the COP reaffirmed decision V/5 on genetic restriction technologies. The COP requested the Executive Secretary to make available to Parties and relevant international organizations the outcomes of the Conference on Health and Biodiversity (COHAB) for consideration in the framework of the in-depth review of the programme of work on agricultural biodiversity at COP 9 and, in partnership with the FAO and in consultation with other relevant international organizations, to prepare the full review of the programme of work on agricultural biodiversity for consideration by COP 9.

COP 9

An in-depth review on the programme of work on agricultural biodiversity was considered at COP 9. In decision IX/1, the COP decided to integrate the issue of biofuel production and use into the programme of work on agricultural biodiversity. In this same decision, the COP requested that the Executive Secretary report on progress at a meeting of the Subsidiary Body prior to the tenth meeting of the COP in various areas including on collaborative work with FAO on how to evaluate the implementation of the programme of work on agricultural biodiversity in relation to the objectives and strategic plan of the Convention. The COP also requested that the Executive Secretary, the Secretariat of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and FAO collaborate on a joint work plan on biodiversity for food and agriculture.

COP 10

In Decision X/34, the COP stressed the importance of agricultural biodiversity for food security and nutrition, especially in the face of climate change and limited natural resources. The COP also noted the importance of the joint work plan between the secretariats of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and its Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, and requested they work together in their design of the second phase of their joint work plan in relation to the Aichi Biodiversity Targets of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. The COP also invited invited the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, subject to resources, and in consultation with the Executive Secretary and relevant partners, including indigenous and local communities, to undertake further studies on the valuation of the biodiversity and ecosystem services provided by agricultural ecosystems.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme