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Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition

Statement from the first IBFN consultation

Participants to the first consultation on the cross-cutting initiative on biodiversity for food and nutrition issued a statement to motivate and guide its further development. The short version of the statement is reproduced on this web page, and is also available in full as part of the consultation’s final report.

Call for Action

Biodiversity is essential for food security and nutrition and offers key options for sustainable livelihoods. Environmental integrity is critical for maintaining and building positive options for human well-being. Existing knowledge warrants immediate action to promote the sustainable use of biodiversity in food security and nutrition programmes, as a contribution to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This would counteract the simplification of diets, agricultural systems and ecosystems, and the erosion of food cultures. Considering the difficulty in precisely identifying optimal diets, a diversity of foods from plants and animals remains the preferred choice for human health.  Traditional food systems provide positive synergies between human and ecosystem health, and culture offers an essential context for mediating positive dietary choices.

An interdisciplinary initiative on biodiversity for food and nutrition, based on the ecosystem approach that makes the most of locally-available biodiversity and initiative to address nutrition problems, will assist countries and stakeholders in achieving the MDGs. Without urgent action that directly engages the environmental, agricultural, nutrition and health communities, biodiversity and the positive options offered by domesticated and wild biodiversity for addressing nutrient deficiencies and the emerging burden of non-communicable disease will be lost.

Proposals for Action

(a)Substantiating and promoting awareness of the links between biodiversity, food and nutrition
i.   Compilation, review and analysis of existing scientific information, indigenous and traditional knowledge (in a manner consistent with the CBD, Article 8(j)), and case studies
ii. Development of a communication strategy, and associated publications and other materials to address: the general public; decision makers; local communities; and the nutrition, agriculture, health and environment communities
iii. Convening of regional advocacy and policy workshops

(b)Mainstreaming the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity into agendas and programmes related to nutrition and agriculture, and poverty reduction. For example, integrate biodiversity into programmes and activities concerning:
i. Food-based dietary guidelines
ii.Food composition analysis and dietary assessments
iii.Relevant regulatory frameworks and legislation at national and international levels
iv. National Plans of Action for Nutrition
v. National Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers
vi.The Right to Food
vii.Food security projects and programmes, including: household food security projects, school programmes, home gardens
viii.Emergency response and preparedness

(c)Promoting activities, that contribute to improving food security and human nutrition through enhanced sustainable use of biodiversity:

i. On farm conservation of biodiversity
ii. Development of new crops
iii.Protection and promotion of biodiversity friendly markets
iv.Action research

Invitation to other organizations to contribute to the initiative.

FAO, WHO, IFAD, WFP, UNICEF, UNU and other intergovernmental organizations are encouraged to include biodiversity-related considerations in their programmes and strategies including but not limited to, the:

Global Plan of Action to Achieve the Millennium Development Goals (prepared through the Secretary-General’s Millennium Project) and in particular its action plan on hunger;
FAO World Food Summit Plan of Action
WHO Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health and
International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development

Similarly governments and other international and national institutions, IUNS, ICSU and other research and academic associations, civil society organizations and movements, including the Slow Food Movement, local community and indigenous peoples organizations, and the private sector are encouraged to contribute to the initiative

Next steps

The participants in the consultation recognize the benefits of coming together under a common framework and commit themselves to continue to contribute to the development of the cross-cutting initiative and to undertake the following activities:

Raising awareness in our organizations, networks and communities of practice and at upcoming meetings and events
Preparing an inventory of the existing knowledge base, including published scientific studies, indigenous and local knowledge (consistent with CBD Article 8(j)), case studies et cetera, and preparing a policy-relevant review for publication in a scientific journal
Promoting and facilitating the development of pilot activities including an inter-sectoral project on biodiversity for food and nutrition in Brazil, with a view to further such pilot activities in other countries
Preparing tools to aid implementation of the activities listed above

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme