1. The new challenge for agriculture in the expanding global economy is to achieve greater
stability and productivity on a sustainable basis, by introducing technologies and management
practices that would ensure a healthy environment, stability in production, economic efficiency,
and equitable sharing of social benefits. Biological diversity conservation and sustainable use is
a non-detachable part of the concept of sustainability.
2. An understanding of the dynamic evolutionary and environmental processes which shape and
influence agricultural biodiversity is fundamental to improving sustainable management and
conservation of agricultural ecosystems. Improved understanding of the impacts, either positive
or negative, of agricultural practices, will depend upon the contributions of science and
scientists, including traditional knowledge.
(i) Food security and poverty alleviation
3. The conservation and sustainable utilization of agricultural biological diversity makes a key
contribution to food security and poverty alleviation, through its application to improving
(ii) Farmers' knowledge
4. Actual and potential knowledge about local agricultural ecosystems generated by farmer
communities is an important key to optimizing the management of those agricultural ecosystems.
Much of the agricultural practices and knowledge are performed and maintained by women in
local societies in many regions of the world. The role of women for maintaining those skills and
knowledge is of fundamental importance.
5. All domesticated crops and animals result from human management of biological diversity.
The adaptation of agricultural biological diversity to different environments and uses has allowed
farmers to respond to new challenges for maintaining and increasing productivity.
(ii) Biocontrol organisms
6. Biological diversity provides a reservoir of biological control organisms that can either
naturally control pests or be used in integrated pest management, resulting in a reduction in the
use of pesticides while maintaining high yields.
(iii) Genetic adaptation to biotic and abiotic stresses
7. Traditional landraces of crops and livestock and wild species of plants and animals are a
source of genetic variability for the maintenance and recovery of resistant traits.
(iv) Insect pollinators
8. A large proportion of crops depend on pollination for good yield. It has been reported that one
in every three mouthfuls of food we eat depends on pollination by insects and other animals to
reach our kitchen tables.
(v) Soil biological diversity
9. The biological diversity of the soil ecosystem is a prerequisite and a vehicle for nutrient
circulation within agricultural ecosystems. Related to this is a number of mutualistic interactions
where soil biota are involved, e.g. earthworms and mycorrhizal functioning. The long-term
productivity of the agricultural ecosystem is directly dependent upon the integrity and function of
the soil's biological diversity. It should be noted, however, that the knowledge of the soil biota is
10. Soil organisms and micro-organisms respond to the maintenance of organic matter of
decomposition, nutrient cycling, soil structure, water balance, and fertility of soils.
(vi) Market responsiveness
11. Diversified crops are a protection against uncertainties in the market, especially for
12. Biological diversity is adding to the value and variation of cultivated crops and offering new
opportunities to farmers.
(vii) New species of economic importance
13. New species are continuously being added to our list of economically cultivated crops.
(i) Natural cycles/Life support
14. Living organisms play an important role in the resilience of all natural processes (life
support). They are essential agents for nitrogen, carbon, energy and water cycles, inter alia, and
therefore the species composition and their relationship may affect functioning and yields of
(ii) Wildlife management
15. Farmers all over the world have managed a variety of wild species and habitats which
benefit the sustainability of agricultural ecosystems.
(iv) Buffer against perturbation
16. A diverse environment offers a shield for agricultural ecosystems against perturbations,
natural or manmade. The diversity of species and habitats confers alternative structures and
functions, contributing to the resilience of agricultural ecosystems under environmental pressure.
17. Agricultural production utilizes natural resources of diverse ecosystems worldwide and is the
economic activity most representative as far as extension of land is concerned - nearly one-third
of the world's land area is used for food production. As a consequence, many adverse effects
may occur on biological diversity at on- and off-farm levels. Most of the world biological diversity
on land is harboured by areas under exploitation by humans, so conserving biological diversity
implies improving the ways agricultural ecosystems are managed.
18. Different agricultural practices lead to diverse impacts upon biological diversity. These
impacts occur on ecosystem, species and genetic levels.
19. Unsustainable agricultural practices have resulted in the degradation of habitats by
destruction of biotic and abiotic resources, as well as threats to the natural resource base to
agriculture, and socio-economic problems created by destruction of the local resource basis.
20. Inappropriate reliance on monoculture, over-mechanization and misuse of agricultural
chemicals diminish the diversity of fauna, flora and micro-organisms, including beneficial
organisms. Those practices normally lead to a simplification of the components of the
environment and to unstable production systems. In the same way, expansion of agriculture to
frontier areas, including forest, savannas, wetlands, mountains, and aridlands, combined with
overgrazing, and inadequate crop management and pest control strategies contribute to
degradation of biological diversity, as well as to the loss of cultural diversity of traditional
21. The world is changing rapidly in modern times, and agriculture along with it. The impacts of
today's agricultural practices upon biological diversity are not all well known, neither in the
present nor if they are extrapolated into the future. Agriculture has a history of over 10,000
years. The time perspectives for sustainability of agriculture ecosystems must be of a similar
22. Benefits to biological diversity have accrued from sustainable intensification of agriculture
around the world. Hundreds of millions of hectares of land, often in fragile, biological
diversity-rich environments, would have had to be ploughed were it not for the tremendous
advances, often based on the use of genetic diversity. Agricultural fields can also have positive
impacts in providing habitats for birds, insects and animals.
23. Agriculturalists have made strong efforts to preserve biological diversity important to
agriculture, both in situ and ex situ. Currently, progress is being made in many regions of the
world in implementing biological diversity-friendly agricultural practices in soil conservation,
withdrawing production from marginal areas, mastering chemical and nutrient runoff, and
breeding crop varieties which are genetically resistant to diseases, pests and abiotic stresses.
24. The field of agriculture offers a unique opportunity for the Convention on Biological Diversity
to link concerns with biological diversity conservation and sharing of benefits arising from the
use of genetic resources with the mainstream economy.
25. The SBSTTA activities in this field should focus on the interface between agricultural
sustainability and environmental issues. They should promote the integration of social, economic
and environmental considerations and provide advice on common problems relating to
agricultural biological diversity.
26. The SBSTTA recommends that the Conference of the Parties consider the contributions of
conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biological diversity to sustainable agriculture as
one of its key focal areas.
27. The SBSTTA recommends that the Conference of the Parties instruct the Secretariat to
establish a process which may lead to the development of a work programme or activities in this
field. There is a need to determine what issues are not being addressed in the activities and
work programmes of other organizations.
28. The SBSTTA recommends that the Conference of the Parties take note of the willingness of
FAO to continue serving countries in implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity in the
area of agricultural biological diversity. It was noted that the representative of FAO recalled, in
particular, the mandate of the FAO intergovernmental Commission on Genetic Resources for
Food and Agriculture as adopted in 1995 by FAO Council Resolution 1/110 which requested the
Organization to "respond to requests from the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on
Biological Diversity in the specific area of genetic resources of relevance to food and agriculture,
including the provision of information and other services to the Conference of the Parties and its
subsidiary bodies, especially in the areas of early warning systems, global assessment and
clearing house facilities, in particular and as appropriate, through the Global System for the
Conservation and Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture."
29. The SBSTTA recommends that the Conference of the Parties encourage Parties to actively
implement the Leipzig Global Plan of Action on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and
Agriculture. The SBSTTA further notes the important of the country-based FAO Global Strategy
of the Management of Farm Animal Genetic Resources.
30. The SBSTTA recommends that the Conference of the Parties encourage Parties to evaluate
and promote research and extension partnerships in research and development processes and
in evaluation of research and development programmes for sustainable agriculture. To achieve
this, countries should be encouraged to set up and maintain local-level forums for farmers,
researchers, and extension workers to meet, discuss and debate in a partnership which creates
an atmosphere of mutual respect and a free flow of information.
31. The SBSTTA recommends that the Conference of the Parties encourage:
(i) the transformation of unsustainable agricultural technological approaches into
sustainable production practices adapted to local biotic and abiotic conditions.
(ii) the development, maintenance and mobilization of local knowledge of farmers and of
farming communities, with special reference to gender roles in food production for
32. The SBSTTA recommends to the Conference of the Parties the need to study the positive
and negative impacts on ecosystems and biomes of agricultural transformation resulting from
intensification or extensification.
33. The SBSTTA recommends that the Conference of the Parties encourage at national and
regional levels adequate and appropriate services to farmers and responsiveness of public
research and extension services.
34. The SBSTTA should conduct a gap analysis of the activities and instruments related to
agricultural biological diversity in order to promote the conservation and sustainable use of
biological diversity in the agricultural sector. The SBSTTA recommends that the Secretariat
invite the FAO's collaboration in this task and consult other organizations as appropriate. The
results should be reported back to the SBSTTA with the objective of developing a multi-year
workplan. Other agencies would be invited to participate, as appropriate, when the SBSTTA has
identified priority issues to address.
35. Issues to be considered during the gap analysis could include, inter alia:
1. Pollinators, including consideration of the monitoring of the loss of pollinators worldwide;
the identification of the specific causes of pollinator decline; the estimation of the economic
cost associated with reduced pollination of crops; the identification and promotion of best
practices and technologies for more sustainable agriculture; and the identification and
encouragement of the adoption of conservation practices to maintain pollinators or to
promote their re-establishment;
2. Soil micro-organisms in agriculture, including consideration of: the measurement and
monitoring of the worldwide loss of Symbiotic Soil Micro-organisms (SSM), in particular
nitrogen-fixing bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi; the identification and promotion of the
transfer of technologies for the detection of SSM and their use to enhance nitrogen fixation
and phosphorous absorption; the estimation of the potential and actual economic gain
associated with reduced use of chemical N and P fertilization of crops with enhanced use
and conservation of SSM; the identification and promotion of best practices for more
sustainable agriculture; and the identification and promotion of conservation measures to
conserve SSM or to promote their re-establishment;
3. Biocontrol organisms;
4. Wild sources of food;
5. The relationship between biological diversity-friendly agricultural practices and market
6. Integrated land and resource management;
7. Traditional knowledge;
8. Possibilities for restoring degraded landscapes;
9. Role of botanical gardens as regards to agricultural biological diversity;
10. Interrelationship between agriculture and wildlife.
36. The SBSTTA recommends that the Conference of the Parties draw the attention of
international funding agencies, in particular the Global Environmental Facility, to the urgent need
to support the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity important to agriculture
and invite these agencies to provide information and feedback in this respect to the Conference
of the Parties.
37. The SBSTTA recommends that the Conference of the Parties invite countries to share case
study experiences addressing the variety of sustainable agricultural production systems and
practices. These should be posted through the clearing-house mechanism of the Convention.
38. The SBSTTA recommends that the Conference of the Parties encourage relevant
institutions to strengthen the culture of indigenous communities to encourage in-situ
conservation (sustainable use and management) of biological diversity.
39. The SBSTTA should consider agricultural biological diversity in its work programme on
indicators and methods of assessment in collaboration with other organization as appropriate.
40. The SBSTTA recommends to the Conference of the Parties that the development and
transfer of technology relevant to the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biological
diversity be promoted through the clearing-house mechanism by facilitating contacts among (i)
groups needing solutions to specific problems, (ii) holders of technologies developed and
maintained by many sources, including not only the private sector but also universities,
Governments and farmers, (iii) technology-transfer brokers, and (iv) enabling agencies which
fund technology transfer.
41. The SBSTTA recommends that the Conference of the Parties encourage Parties to develop
integrated resource management (IRM) to achieve sustainable high-yielding agricultural
ecosystems, for instance, Integrated Plant Nutrition Management and Integrated Pest
Management (IPM) with an emphasis on nutrient recirculation at the agricultural ecosystem level,
including crop rotation and inter-cropping.
42. The SBSTTA recommends that the Conference of the Parties encourage Parties to:
1. Encourage the development of technologies/farming systems that not only increase
productivity, but also arrest degradation as well as reclaim, rehabilitate, restore and
enhance biological diversity. These could include, inter alia, organic farming, integrated
pest management, biological control, no-till agriculture, multi-cropping, inter-cropping, crop
rotation, agricultural forestry.
2. Encourage efforts to appraise and disseminate knowledge used or retained by
indigenous and traditional communities, consistent with the Convention, in particular
Articles 8(j) and 10(c).
3. Encourage ex ante and/or ex post evaluation of impacts to biological diversity from
agricultural development projects, to assure the use of best practices to promote the
conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.
4. Encourage development and adoption of methods to assess and predict impacts on
biological diversity of agricultural technologies, practices and production systems.
5. Identify key components of biological diversity in agricultural production systems
responsible for maintaining natural processes and cycles, evaluating the effects of different
agricultural practices and technologies on those components and encouraging the adoption
of repairing practices to attain appropriate levels of biological diversity.