The proposed framework of the biodiversity for food and nutrition initiative sets out a rationale for action, and an overall aim. General considerations are also given.


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). Such action 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 food security, nutrient deficiencies, and the emerging burden of non-communicable disease, will be lost.


The overall aim of the initiative is to promote and improve the sustainable use of biodiversity in programmes contributing to food security and human nutrition, as a contribution to the achievement of Millennium Development Goal 1, Goal 7 and related goals and targets and, thereby, to raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity, its conservation and sustainable use.

General considerations

The initiative is to be implemented as a cross-cutting initiative within the existing programme of work on agricultural biodiversity, and should complement relevant activities under this and other programmes of work and cross-cutting initiatives of the Convention. In addition, the initiative should build upon and strengthen other relevant existing initiatives, and avoid duplication of effort.

The initiative will apply the ecosystem approach, using interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral approaches in order to integrate health, education, agriculture and environmental objectives. In examining potential solutions to food and nutrition problems, activities under the initiative will look first to the biodiversity resources of local ecosystems, including existing intra-species diversity. As well, the social and cultural importance of food—as an inherent aspect of human existence and community organization—should be recognized as a positive motivating force for healthy diets and ecosystems.

A commitment to sustainability is essential to the success of the initiative The initiative will explore the potential of local and national markets to transact and deliver a greater diversity of plant food types to consumers, and to return greater value to those producing biodiversity-based products.

Activities under the initiative should be responsive to community needs, and developed with full community participation and engagement. Activities should seek to increase participation of local and indigenous communities in national and international institutions, programmes and processes, and should seek to increase coordination between all levels. Activities should contribute to ‘learning by doing’ and to adaptive management. Activities should be implemented taking into account the Voluntary Guidelines to Support the Progressive Realization of the Right to Adequate Food in the Context of National Food Security (the “Right-to-Food Guidelines”) adopted by the FAO in November 2004. Finally, existing activities should be scaled upwards to address a more global, cross-sectoral agenda, without losing local and cultural specificities.