Agricultural Biodiversity

Programme Element # 4: Mainstreaming

Operational objective

To support the development of national plans or strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity and to promote their mainstreaming and integration in sectoral and cross-sectoral plans and programmes.


Many countries are now developing biodiversity strategies and action plans in the context of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and many also have a number of other policies, strategies and plans related to agriculture, the environment and national development. Moreover, countries have agreed on global action plans for major components of biological diversity, such as plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, and, in Agenda 21 and the World Food Summit Plan of Action, on plans for sustainable development and food security in general.

In most countries, activities related to agricultural biodiversity are undertaken primarily by ministries responsible for agriculture. There is clearly a need to mainstream the action plans for components of agricultural biodiversity in sectoral development plans concerned with food, agriculture, forestry and fisheries, and to promote synergy and avoid duplication between the plans for the various components. Together with other thematic programmes of work, this could contribute to the integration of biodiversity considerations in national plans.

Development and implementation of action plans requires reliable and accessible information, but many countries do not have well developed information, communication or early-warning systems or the capacity to respond to identified threats.


4.1. Support the institutional framework and policy and planning mechanisms for the mainstreaming of agricultural biodiversity in agricultural strategies and action plans, and its integration into wider strategies and plans for biological diversity, through:
  1. Support for relevant institutions in the conduct of assessments on the status and trends of agricultural biodiversity within the context of ongoing biodiversity and sectoral assessments;
  2. Development of policy and planning guidelines, and training materials, and support for capacity-building initiatives at policy, technical and local levels in agricultural and environmental forums for the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies, programmes and actions for the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity; and
  3. Improved consultation, coordination, and information-sharing within countries among respective focal points and lead institutions, relevant technical committees and coordinating bodies, to promote synergy in the implementation of agreed plans of action and between ongoing assessments and intergovernmental processes.

4.2. Support the development or adaptation of relevant systems of information, early warning and communication to enable effective assessment of the state of agricultural biodiversity and threats to it, in support of national strategies and action plans, and of appropriate response mechanisms.

4.3. Promote public awareness of the goods and services provided by agricultural biological diversity, and the value and importance of such diversity for agriculture and for society in general.

4.4. Promote ongoing and planned activities for the conservation, on farm, in situ, and ex situ, in particular, in the countries of origin, of the variability of genetic resources for food and agriculture, including their wild relatives.

Ways and means

Activities would be implemented primarily at national level through enhanced communication, coordination mechanisms and planning processes that involve all stakeholder groups, facilitated by international organizations, and by funding mechanisms.

This programme element should draw upon the experience of ongoing programmes (such as UNEP's support to national biodiversity strategies and action plans) and a critical analysis of existing practice.

National, regional and international projects and programmes that address policy and institutional development within specific sectors should make provision, as appropriate, for integration across sectors. Similarly, the development of guidelines should be carried out within the context of the objectives of this programme element.

Resources may need to be identified to further develop or adapt early-warning systems, including the capacity to identify thresholds and action needed, and for pilot examples of effective and sustainable response mechanisms to address threats at local, national and supranational levels.

Timing of expected outputs

Progressively increased capacity at national level for information management, assessment and communication. Over 100 countries to participate in various assessments under activities 1.1 and 1.2 by 2005.

Coordination between sectoral assessments and plans of action at national level in the majority of countries by 2005.

Range of guidelines published at the international level (on topics to be determined according to needs at national and regional levels).