Programme Element # 2: Adaptive Management

Operational objective

To identify management practices, technologies and policies that promote the positive and mitigate the negative impacts of agriculture on biodiversity, and enhance productivity and the capacity to sustain livelihoods, by expanding knowledge, understanding and awareness of the multiple goods and services provided by the different levels and functions of agricultural biodiversity.

Rationale

There are large and fairly well-defined research agendas for genetic resources for food and agriculture. These include the development of complementary conservation and use strategies, and a focus on developing the conservation and use of under-utilized species. There are also an increasing number of case-studies on, for example, farm and in situ conservation of genetic resources, and community integrated pest management. However, far more understanding is needed of the multiple goods and services provided by the different levels and functions of agricultural biodiversity. Much more research is needed, for example, to examine the relationship between diversity, resilience and production in agro-ecosystems.

A blend of traditional and newer practices and technologies is used in agriculture, which utilize, or impact on, agricultural biodiversity in different ways, with particular consequences for biological diversity and for the sustainability and productivity of agricultural systems. A better understanding and application of these complex interactions could help to optimize the management of agricultural biodiversity in production systems.

Such work is essential in order to meet the objectives of decision III/11 of the Conference of the Parties to promote the positive and mitigate the negative impacts of agriculture on biological diversity, and enhance productivity and capacity to sustain livelihoods.

Activities

2.1. Carry out a series of case-studies, in a range of environments and production systems, and in each region:
  1. To identify key goods and services provided by agricultural biodiversity, needs for the conservation and sustainable use of components of this biological diversity in agricultural ecosystems, and threats to such diversity;
  2. To identify best management practices; and
  3. To monitor and assess the actual and potential impacts of existing and new agricultural technologies.

This activity would address the multiple goods and services provided by the different levels and functions of agricultural biodiversity and the interaction between its various components, as set out in the appendix hereto with a focus on certain specific and cross-cutting issues, such as:
  1. The role and potential of wild, under-utilized and neglected species, varieties and breeds, and products;
  2. The role of genetic diversity in providing resilience, reducing vulnerability, and enhancing adaptability of production systems to changing environments and needs;
  3. The synergies and interactions between different components of agricultural biodiversity;
  4. The role of pollinators, with particular reference to their economic benefits, and the effects of introduced species on indigenous pollinators and other aspects of biological diversity;
  5. The role of soil and other below-ground biodiversity in supporting agricultural production systems, especially in nutrient cycling;
  6. Pest and disease control mechanisms, including the role of natural enemies and other organisms at field and landscape levels, host plant resistance, and implications for agro-ecosystem management;
  7. The wider ecosystem services provided by agricultural biodiversity;
  8. The role of different temporal and spatial patterns in mosaics of land use, including complexes of different habitats;
  9. Possibilities of integrated landscape management as a means for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

2.2. Identify and promote the dissemination of information on cost-effective practices and technologies, and related policy and incentive measures that enhance the positive and mitigate the negative impacts of agriculture on biological diversity, productivity and capacity to sustain livelihoods, through:
  1. Comprehensive analyses in selected production systems of the costs and benefits of alternative management practices as identified from activity 2.1, and the valuation of the goods and services provided by agricultural biodiversity;
  2. Comprehensive analyses of the impacts of agricultural production, including their intensification and extensification, on the environment and identification of ways to mitigate negative and promote positive impacts;
  3. Identification, at international and national levels, in close collaboration with relevant international organizations, of appropriate marketing and trade policies, legal and economic measures which may support beneficial practices:
    1. Promotion of neglected and under-utilized species, varieties and breeds;
    2. Promotion of local and indigenous knowledge;
    3. Measures to add value to products of production systems that sustain biodiversity, and to diversify market opportunities;
    4. Access and benefit-sharing measures and intellectual property issues;
    5. Economically and socially sound measures that act as incentives, in accordance with Article 11 and consistent with Article 22; and
    6. Training and capacity-building in support of the above.

2.3. Promote methods of sustainable agriculture that employ management practices, technologies and policies that promote the positive and mitigate the negative impacts of agriculture on biodiversity, with particular focus on the needs of farmers and indigenous and local communities.

Ways and means

Case-studies will be carried out and provided by national institutions, civil-society organizations, and research institutes, with support from international organizations for catalysing preparation of studies, mobilizing funds, disseminating results, and facilitating feedback and lessons learned to case-study providers and policy makers. Inputs would be sought from all relevant stakeholders.

Resources may need to be identified to promote such studies, to analyse the results and to provide necessary capacity-building and human-resource development, especially at the inter-community or district level. Where a need is identified, for example, through lessons learned from earlier case-studies, the Subsidiary Body on Technical, Technological Advice or the Conference of the Parties will be consulted to consider the promotion of regional or global programmes of case-studies, or focused research activities.

Timing of expected outputs

Thirty selected case-studies published, analysed and disseminated by 2005. The case-studies should be representative of regional issues and prioritize best practices and lessons learned that can be broadly applied.

  • United Nations
  • United Nations Environment Programme