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SBSTTA Recommandation

. Agricultural biodiversity: further development of the International Initiative for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Soil Biodiversity

Agricultural biodiversity: further development of the International Initiative for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Soil Biodiversity

    The Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice,

    Recommends that the Conference of the Parties:

    1.      Welcomes with appreciation the progress made by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and other collaborators, with the International Initiative for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Soil Biodiversity, and the report of the International Technical Workshop on Biological Management of Soil Ecosystems for Sustainable Agriculture, organized by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (EMBRAPA)-Soybean and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in Londrina, Brazil, from 24 to 27 June 2002;

    2.      Notes that the conservation and sustainable use of soil biodiversity is an important issue beyond agricultural biodiversity and is relevant to most terrestrial ecosystems;

    3.      Endorses the framework for action contained in the annex to the present recommendation as a basis for the further implementation of the International Soil Biodiversity Initiative;

    4.      Invites the Executive Secretary, Parties, other Governments, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and other interested stakeholders to:

    (a) Support and, where appropriate, implement the International Soil Biodiversity Initiative; and

    (b) Supply further case-studies on soil biodiversity to the International Soil Biodiversity Initiative in order to further strengthen the Initiative.



A. Strategic principles

1.      The strategy for the implementation of the International Initiative for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Soil Biodiversity should adhere to the following principles, many of which have already been emphasized through other processes and/or forums:

(a)      Focus on the improvement of farmers'livelihoods in relation to food security, soil biodiversity and other relevant land-use activities;

(b)      Build on previous experience and knowledge, through combining the skills and wisdom of farmers with modern scientific knowledge;

(c)      Focus on integrated holistic solutions and technical adaptation to local contexts within a clear framework that builds on the principles for application of the ecosystem approach;

(d)      Use participatory technology development and adaptive approaches to develop agricultural systems and land resource management practices for specific situations and farmer typologies that are technically and environmentally appropriate, economically viable, and socially and culturally acceptable;

(e)      Develop partnerships and alliances that demonstrate multidisciplinarity and foster synergies and ensure multi-stakeholder participation;

(f)      Promote cross-sectoral and interdisciplinary approaches to address different perspectives (social, political, environmental - including soil ecosystem services) through association and flexibility;

(g)      Prioritize actions on the basis of country goals and the needs of direct beneficiaries and locally validate such actions through the full participation of all actors;

(h)      Promote innovative and flexible solutions that are adapted to local conditions;

(i)      Promote information sharing and/or exchange of data, taking into account articles 8(j) and 8(h) of the Convention on Biological Diversity;

(j)      Promote entrepreneurship and marketing strategies for agro-production. 

B. Implementation

2.      The Initiative is to be implemented as a cross-cutting initiative within the programme of work on agricultural biodiversity, through the coordination, and with the technical and policy support, of FAO, with appropriate links to other thematic programmes of work of the Convention, particularly those on the biodiversity of dry and sub-humid lands, mountain and forest biological diversity, and with relevant cross-cutting issues, particularly the Global Taxonomy Initiative and work on technology transfer and cooperation.  The Initiative provides an opportunity to apply the ecosystem approach and the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines for Sustainable Use. The Initiative will liaise closely with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and its advisory bodies and processes in order to enhance synergies between the conventions and avoid the duplication of effort.

3.      Progress in implementation could be made through focusing, inter alia, on the following strategic areas of action:

(a)      Increasing recognition of the essential services provided by soil biodiversity across all production systems and its relation to land management, through:

    (i)      Research, information management, data collection, processing, dissemination, transfer of technologies, sharing and networking;

    (ii)      Public awareness, education and capacity-building;

    (iii)      Adoption of integrated, ecosystem-level approaches for the sustainable use of soil biodiversity and enhancement of agro-ecosystem functions; in particular in the FAO context focusing on three categories of outputs: assessment, adaptive management and advocacy and training;

(b)      Partnerships and cooperation through mainstreaming and cooperative programmes and actions.

C. Goals

1.      Promote awareness raising, knowledge and understanding of key roles, environmental services, functional groups and impacts of diverse soil management practices, including those performed by indigenous and local communities, in different farming systems and agro-ecological and socio-economic context.

2.      Promote the understanding of the impacts, ownership, and adaptation of all land use and soil-management practices as an integral part of agricultural and sustainable livelihood strategies.

3.      Promote the mainstreaming of soil biodiversity conservation into soil-management practices. 

Objective 1 - Sharing of knowledge and information and awareness-raising

Activity 1.1.: Within a common framework that recognizes the importance of determining processes affecting soil biodiversity, compile, synthesize, and evaluate case studies for practical advice and active dissemination, through, inter alia, the clearing-house mechanism, for use in awareness-raising, capacity-building and informing research.

Activity 1.2.: Create and strengthen networking arrangements for sharing of information, experiences and expertise with a focus on supporting local initiatives on the ground.

Activity 1.3.: Enhance public awareness, education and knowledge on integrated soil management and agro-ecological approaches.

Activity 1.4.: Develop information systems and databases.

Objective 2 - Capacity-building for the development and transfer of knowledge of soil biodiversity and ecosystem management into land use and soil management practices

Activity 2.1.: Evaluate capacity-building needs of farmers and other land managers, researchers, extension and/or advisory services and development programmes for integrated soil biological and ecosystems management.

Activity 2.2.: Develop, apply and adapt indicators and tools for assessment and monitoring of soil health and ecosystem functioning for global, regional, and national use and in line with the framework contained in decision VII/30.

Activity 2.3.: Promote adaptive management approaches for the development and uptake of improved soil biological management practices, technologies and policies that enhance soil health and ecosystem function, and that contribute to sustainable land use.

Activity 2.4.: Mobilize targeted participatory research and development in order to enhance understanding of soil biodiversity functions and ecosystem resilience in relation to land use and sustainable agriculture.

Objective 3 - Strengthening collaboration among actors and institutions and mainstreaming soil biodiversity and biological management into agricultural and land management and rehabilitation programmes

Activity 3.1.: Mainstream soil biodiversity and ecosystem management in agricultural and land management programmes and policies.

Activity 3.2.: Develop partnerships and collaborative activities for the development and implementation of the International Soil Biodiversity Initiative as a partnership between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Convention on Biological Diversity, taking into account the need for coordination with the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and its ongoing work in order to enhance synergies and avoid duplication of effort and utilizing other existing knowledge from initiatives connected with soil biodiversity in all terrestrial ecosystems.

Activity 3.3.: Promote the participation of indigenous and local communities in both the elaboration and implementation of management plans that relate to soil biodiversity.