Biodiversity as cornerstone to food security and sustainable development

Published on
February 27, 2019

The FAO Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture Assessments, has just published a milestone report on biodiversity for food and agriculture (BFA). The report presents the first global assessment of BFA. Lawrence Jones-Walters, programme leader Biodiverse Environment at Wageningen Environmental Research, says: “If you are ever in need of well-argued and articulate reasons for biodiversity protection, management and restoration, then you need look no further.”

The 572 page report states that BFA is indispensable to food security and sustainable development. Biodiversity at genetic, species and ecosystem levels helps address the challenges posed by diverse and changing environmental conditions and socio-economic circumstances. The report provides much needed arguments for the role of biodiversity in the context of agriculture and environmental change, in making production systems and livelihoods more resilient to shocks and stresses.

FAO Report is a wake-up call

The report makes also clear that many key components of biodiversity for food and agriculture at genetic, species and ecosystem levels are in decline. Jones-Walters: “Ironically, one of the key drivers for this decline is society’s understandable desire to fulfil the aims of food security for all, which has provided further fuel for the move towards increased production to feed the world. In recent times the research and industrial effort behind intensive farming has therefore provided a framework for further agricultural intensification and increased production. Market forces have combined with agricultural policy to drive the process forwards in a direction that has created an enormous economic success but also, as a result of its economic power, has been very difficult to influence or change.”

What can we do about it?

There is no doubt that we have a depth of skills and experience in WUR that is directly relevant to addressing these issues. WUR has in-house skills and experience, and the capacity to deliver such work within and beyond our national boundaries. Jones-Walters: “We are able to collaborate between teams, research groups and departments on order to provide the best possible combination of knowledge and we have the desire to be multidisciplinary – which is the key to the door for finding sustainable solutions to managing and restoring biodiversity as an indispensable cornerstone to food security and sustainable development.”