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Trio launches guide to mainstreaming biodiversity into Pacific Islands’ agriculture

Environmental Awareness Raising The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), on Friday, December 9, 2016 released a technical document that provides guidance on mainstreaming ecosystem services and biodiversity into agricultural production and management in the Pacific Islands.

The technical document was launched during the Forest and Agriculture Day at the Rio Conventions Pavilion
The technical document was launched during the Forest and Agriculture Day at the Rio Conventions Pavilion

Launched during the Forest and Agriculture Day at the Rio Conventions Pavilion, as part of the UN Biodiversity Conference currently taking place in Cancun, Mexico, the document is part of a series of technical guidance documents to identify key entry points for policy action and to foster cross-sectorial collaboration. It was funded by the European Union and jointly produced by the FAO, CBD and regional partner organisations.

The Rio Conventions Pavilion is a collaborative platform for raising awareness and identifying co-benefits for the implementation of the three Rio Conventions – the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the United nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

“To meet rising global food demands, the agriculture sectors need to produce greater quantities of more diverse and nutritious food. This progress can and must be achieved in a sustainable way, without causing more impacts on biodiversity,” said Mr. Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias, CBD Executive Secretary.

“This is particularly true for the Pacific Islands which are home to diverse and unique terrestrial and marine ecosystems. These ecosystems support a range of agricultural activities which are important to the economy but which also need to be managed in a sustainable way.”

The document introduces best practices for integrating biodiversity and ecosystem services into agriculture for the Pacific region, including: diversification and integration of farming systems (cropping, agroforestry and agrosilvipastoral systems); strengthening resilience of production systems and landscapes to the adverse effects of climate change or pest outbreaks; soil biodiversity to enhance soil health, nutrient transformation, soil decontamination, climate regulation; and ecological management to minimise chemical use. It also links ecotourism and agricultural zones to support environmental protection and agrobiodiversity preservation.

Biodiversity and ecosystem services can provide many solutions for sustainable increases in agricultural productivity. Agriculture relies on biodiversity to maintain soils health, pollination services, and control pests, weeds and diseases. Mainstreaming biodiversity can help agricultural production systems to deliver better outcomes for food and nutrition security, and at the same time, protect the environment.

“The ecological footprint of agriculture can be reduced through sustainable practices,” said Maria Helena Semedo, FAO Deputy Director-General, adding that “agriculture and food systems are biological and social systems and they can be designed to build on and harness the forces of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Agriculture can be regenerative at farm, landscape and community levels.”

The FAO, working closely with regional partners, has organised cross-sectoral consultations to integrate agriculture into countries’ revised National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) and has promoted dialogues to engage Ministries from different areas to collaborate in NBSAP implementation. NBSAPs are the main policy tool for implementing the CBD’s provisions at the national level and achieving the Convention’s Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

The first title in the series, Mainstreaming ecosystem services and biodiversity into agricultural production and management in East Africa, was released in May 2016. These initiatives are undertaken under the umbrella of the EU-ACP project “Capacity Building on Multilateral Environmental Agreements” (ACP-MEAs 2).

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