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You cannot protect biodiversity without considering agriculture

Posted by Ricci Symons Monday, December 5, 2016

The ministerial round-table on agriculture at the UN's Biodiversity Conference highlighted the immense importance placed on agriculture when discussing protecting biodiversity.

After an opening from Mexico, each country was given an opportunity to share examples of how protecting biodiversity in their respective countries had gone, successes, lessons learned, the next steps and also any issues they wanted aired.
In their opening the Mexican ministry said, “all countries, producers and stakeholders need to take more responsibility.”

They talked about how agriculture consumes a massive percentage of fresh water, and leads to soil degradation, through over-use of fertilisers and deforestation. They highlighted that despite these issues agriculture by necessity was set to expand.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation says that by 2050 we will need to be producing 60 per cent more food. This is not good news for biodiversity because despite significant gains in sustainability agriculture still has an overall negative effect on biodiversity.
Every day though, countries around the world are protecting and regaining biodiversity and it is currently being ‘mainstreamed’ into agriculture.

The Brazilian ministry showcased the incredible advances they have made in the last 16 years. They built on the philosophy that the loss of biodiversity is everyone’s concern, but most especially small producers. They asked themselves how the world will be able to feed nine billion people by 2030 without sacrificing biodiversity? They answered it by protecting water reserves, limiting hunting, integrating native wildlife onto farms and ranches, legally protecting 20 per cent of all farmland and designating it for the protection of native species, investing in innovative technology, research and upscaling.

Brazil has leapfrogged many countries this century to become the first ranked country for protected areas. They have prioritised the protection of biodiversity, implementing biodiversity protection into every aspect of agriculture and are now ‘’encouraging everyone to do the same’’.

“We think that our efforts are commendable and should be replicated. We also believe that international trade needs to be addressed to reward countries who can prove that they are making great strides in protecting the environment.”

The Danish delegation stressed, as many others have, that, “Aichi will expire in 2020, with only four years left we don’t have much time left and must act accordingly.”
Biodiversity is the basis of agriculture. Without biodiversity, there is no agriculture, however agriculture has the ability to completely destroy biodiversity if not managed well.

Denmark finished by highlighting that they believe a major area for concern lies with pollinators being forced towards extinction. There is a win-win here, but in order to achieve it we must “protect bees, butterflies and birds”.

IFAD had a statement for this round-table, delivered by Margarita Astralaga, Director of IFAD's Environment and Climate Division’s. Astralaga highlighted how in agriculture we have lost nearly 75 per cent of crop diversity between 1900 and 2000. Today, only about 15 plants produce 90 percent of the world's food intake.

“Today, IFAD recognizes that loss of biodiversity is a major threat to small farmers and their communities, without biodiversity livelihoods are not sustainable and food security and nutrition for the entire planet is weakening.

"The full IFAD portfolio over the years has contributed to the achievement of most of the Aichi goals, and since 2004 has integrated biodiversity management into its investments in agriculture, livestock and aquaculture. Supporting good water management and soil management, promoting agroforestry and conservation agriculture, and promoting green value chains.”


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