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• 30•05•2008 •

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Bonn, 19 - 30 May 2008

Negotiating global rules for Agricultural Biodiversity in support of Food Sovereignty;
Food crisis, Agrofuels, GE Trees - challenges for the CBD

Updated 30 May 2008

22 May, International Biodiversity Day: celebrated agricultural biodiversity
- the basis of life and livelihoods on Earth


CSO Newsletters

PDF file - use Acrobat Reader 27 May ECO # 7: Progress Report on COP9; Make PoWPA a reality; Women and Biodiversity; Canada and Japan stalling on ABS; Anywhere but Canada!; COP Hor[r]o[r]scope; Biodiversity Offsets

PDF file - use Acrobat Reader 26 May ECO # 6: Will COP 9 be the death of 8(j)?; Sustainable Consumption and Production; Tourism and Biodiversity; Japan making waves (again); EU and ABS; Food prices hike in spite of record production levels

PDF file - use Acrobat Reader 23 May ECO # 5: Gene Giants Brand Themselves as Climate Saviours; UN criticizes genetically engineered crops in Indian Agriculture; Who is implementing the Forest PoW?; 2010 Target, Protected Areas, and Life-web; Stocks down on Thursday; Addressing hunger and food security: conserving agricultural biodiversity locally; Notes from the COP

PDF file - use Acrobat Reader 22 May ECO # 4: No more "Failures-as-Usual" - Call to Action on the World Food Emergency; Jeffrey Sachs’ Shocking History; Ocean Fertilization and COP9; Captain Hook Awards for Biopiracy 2008; High Hopes for High Seas; Nature is more than carbon; Notes from the COP

PDF file - use Acrobat Reader 21 May ECO # 3: No protected areas without recognition of rights; Who is afraid of NGOs’ proposals? Canada !; Invasive Alien Species: An Ounce of Prevention; Alternative COP theme Song; Should Parties subsidize business engagement in the CBD process?; Youth Demands to COP 9; Notes from the COP

  • 9th Conference of the Parties of the
    Convention on Biological Diversity
    , 19 - 30 May 2008


    The Bonnfire of Biodiversity: fuelling the food crisis

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    The Bonnfire of Biodiversity: fuelling the food crisis

    nori ignacio, searice & patrick mulvany, practical action

    Click Here to see ECO 9 @ COP 9

    Despite valiant efforts by some countries at this COP, agricultural biodiversity - the basis of livelihoods and life on Earth - will continue to haemorrhage. As happened in 1974, the combination of energy hikes, commodity shortages and speculation, has created a crisis. This is the reason why Ban Ki-moon, Lula and Sarkozy will be among the many leaders who will be in Rome next week to participate in the high level conference on world food security hosted by FAO.

    This crisis is also, however, an opportunity for the powerful who will use it to push through top-down agricultural intensification for food, feed and fuel, with more chemical inputs, accelerated science and technology programmes, and a rapid conclusion of the Doha Development Round. Agribusiness will benefit.

    The leaders in Rome will note the impacts of climate change, agrofuels and other threats – and the need to ensure that these do not affect food security – but they will not resist the quick fix solutions that destroy agricultural biodiversity. The small-scale farmers, livestock keepers, fisherfolk and Indigenous Peoples who feed the world and sustain the biosphere, will lose out.

    Biodiversity will be sacrificed on the altar of profit.

    Governments cannot plead ignorance. Not only have they been informed by the consistent statements of civil society organisations and social movements calling for more biodiversity-based agriculture, localised food systems, food sovereignty and the realisation of the rights of farmers and other food providers to their seeds, livestock breeds, land and waters – free of the proprietary grasp of corporations. Governments have also recently approved the findings of the World Bank / UN assessment of agriculture – the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD).

    In the words of the IAASTD Director Bob Watson, reporting on the assessment at the COP Side Event last week, “Business as usual is not an option... Agriculture, with farmers making up half of the world's total labour force, 1.8 billion people, and caring for 38% of the Earth's land surface, must be part of the solution to [sustaining] biodiversity.”

    He went further to highlight that of all the aspects of biodiversity, the interface with agriculture has perhaps the greatest potential for practical, sustainable solutions that are implemented because they benefit both people and natural ecosystems. But the way agriculture is practiced has to change if these benefits are to be realised; if it does not change, there will be increased hunger, inequity and environmental degradation.

    Farmers and other food providers must, therefore, be drivers of biodiversity conservation through sustainable use, using more agroecological biodiversity-based methods that defend all dimensions of agricultural biodiversity.

    Civil Society is watching and informing the wider public: those who are undermining biodiversity and the security of food supplies will be made accountable. In their Statement on the world food emergency, published last week on International Biodiversity Day (see ), Civil Society called on the Human Rights Council to investigate those who threaten the Right to Food. They also stressed the need for a UN-backed, inclusive, long-term Commission to solve the generation-long food emergency:

    no quick fixes!


    Biodiversity and the findings of the IAASTD could be easily forgotten in the rush to seize the opportunity of the food crisis… unless in the dying hours of the COP, Parties strongly endorse the words of the African Region at the High Level Segment. Referring especially to agrofuels, Africa called for a development that “ does not undermine other central priorities such as food security or threaten biodiversity and ecosystems which are the best guarantee that humanity has for the future of life on Earth.

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    Women's Caucus statement to Plenary

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    Women and Biodiversity
    Statement from representatives of the Women’s Caucus during the COP 9
    Bonn 23-24 May 2008

    We are women scientists, activists, mothers, peasants, producers, consumers, teachers… from different countries all over the world. We speak on our own behalf and also on behalf of the voiceless women of the world. Worldwide anti-democratic structures and development models have often no respect for us women, our decision-making needs, our power and our creativity.

    Biodiversity is being threatened, as are women’s dignity and lives, indigenous cultures, local communities and humanity in general. The work and caretaking done by women has been rendered invisible. The patriarchal vision is based on contempt and lack of appreciation of the role of women in enhancement and production of biodiversity.

    This dominating model forgets that besides giving birth to men and women that inhabit this planet, we also preserve food sovereignty, food security, work for peace, secure our seeds, maintain our traditions, memories and visions.

    Due to our wisdom and that of our mothers and grandmothers, we must resist the imposition of models that affect us negatively through privatization and monopolisation and are only oriented to the accumulation of money. We must turn our eyes to the local cultures and the special work and needs of women. It is thanks to them, that what is still left has been preserved.

    Therefore we say:
    - No to the reduction of life-forms to chemicals or natural and
    financial resources, as seen in the development of nanotechnology
    or synthetic biology
    - No to patents of life, biopiracy or cultural piracy
    - NO to GMO´s, and for actual reasons especially NO to GMO Trees.
    - No to industrial agro-fuels and nuclear energy as so called solutions to climate change.

    We demand for all women the right to maintain and share their own seeds and to have free access to seeds from other sources.

    Women need their own forms of full participation and benefit sharing within all levels of biodiversity policies and control within ecologically sound livelihoods. Land rights should be given especially to women in rural areas and property rights to all women to overcome the poverty and hunger amongst women and girls.

    With our demands we refer to our achievements within the UN System, such as Agenda 21, Chapter 24 and 28, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), The Beijing Platform of Action 1995, especially chapter K on Women and Environment and the Millennium Development Goal No. 3.

    Therefore we support that there is a Gender Action Plan under CBD and extra budgetary resources for it. We hope that the Gender Mainstreaming and Capacity Building related to the Gender Action Plan will include enough independent expertise on biodiversity.

    We are deeply concerned that within the CBD process in general, independent experts, not paid by powerful stakeholders, are almost ignored.
    Finally our priority must be a sustainable economy, based on values like diversity, dignity, cultural identity, and above all respect for life.

    Bonn, 23.05.2008
    WECF – Women in Europe for a Common Future (Netherland/Germany) Sabine Brueckmann
    Women for Peace and Ecology (Germany) Eva Quistorp
    grandmothers for peace (Germany-section)Eva Quistorp
    SEI – Social Ecolgical Institute (Poland) Elzbieta Lenarcyzk-Priwieziencew
    The Grail Women’s Movement (South Africa and other countries)Marylin Aitken
    The El-Molo Eco-Tourism, Rights and Development Forum (Kenya)
    Department of Environmental Quality Promotion (Thailand)
    Club Des Entrepreneurs du pays de Grasse (France)

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    Via Campesina celebrates International Biodiversity Day

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    Yesterday afternoon activists from all over the world hung a banner, banged on teacups and handed out messages from Via Campesina, the international peasant movement, during the official celebrations of International Biodiversity Day at the 9th Conference of Parties (COP) of the UN Convention on Biodiversity. This was meant to be a celebration of agricultural biodiversity - yet, not one farmer, pastoralist, fisher or Indigenous Peoples' representative was invited to participate. Via Campesina's offer to participate in the formal agenda was refused despite promises from the Secretariat of the CBD.

    The Via Campesina action was just after the message from the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, to the delegates of the Convention. The banners read "No Agro-Diversity Without Farmers" and "No Food For Fuels".

    Members of Via Campesina were applauded by delegates when they chanted "nature for people, not for business". After a few minutes the banners were removed by security and the people holding them were escorted out of the Maritim Hotel, and their accreditation to the COP was cancelled.

    Prior to the banner hanging action, members of Via Campesina and their supporters disrupted an industry lunch with a play which depicted agro-industrialists congratulating each other for their excellent work at monopolizing the farm seeds and destroying agricultural biodiversity.

    The side event following the lunch was sponsored by all the Gene Giants, Agribusiness and The International Federation of Agricultural Producers.

    Via Campesina is sounding an alarm bell about the corporate interests which are advocating for a new Green Revolution in Africa as a strategy to increase productivity. Although agribusiness uses concepts such as "sustainability", "participation" and "biodiversity management", the production models proposed are the same as those which have created the present crisis and the rapidly increasing loss of biodiversity.

    According to Via Campesina, supported by many others present at the COP, small-scale famers are key to eradicating both world hunger as well as developing and safeguarding the world's biodiversity.

    Small-scale farmers, in contrast, have the ability to feed the world. Peasant agriculture promotes agricultural biodiversity, sustains traditional cultures and protects the environment. Moreover, small-scale, local and agroecological production is an effective and immediate way of reducing carbon emissions and cooling down the planet.

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    CSO Statement on Agricultural Biodiversity to Working Group 1

    20 May 15:15h

    presented by Patrick Mulvany, Practical Action

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    (The following text is the full version of the Statement - a shorter version was presented at the request of the Chair)

    Statement to WG 1: 20 May

    Thank you, Chair, I am speaking on behalf of the CSO caucus @ COP 9 working on agricultural biodiversity.

    We support the statements of the previous speaker from Indigenous and Local Communities, of FAO this morning and of Via Campesina, the global peasant movement, yesterday.

    The CBD has a historic opportunity in the ongoing food emergency and climate crisis to reverse the rapid erosion of agricultural biodiversity that underpins all food production. The sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity in all agroecosytems is a vital part of the solution to hunger, climate change and poverty reduction in all relevant forums including the UN/FAO High Level Food Summit in June that will address world food security, climate change and agrofuels.

    With reference to specific text of COP/9/1/add2 we have 4 points we wish to emphasise.

    1. International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD)

    We support the intervention of Switzerland , and since the IAASTD findings have been published since SBSTTA 13, we urge that they should now be specifically cited in this Agricultural Biodiversity Decision and they should be promoted by the CBD and Parties in all relevant forums. The dramatic erosion of agricultural biodiversity and its resilient ecosystems will escalate unless small-scale food providers' agroecological production systems and food sovereignty in which they develop diverse seeds and livestock breeds are prioritised and protected .

    In particular, Parties must heed the warnings in IAASTD that monopoly controlled, industrial agriculture and livestock production is not sustainable, it is necessary to internalise of all external costs and to refocus agricultural knowledge, science and technology towards smaller-scale agroecological production.

    2. Agrofuels (Paras 29 & 30 and paper 26 ref: XII/7 of the twelfth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (UNEP/CBD/COP/9/2 )

    We support the concerns raised by Liberia on behalf of the African Group concerning large-scale agrofuels and their impacts on climate change and food security.

    We call on COP to strengthen its decision in para 30 - and we opt for the third alternative in general – but call on COP to decide on an immediate ban on all generations of industrial agrofuels. We do not believe that sustainable certification can prevent the damage. In particular we support the suspension of related production and use targets as proposed in para 30 ter sub para c).

    Industrial agrofuels are a serious and ever-increasing threat to biodiversity stimulating large monocultures and infrastructure to serve them. They are a false solution to Climate Change put forward by industry, funded through perverse incentives, consolidating agribusiness control over agriculture.

    No generation of industrial agrofuels can ever be sustainable and their expansion will inevitably lead to the loss of biodiversity.

    3. Perverse incentives ( Para 7e)

    [(e) The impacts on sustainable development of perverse agricultural incentives, especially related measures that distort international trade, on the biodiversity of other countries;]

    COP must go further than asking FAO to compile and disseminate information. It must decide to implement legally-binding rules to outlaw measures and perverse incentives for industrial agriculture and livestock production, including for industrial agrofuel production and its land grabs, which threaten agricultural biodiversity and the agroecological systems that support it.

    4. On-farm conservation and development (Paras 9 – 11 & Para 18)

    [Farmers Rights and the On-farm Conservation and Participatory Plant Breeding]

    The realisation of Farmers Rights' is a cornerstone of the International Treaty. It is a precondition for on-farm conservation and the sustainable use of crop and animal genetic resources. Farmers' Rights are thus essential for the fulfilment of the objectives of the CBD with respect to agricultural biodiversity and food security. Farmers' Rights enable farmers to innovate, to engage in participatory plant breeding, and steward their lands in sustainable ways. They are a critical mechanism for rewarding farmers for their contribution to the global pool of genetic resources.

    Parties must, therefore, promote Farmers' Rights and the on-farm conservation of seeds and livestock breeds, funding these activities at a level similar or greater to the funding provided for ex situ conservation. Parties should recognize and enforce the rights of farmers to save, exchange, breed and sell seeds without restriction . Parties must reject IPRs, seed laws, contracts and technologies that threaten Farmers' Rights. For example, the EU should not be permitted to undermine the moratorium on Terminator seeds through its “Transcontainer” project.

    COP must also intervene and prevent the monopolisation of climate ready genes by BASF and MONSANTO in their $1.5bn joint research and development agreement. Collectively the Multinationals have filed for 532 Patents on climate ready genes in patent jurisdictions all over the world.


    International Biodiversity Day, this Thursday 22 May, will be a celebration of Agricultural Biodiversity and the contributions by small-scale food providers of the world. COP must use this opportunity to promote agricultural biodiversity and locally-controlled food sovereignty as a sustainable solution to the food emergency and climate crisis.

    Chair, distinguished Delegates, take decisive action now: agricultural biodiversity is essential for sustaining life and livelihoods on Earth.

    Thank You


    CSO Statement to the Opening Plenary

    19 May 13:00h

    presented by Camila Moreno,

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    Thank you Chair.

    On 17-18 May over 140 representatives from international civil society organizations gathered in Bonn to prepare for C OP 9. We have identified 9 priorities.

    The global food and hunger emergency has risen to critical proportions -- an emergency propelled by the agrofuels boom, commodity speculation, corporate hegemony and the ever-present climate crisis. This is already triggering crisis in all ecosystems and is profoundly affecting crops, livestock, fisheries and forests and the billions of people whose livelihoods depend on them. As a result, we are losing the very resources that we need to confront climate chaos and the food emergency. Now at C OP 9 we have a vital role in addressing these issues.

    Women and men farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolk, forest dwellers and Indigenous Peoples who nurture local biodiversity hold the key to sustaining life and livelihoods on Earth.

    COP 9 must avoid at least three false solutions.

    1. Agrofuels:

    Industrial agrofuels are a serious and ever-increasing threat to biodiversity stimulating large monocultures and infrastructure to serve them. They are a false solution to C limate C hange put forward by industry, funded through perverse incentives, consolidating their control over agriculture. No generation of industrial agrofuels can ever be sustainable and their expansion will inevitably lead to the loss of biodiversity. We therefore call for an immediate ban on all industrial agrofuel production and related targets.

    2. Genetically Engineered Trees:

    The development of GE trees reinforces a destructive industrial forestry model and irreversibly results in the contamination of forests and other native ecosystems, which will present a serious threat to biodiversity and peoples. The C BD must accept the responsibility given it to protect biological diversity, and abiding by the precautionary principle ban genetically engineered trees.

    3. Climate technofixes

    Technology fixes that will geo-engineer the planet at the cost of biodiversity must not be permitted. We call for a prohibition on the granting of carbon credits for attempts to capture carbon - such as growing plantations for biomass sequestration – and a prohibition on ocean fertilization.

    There are six areas where C OP 9 could achieve genuine solutions.

    1. The Ecosystem Approach

    The rights enshrined in the 2007 UN Declaration on the Rights of indigenous Peoples should form the basis for the implementation of the Ecosystem approach with effective participation of Indigenous peoples and local communities.

    2. Agricultural Biodiversity

    Local communities and indigenous peoples' agroecological production systems, in which they develop diverse seeds and livestock breeds on farm, could reverse the serious losses in agricultural biodiversity. C OP must implement and strengthen Farmers Rights and the EU must stop undermining the Terminator moratorium through the transcontainer project.

    3. Access and Benefit-Sharing

    C OP 9 must finally take real steps to end biopiracy. The ABS Working Group must leave Bonn with the necessary resources and the unambiguous mandate to work alongside indigenous peoples and local communities to secure their rights, by drafting a legally-binding ABS regime for adoption at C OP 10.

    4. Forests

    The forests that the C BD protects on paper are being destroyed in nature. Perverse economic incentives that destroy forests must be ended through enforced commitments. Monoculture tree plantations must be recognized as a threat not a solution. The knowledge of indigenous peoples and local communities must guide the process of establishing a systemic ecosystem approach to forest biological diversity.

    5. Protected Areas

    The most effective means to reduce biodiversity loss in the Programme of Work on Protected Areas are the ones so far least implemented. This includes in particular Governance, Participation, Equity and Benefit Sharing and the recognition of Indigenous and C ommunity C onserved Areas. Financing mechanisms must not violate the rights of Indigenous peoples and local communities.

    6. Marine Biodiversity

    The process of preparing the criteria for the protection of marine areas in open ocean waters and deep sea habitats remarkably failed to include the knowledge and participation of indigenous and other artisanal fishers. While Parties must adopt the criteria tabled, they must urgently work to complement them through the full and effective participation of these communities.

    Thank you


    Agricultural Biodiversity: securing future food

    Agricultural Biodiversity Caucus @ COP9

    Top of Page

    The CBD has a historic opportunity in the ongoing food emergency to reverse the rapid erosion of agricultural biodiversity that underpins all food production.

    Agricultural biodiversity must be promoted as a vital part of the solution to hunger, climate change and poverty reduction. However, the decisions adopted thus far by the CBD have failed to prevent the dramatic erosion of agricultural biodiversity and its resilient ecosystems.

    Knowledgeable farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples create and protect agricultural biodiversity through their stewardship of nature, using agroecological methods and developing diverse seeds and livestock breeds. Unless their agroecological production systems and food sovereignty are prioritised and protected from biodiversity-damaging industrial agriculture and associated global trade agreements that facilitate increased concentration of markets, the losses of agricultural biodiversity will escalate.

    Parties must promote on-farm conservation and sustainable use of seeds and livestock breeds and recognize and enforce the rights of farmers to save, exchange and sell seeds without restriction . T hese rights are threatened by IPRs, seed laws, contracts and technologies that control germination and the E U should therefore not be permitted to undermine the moratorium on Terminator seeds through its “transcontainer project”.

    In its agricultural biodiversity decision, this COP must implement legally-binding rules to outlaw measures and perverse incentives, including for industrial agrofuel production and its land grabs, that threaten agricultural biodiversity and the agroecological systems that support it. COP must also urgently agree actions to promote agricultural biodiversity in all agroecosytems and locally-controlled food sovereignty as a sustainable solution to the food emergency. The CBD should present this as its contribution to the UN Food Summit in June.

    19 May ECO @ COP 9


    Challenges for COP on Agricultural Biodiversity

    Top of Page

    The COP needs to be visionary. The need to back a ‘paradigm shift', as called for by FAO at SBSTTA 13, towards biological intensification of agricultural systems and away from chemically-dependent production of food. This has been backed by the UN/World Bank IAASTD that recognises, as does the CBD, that sustaining ecosystem functions derived from agricultural biodiversity is essential for securing future food supplies. .

    COP 9 will have a lot of work to do, not only ‘unbracketing' precautionary text on biofuels, climate change and perverse incentives. Parties will also need to insert new language that takes the programme of work forward to address the challenges of conservation, sustainable use and development of agricultural biodiversity, especially on-farm, where it can adapt to new challenges, such as climate change – both mitigation and adaptation.

    COP 9 has much to build on, not least the landmark Decision III/11 and its Annex 1, see , and Decision V/5, with its programme of work and agreement, reconfirmed by COP 8, to a moratorium on the field testing and commercialisation of Terminator technology. Also the multiple efforts of countries and organisations and especially food providers themselves, emphasised by Indigenous Peoples and Via Campesina at SBSTTA 13, about their work on agricultural biodiversity and the constraints to their inalienable rights to use, develop, exchange and benefit from this.


    It also has some text, that although somewhat buried could be given the oxygen of exposure as priority issues in the COP Decision. In the BOX below extracted from the 7 pages of text of the Recommendation are 8 points are of interest that could be strengthened. None is particularly new, they are issues that have been discussed before. But each illustrates a key area for future work of the CBD if it is to achieve its mandate and sustain Life on Earth.


    There is much left to do between now and COP 9. The good text must be defended and strengthened and preparations must be made to ensure rejection of any negative text, that is not in the Recommendation at present but might be introduced e.g. on the transfer of ‘new technologies' (i.e. biotechnology) or ‘genetic modification' or ‘Terminator/ GURTS' etc.


    The major debates at COP 9 will centre on the bracketed text on agrofuels, climate change mitigation and perverse incentives. But on the latter, more should be done, to make clearer the ultimately self-defeating and biodiversity-reducing effects of supporting chemically-based intensive industrial food production systems and to Decide, not only to call for the removal of perverse incentives but to recommend increased incentives and support for biodiversity-enhancing agriculture, controlled by small-scale food providers.


    Let us hope Parties take up the challenge to make this Decision ‘visionary' and competent to face up to the challenges of the 21 st century. And that on Agrofuels, in particular, the potential Bonnfire of Biodiversity can be prevented by COP 9.

    “The Parties to the CBD need to seize this historic moment and:

    •  Put culture back into agriculture

    •  Put biology back into biodiversity

    •  Put food sovereignty, food providers and their social organisations at the centre of agricultural biodiversity policy and practice “

    Ref: ECO 21-1 ‘Food Providers hold the Key – the CBD has the Mechanism'


    Text Box: Selected text from CBD/SBSTTA/13/L.2   Recommendations on the review of the Agricultural Biodiversity Programme of Work    On-farm conservation (part of adaptation and capacity building)  10. Invites Parties, other Governments, relevant international and regional organizations, local and indigenous communities, farmers, pastoralists and plant and animal breeders to promote, support and remove constraints to on-farm and in situ conservation of agricultural biodiversity through participatory decision-making processes in order to enhance the conservation of plant and animal genetic resources, related components of biodiversity in agricultural ecosystems, and related ecosystem functions;    Participation:  12. Urges Parties, other Governments, and relevant organizations, to engage indigenous and local communities, farmers, pastoralists, animal breeders and other stakeholders, including those whose livelihoods depend on the sustainable use and conservation of agricultural biodiversity, to apply the ecosystem approach to agriculture…    Programme of Work:  16. Urges Parties, other Governments and relevant organizations:  (a) To strengthen dialogue with farmers, including through international and national farmers' organizations, as appropriate, in the implementation of the programme of work;  (b) To promote opportunities for indigenous and local communities, and local stakeholders to participate in the development and implementation of national biodiversity strategies, action plans and programmes for agricultural biodiversity; and  (c) To improve the policy environment to support local-level management of agricultural biodiversity;    Thematic focus on Pollinators, Soil Biodiversity and Food and Nutrition  23…. to carry out further work and compile and disseminate information to improve the understanding of soil biodiversity, its interaction with above-ground biodiversity, and other soil functions, the various ecosystem services that it provides, and the agricultural practices that affect it, and to facilitate the integration of soil biodiversity issues into agricultural policies     Climate Change:  26. Encourages Parties and other Governments, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and indigenous and local communities and other stakeholders, to gather, information on lessons learned about the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity, and integrate these into climate-change adaptation [and mitigation] planning [and cross-sectoral planning in agricultural areas],    27. … to gather and disseminate information, on:…  (b) Ways and means to build resilience into food and agricultural livelihood systems as part of strategies for climate change adaptation, especially in communities of developing countries that are dependent on rain-fed agriculture for local food supplies;   (c) how vulnerable communities, especially in developing countries, might adapt to the  impacts of climate-induced changes in agricultural practice;    (COMMENT: there is no call in this Recommendation to insert the above into the UNFCCC adaptation negotiations. A separate Recommendation on Climate Change gets closer to recommending this, but even there, Parties hold back… why?)    Agrofuels:  (COMMENT: the whole section on biofuels is bracketed and some Parties claim that some of the text was not even discussed at SBSTTA 13. There is also reference to the SBSTTA 12/7 recommendation on biofuels that will be brought in to the agricultural biodiversity debate at COP 9)    [30 (c) Requests that Parties immediately adopt a precautionary approach by suspending the introductions of any new supportive measures for the consumption of biofuels…]    Research:  33. c) To further investigate the use of agricultural biodiversity to develop sustainable agricultural systems that contribute to improved livelihoods, enhance biodiversity and make use of its benefits, as well as conserving the most vulnerable and potentially useful species;    General considerations  34. Welcomes the adoption of the multi-year programme of work of the FA0 Intergovernmental Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, whose implementation would also contribute to the implementation of the Convention programmes of , in particular the programme of work on agricultural biodiversity;


    PDF file - use Acrobat Reader Download Text of SBSTTA Agricultural Biodiversity Recommendation L.2

    The full text of the Decision contains references to most of the ongoing work on agricultural biodiversity but is weak. It does not call for the 'paradigm shift' towards biologically-based intensification of agriculture and away from chemically-dependent production that is necessary. Small mercies that the Recommendation still retains some reference to sustaining ecosystem functions related to agricultural biodiversity that are so essential for securing future food supplies. (But even this small reference was under threat from Australia, late in the night... ).

    In the 'highlighted' document accessible through the link below, key points relating to the role and inclusion of food providers in the conservation and use of agricultural biodiversity, the importance of ecosystem functions and other key points are highlighted in yellow.

    PDF file - use Acrobat Reader Download Text of SBSTTA Agricultural Biodiversity Recommendation L.2 with key points highlighted


    Food Providers Hold the Key - CBD has the Mechanism

    Top of Page

    (PDF file - use Acrobat Reader download full text)

    Comment on the CBD's work on Agricultural Biodiversity .
    by Patrick Mulvany, PracticalAction

    After 12 years of debate, it is high time to put biodiversity-based agriculture at the heart of the CBD; adaptation through local management of agricultural biodiversity by food providers is essential for food sovereignty and planetary health in a warming world

    The challenge for the CBD is that without radical transformation of the dominant model of industrial agriculture, livestock production and fisheries, not only will food providers and agricultural biodiversity continue to disappear but hunger will increase as will global warming. To forestall this, among other things, the CBD needs to decisively involve the social organisations of food providers in its work.


    The food insecurity created by vulnerable, uniform and genetically weak monocultures and cloned livestock and fish of the industrial model will stalk future generations. What is needed in an unpredictable world is more not less diversity, collective not monopoly control of resources, localised not global food systems – systems that conserve rather than consume carbon.


    The CBD will fail in its mission if it does not confront the tsunami of corporate control of the food system from seed to sewer. In place of this it must assert the primacy of agricultural biodiversity controlled by local people over economics controlled by unaccountable TNCs.


    The CBD needs to stem the tide of corporate control of food and nature when revising its Programme of Work on Agricultural Biodiversity – opening the space in international and national policy as well as for local actions that will sustain agricultural biodiversity for livelihoods, living landscapes and the production of healthy local food.


    The key to these local actions is held by small-scale family and peasant farmers, pastoralists, artisanal fisherfolk, Indigenous Peoples, forest dwellers and other food providers who know how to develop and manage a broad diversity of species, varieties and breeds – our agricultural biodiversity that underpins food sovereignty and resilient production systems in the face of multiple threats.


    Agricultural biodiversity is more than colourful seeds, vegetables and fruits displayed in biodiversity boutiques. It is the product of the ingenuity of women and men whose knowledge and skills over millennia have crafted myriad varieties and breeds adapted to a multitude of ecosystems and suited to every social, cultural and economic need. It is the diversity of all species above and below the ground and in aquatic systems that have co-evolved with people to provide food, fodder, natural fibre and thriving ecosystem functions that sustain life on Earth.


    However, there is a haemorrhage of these vital resources accelerated by the spread of the dominant model of industrial agriculture for commodities and agrofuels, intensive livestock production and extractive fisheries, contaminating those resources that remain with proprietary GMOs. These losses are exacerbated by inequitable trade and commercial agreements, seed laws and intellectual property rights systems that undermine farmers', livestock keepers' and indigenous peoples' rights.


    A countervailing policy framework exists that will defend agricultural biodiversity: food sovereignty. This is the policy proposal of small-scale farmers who know how to provide good, wholesome food. It puts them and other food providers centre-stage in the food system and prioritises the needs of consumers for nutritious foods, sourced as locally as possible.

    The core principles of food sovereignty cover all dimensions of a food system that will provide food in the long-term rather than short-term profits. It f ocuses on food for people rather than internationally tradeable commodities. It values food providers rather than eliminating them. It localises food systems rather than dependence on inequitable global trade. It puts control locally instead of by unaccountable corporations. It builds knowledge and skills that conserve and develop local food production and rejects alien technologies such as GMOs. It works with nature in diverse agroecological systems rather than energy-intensive production methods which damage the environment and contribute to global warming.


    What is required of the Parties to the CBD is to put biodiversity-based agriculture at its core. The Parties should call for regulation of industrial food systems that destroy this biodiversity. They should also increase priority for the conservation and development of agricultural biodiversity, and the enhancement of ecosystem functions, in agroecological systems managed by food providers where they live – on-farm by small-scale farmers, on the range by pastoralists, in inland and coastal waters by artisanal fisherfolk…

    …and policies and practices are needed that will facilitate an increase in exchanges of GM-free seeds, livestock breeds and other genetic resources for food and agriculture, between communities, countries and continents. For example, more exchanges of diverse seeds between farmers in warmer areas to those in cooler areas, between those in wetter areas to others in drier areas and vice versa.


    Yet, existing policies, laws, trade agreements, commercial contracts and technologies increasingly prevent seed saving, limit local livestock breeding and outlaw exchanges of seeds and livestock, thereby reducing adaptive capacity.


    In the face of climate change, increasing adaptive capacity is non-negotiable. It is essential for mitigation but can only be achieved by having increased agricultural biodiversity, and its associated ecosystem functions, managed by local family and peasant farmers, pastoralists and artisanal fisherfolk and other local food providers.
    It requires the knowledge and skills of these small-scale food providers, their technologies and food sovereignty to achieve a resilient food system that will guarantee our future food in a warming world.


    The Parties to the CBD need to seize this historic moment and:

    •  Put culture back into agriculture

    •  Put biology back into biodiversity

    •  Put food sovereignty, food providers and their social organisations at the centre of agricultural biodiversity policy and practice

    Shorter version in ECO@SBSTTA13 #1

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    Overview of SBSTTA 13 paper on Agricultural Biodiversity


    The CBD Secretariat paper on Agricultural Biodiversity is at /sbstta/sbstta-13/official /sbstta-13-02-en.pdf

    In-Depth Review of the Implementation of the Programme of Work on Agricultural Biodiversity

    In the following paragraphs, I have selected some key points that give a flavour of the summary and recommendations.

    It summarizes the findings of the in-depth review of the implementation of the programme of work on agricultural biodiversity , including its four programme elements and the three international initiatives - Pollinators, Soil Biodiversity and Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition. There are 3 overarching recommendations, the second and third of which are divided into many sub-recommendations.

    1. welcome the preparations for the 2008 International Biodiversity Day and emphasize the importance of the Day for enhancing awareness of the value of agricultural biodiversity , its current rate of loss and the need to support and implement actions that will halt its loss for the benefit of food security, human nutrition and improved rural livelihoods.

    2. It is divided in sections concerning
    Status and trends of agricultural biodiversity with emphasis on FAO's 'State of the World' reports including Animal Genetic Resources and the planned State of the World's Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture and includes references to the implementation of the 4 activities in the programme of work:

    • (1) _assessment including analysis of the implications of the findings of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) on the work of the CBD;
    • (2) adaptive management and (3) capacity-building with emphasis on the application of the ecosystem approach to agriculture;
    • (4) mainstreaming noting that agriculture is a major driver of biodiversity loss and the need to reduce the footprint of agriculture on biodiversity ; and also notes that agriculture requires biological diversity and its associated ecosystem functions in order to deliver sustained food security and environmental services. Also it urges Parties, other Governments and relevant organizations to strengthen dialogue with farmers, including through the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP), Via Campesina and other farmers representative bodies, in the implementation and development of the programme of work.

      3. Agricultural biodiversity , climate change and biofuels with a link to the SBSTTA 12 recommendation XII/7 it

    welcomes the organization by FAO of a high-level meeting to be held in June 2008 on "World Food Security and the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy";

    requests the CBD Secretariat to work with FAO and others on gathering and disseminating information on the links between climate change, agriculture and biodiversity , including, in particular, the impacts of climate change on crops, livestock, food and nutrition, soil biodiversity and pollinators, and on ways and means to build resilience into food and agricultural livelihood systems as part of strategies for climate variability and change mitigation and adaptation, especially in communities of developing countries that are dependent on rain-fed agriculture for local food supplies;

    There is a reference to the Addis Ababa Principles and Guidelines on Sustainable Use.

    This is followed by a number of general points in support of the Interlaken GPA on Animal Genetic Resoures, the International Seed Treaty, CGRFA, and the Platform for research on agricultural biodiversity , which is headed by the following statement:

    Alarmed by world's food insecurity and convinced that agricultural biodiversity is a vital asset to achieve Millennium Development Goals 1 and 7, reiterates its recognition, in decision V/5, of the special nature of agricultural biodiversity , its distinctive features, and problems needing distinctive solutions and calls upon Parties, other Governments and international organizations to strengthen international cooperation in the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity , and the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of its use, for food security and sustainable agriculture;

    The bulk of the paper starts at page 7 up to the end at page 22. This provides more details on the findings of the in-depth review of the implementation of the programme of work on agricultural biodiversity . It concludes that the analysis suggests the need to strengthen: 

    (i)          the use of the ecosystem approach, both at the ground and policy level;

    (ii)         intersectoral cooperation, synergy and coordination at the national level, in particular between agriculture and environment sectors; and

    (iii)         the capacity of stakeholders for a better understanding of the importance and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity in different sectors.

    NB There is specific mention of the IAASTD in the recommendations but nothing of substance on GURTS or Terminator technology. This is only in the narrative text where it says " more than one quarter of Parties reported having identified such ways and means, including through laws and policies, establishment of biosafety committees, establishment of facilities for research on GURTs and implementation of environmental risk assessment.  A few Parties considered GURTs as GMOs, with high risks for human health and the environment, and which can likely harm indigenous and local communities. "

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