Global leaders launch initiative to bridge conservation and agriculture

A year ago, global leaders met in Rio de Janeiro to shape the future of sustainable development. Ensuring food security and sustainable agriculture was a cornerstone of those global discussions. As the world faces ongoing food crises, extreme weather and population growth, Bioversity International and global partners are responding by launching an initiative to develop solutions to food security and shape the Sustainable Development Goals.

The ‘Bridging Agriculture and Conservation Initiative’ which has been symbolically launched in Rio, will provide evidence-based solutions to feed a growing population, while ensuring long-term conservation of vital biodiversity, including agricultural biodiversity. Agricultural biodiversity – the diversity of varieties and species of plants on farms and in the wild – can help farmers manage risks, such as threats from pests and diseases, climate change and market fluctuations; improve income, livelihood and nutrition; and ensure the availability of important genes and traits for current and future food security and continued evolution and adaptation.

Bioversity International launched this initiative because the current approaches to food security, which focus primarily on increasing agricultural productivity of a few major crops, will not lead to better nutrition  and more resilient, nutrition, adaptable and ultimately more productive food and agricultural systems in the future. Likewise, the current approaches to conservation, which focus primarily on conserving biodiversity in a limited number of geographic locations, do not include agricultural landscapes and ecosystems.

For the first time, the agriculture and conservation sectors are coming together to find solutions to these issues together, says M. Ann Tutwiler, incoming Director General of Bioversity International. “The trade-offs between food security and conservation are often presumed to be too big and too expensive. The goal of the Bridging Agriculture and Conservation Initiative will bring together an international and interdisciplinary team of scientists to find the synergies and provide science-based solutions integrating biodiversity conservation and food security together. We need new solutions to these dual challenges,” she says.

But, finding new solutions does not guarantee they will be adopted. So, the initiative also brings together world-class global agriculture, development and conservation scientists to identify these new solutions. Global leaders from more than 16 organizations have committed to finding, communicating and advocating for new solutions that are built on science, evidence and experience.

The attached pdf declaration (360 KB) is the first step in this two-year initiative.

The initiative was established with the support of a founding donation from The Christensen Fund.