Ten countries from the Pacific - including Samoa - are in Fiji for a consultation on the region’s biodiversity for food and agriculture.
The consultation, on the State of Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture in the Pacific region, is to assess the current state of knowledge and the needs and priorities for the sustainable use and conservation of its biodiversity.
The consultation is part of a global assessment process under the aegis of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (F.A.O).
“The impacts of climate change on biodiversity have been quite detrimental, as we have seen with coral bleaching, extreme weather events, changes in rainfall, and sea-level rise,” said William Wigmore, Vice Chair of the 16th Session of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture for the Pacific region.
“We need to develop practical ways to mitigate the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and to better design adaptation programmes. Reporting on the state of biodiversity for food and agriculture is critically important to helping countries in the Pacific address many of the problems we face today and to better adapt.”
“Previous assessments on the state of plant, animal, forest and aquatic genetic resources have given us quite a clear picture of what we know, and what we do not know, about the biodiversity that is of direct use to human beings, be it as food, fuel or fibre,” said Irene Hoffmann, Secretary of the Commission.
In 2017, F.A.O will launch the first edition of The State of World’s Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture. The report will look at the contribution biodiversity makes to food security, livelihoods and environmental health.
“This report is different from our previous assessments,” said Hoffmann, “in that it will look at the biodiversity that is present in agricultural productions systems, micro-organisms, invertebrates, amphibians, reptiles, birds, plants and mammals, that often contribute to the provision of important ecosystem services supporting food and agricultural production.
“By conserving and using sustainably this biodiversity, the resilience of production systems can be enhanced to better adapt to climate change.”
Pacific region: A treasure trove of untapped biodiversity that can help feed the world
The Pacific region is one of the world’s centres of biological diversity. It is home to a rich variety of species, embracing a number of biodiversity hotspots, and possessing the most extensive coral reef system and highest marine diversity in the world.
The region also has a huge amount of wild foods and underused edible plants and animal species, a wide diversity of landscapes and production systems and rich traditional knowledge about the usage and maintenance of biodiversity for food and agriculture.
“This process is a high priority to the Commission and F.A.O,’’ said Viliami Fakava, Plant Production and Protection Officer at the F.A.O Sub-regional Office for the Pacific Islands.
“This report will be instrumental in providing baseline information and knowledge necessary for informed decision-making, particularly in the agriculture and food sector, on the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity for food and agriculture.
It will also help to identify actions and policies that enhance the contribution of biodiversity for food and agriculture to improve food security and will serve as a major milestone in the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity.’’
Participants in the three-day consultation are discussing priorities for biodiversity for food and agriculture, related to monitoring and assessment, sustainable use and conservation, policies, institutions and capacity, and regional and international cooperation.