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Dear Friends and Colleagues

Mainstreaming Ecosystem Functions and Biodiversity into Agriculture

The Food and Agriculture Organization and the Convention on Biological Diversity have jointly  released a technical guidance document which has been produced to assist East African countries in finding synergies between two important realms of international agreements: chemicals management, and the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. The document is designed for use by countries in revising any of their strategies or policies related to these two realms, but in particular in revising or implementing their National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans (NBSAPs) aimed at attaining relevant Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

The document points out that agriculture must achieve the twin goals of food security and environment conservation while simultaneously increasing production to meet global food demands and reducing the negative externalities of current agricultural systems. A strategy to achieve sustainable agricultural productivity increases will have to do more than simply modify existing techniques. A successful strategy will be the outcome of novel approaches in designing agro-ecological systems where management is sensitive to the local resource base and the existing environmental and socioeconomic conditions. Fundamental to such a strategy is the better management of soils and landscapes as ecosystems.

The report cites efforts to strengthen regional and national institutional capacity for the synergistic implementation of target multilateral environmental agreements related to chemicals and biodiversity, for example, by providing alternative options to unsustainable agricultural practices, including the overuse of inputs such as agrochemicals. The guidance document includes technical papers on managing ecosystem functions and biodiversity to reduce the use of agrochemicals, focusing on natural pest control; pest control, weed management, enhancing soil fertility, water conservation; pollination; the role of farmers’ knowledge and innovation in managing ecosystems; and the integration of crops, trees and livestock in an agroforestry system; all of which are good agroecological practices.The document also discusses policy measures, from Kenya and other regions of the world, that offer examples of entry points for harnessing synergies between sound chemical management and biodiversity conservation.

We reproduce below the Introduction. The full document is available at: http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5603e.pdf

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MAINSTREAMING ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND BIODIVERSITY INTO AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTION AND MANAGEMENT IN EAST AFRICA

- Practical Issues for Consideration in National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans to Minimize the Use of Agrochemicals

Technical guidance document

Introduction

Agriculture is central to human well-being and sustainable development. However, essentially every statement on the future of agriculture acknowledges that a transformation is needed in the way the sector is conducted. Agriculture has to achieve the dual and interrelated goals of food and environmental security while simultaneously increasing production to meet global food demands (Foley et al., 2011; Godfray et al., 2010; IAASTD, 2009; The Royal Society, 2009).

Concerns over the sustainability of agriculture and the growing environmental footprint of farming systems have grown exponentially over the past 25 years. To many observers, agriculture looms as the major global threat to nature conservation and biodiversity; as noted in Global Biodiversity Outlook 4 (CBD, 2014), the drivers associated with food systems and agriculture account for around 70 percent and 50 percent of the projected losses by 2050 of terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity, respectively. More recently, consensus has emerged that the fates of biodiversity and agriculture are intertwined.

Biodiversity and ecosystem services are at the heart of many solutions for sustainable increases in agricultural productivity that not only deliver better outcomes for food and nutrition security but also reduce externalities of production. The environment-agriculture discussion is shifting from a polarized debate of trade-offs to a discussion of mutually supporting agendas. It is encouraging that the agriculture sector itself has identified and promoted such approaches.

Conventional high-input agriculture, where yields have been increased largely by simplifyinglandscapes, adding more external inputs and increasing mechanization, is already struggling as a model for sustainability. But in many parts of the developing world, conventional high-input agriculture has not taken hold – and has little chance of doing so – owing to external resource input limitations. In many such regions, resource-poor farmers contend with issues of marginal high-risk environments and experience poor yields just where food security is most vulnerable.

The agricultural research establishment has recently begun to focus increasingly on such areas and to recognize that highly site-specific resource management systems are needed to sustain productivity gains under these conditions (Altieri, 2002).

A strategy to achieve sustainable agricultural productivity increases will have to do more than simply modify existing techniques. A successful strategy will be the outcome of novel approaches in designing agro-ecological systems where management is sensitive to the local resource base and the existing environmental and socioeconomic conditions. Fundamental to such a strategy is the better management of soils and landscapes as ecosystems. Through ecologically sensitive management, the conservation or restoration of soils and landscapes will facilitate their ability to deliver ecosystem services that underpin sustainable productivity gains and improve on-farm profitability. Depending on local conditions and farming systems, external inputs, including agrochemicals, may in some cases still be required (at least in the short term), but where needed they are used sustainably and to enhance biological processes rather than to compensate for their loss.

Approaches that can address both the negative externalities of conventional production systems and the challenges of resource-poor farmers have a central common thread: They recognize that agriculture and food systems are biological and social systems. They can be designed to build on and harness the forces of biodiversity and ecosystem services that underpin sustainable agricultural production – soil fertility, natural pest control, pollination, water retention – so that these are optimized and encouraged. Farming systems can be regenerative, building on and adding to natural capital, rather than being increasingly dependent on external inputs that are becoming more scarce, that the system cannot absorb and that more often than not contribute to negative externalities.

Farming has traditionally not been a solitary operation; it has been carried out over millennia by communities of people. An ecosystem perspective recognizes that regenerative agriculture occurs on the level of the whole farming system, at the watershed and/or landscape or community level, with the traditional knowledge and experience of farmers and empowerment of communities as its base. As such, it also contributes to building and strengthening the social capital underlying agriculture.

Mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystem services into agricultural production – and providing alternative options to unsustainable agricultural practices such as the overuse of external inputs (e.g. agrochemicals) – is a part of FAO ’s work to increase and improve provision of goods and services from agriculture, forestry and fisheries in a sustainable manner. FAO is collaborating with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), through a European Union (EU) funded project in countries of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (AC P), to strengthen regional and national institutional capacity for the synergistic implementation of target multilateral environmental agreement (MEA) clusters (on chemicals/wastes and biodiversity).

In particular, with regard to biodiversity, FAO is working in East Africa and the Pacific with the following aims:

* to enhance institutional capacity by working with the CBD Secretariat to develop tools and guidance on integrating agriculture into National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans (NBSAPs) to address selected Aichi Biodiversity Targets that are integral to agriculture (e.g. Targets 7, 13 and 14) (Box 1), for dissemination at national levels, and to build synergies with measures to eliminate the use of toxic chemicals in agricultural production systems;                

* to bring together National Biodiversity Focal Points, focal points for the biodiversity-related conventions, other agriculture-relevant focal points, relevant units within the national agriculture ministries and relevant non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to mainstream agriculture into NBSAPs to address Aichi Biodiversity Targets that are integral to agriculture (e.g. Targets 7, 13 and 14);

* to build capacity of national partners to identify linkages, enabling policies and instruments to promote synergies among agriculture/biodiversity-related instruments (e.g. the Global Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture [ITPGRFA], CBD, chemicals instruments).

Although the project focuses on Aichi Biodiversity Targets 7, 13 and 14, following consultations with partners from participating countries in both Africa and the Pacific, it became evident that

Target 9 would also be relevant as it relates to weeds, crop pests and livestock diseases. Target 8, which deals with pollution, is also relevant, as it includes pollution from excess nutrients.

Box 1. Relevant Aichi Biodiversity Targets

Each of the 20 Aichi Biodiversity Targets, in some way and to some extent, can be relevant to the agriculture sector. However, the following are particularly relevant:

* Target 7. By 2020 areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably, ensuring conservation of biodiversity.

* Target 8. By 2020, pollution, including from excess nutrients, has been brought to levels that are not detrimental to ecosystem function and biodiversity.

* Target 9. By 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and prioritized, priority species are controlled or eradicated, and measures are in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction and establishment.

* Target 13. By 2020, the genetic diversity of cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and of wild relatives, including other socioeconomically as well as culturally valuable species, is maintained, and strategies have been developed and implemented for minimizing genetic erosion and safeguarding their genetic diversity.

* Target 14. By 2020, ecosystems that provide essential services, including services related to water, and contribute to health, livelihoods and well-being, are restored and safeguarded, taking into account the needs of women, indigenous and local communities, and the poor and vulnerable.

Defining ecosystems and ecosystem services

The CBD (2016a) defines an ecosystem as “a dynamic complex of plant, animal and microorganism communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit”. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA, 2005a) highlighted that humankind benefits in diverse ways from ecosystems. Collectively, these benefits are known as ecosystem services. Daily (1997) provided an early and still useful way of describing ecosystem services: “the conditions and processes through which natural ecosystems, and the species that make them up, sustain and fulfil human life”.

Different typologies of ecosystem services have been proposed. The most common includes the following:

* Regulating services are defined as the benefits obtained from the regulation of ecosystem processes such as climate regulation, natural hazard regulation, water purification and waste management, pollination and pest control.

* Supporting services are those that support the delivery of other services, such as soil formation and supplying habitat for species, which enable ecosystems to continue to supply provisioning and regulating services.

* Provisioning services refer to the goods and physical products obtained from ecosystems such as food, freshwater, wood, fibre, genetic resources and medicines.

* Cultural services include non-material benefits that people obtain from ecosystems such as spiritual enrichment, intellectual development, recreation and aesthetic values.

This guidance document primarily considers the regulatory services and how they may be promoted and enhanced to support more sustainable production (provisioning services) and reduce externalities detrimental to biodiversity by reducing reliance on chemical inputs. But other services, such as the cultural values of agriculture and related indigenous knowledge systems, are important in supporting efforts towards an improved ecological foundation of agriculture.

About this guidance document

This guidance document has been produced to assist east african countries in finding synergies between two important realms of international agreements: chemicals management and conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. It is designed for use by countries in revising any of their strategies or policies related to these two realms, but in particular in revising or implementing their NBSAPs, to help countries attain a number of relevant aichi Biodiversity Targets. It indicates where important synergies can be harvested, but it is not meant to be prescriptive.

This version is a prototype for use in Kenya as the country revises its NBSAP in 2016, but will also be of relevance to other east african countries.

After this introduction, Part II addresses the use and management of ecosystem services and biodiversity with a view to minimize the use of agrochemicals in agricultural production in the East Africa region. Individual chapters explore the role of ecosystem services and biodiversity in relation to pest control, weed management, enhancing soil fertility, water conservation and pollination. Part II also explores the role of farmers’ knowledge and innovation in managing ecosystem services, and the integration of crops, trees and livestock in agroforestry systems for a coherent approach to conservation and management.

Part III addresses policies to promote ecosystem services in agriculture. it begins with an overview of the international context. country-level policies and legislation in Kenya are then presented. The final chapter presents a review of how ecosystem services have been addressed in NBSAPs and makes recommendations for how the considerations presented in this document can be incorporated in national policy. Lastly, the annex addresses valuation of ecosystem services, presenting a protocol that can be used to provide evidence-based arguments for investing in ecosystem services, to policy and decision-makers.

Suggestions and recommendations for revision are welcome and should be communicated to david.colozza@fao.org.

African context: challenges of sustainable agriculture and food security

The imperative to increase food production in the places in the world where populations are increasing most dramatically, and where food security remains highly vulnerable, has alarmed policymakers and food system experts. many parts of africa are central to these concerns.

Agriculture drives many national economies in Africa. However, in this region agriculture – and specifically food production – has been noted to perform poorly. The amount of food grown in Africa per person rose slowly in the 1960s, then fell from the mid-1970s and has only just recovered to the 1960 level in recent years (Pretty, Toulmin and Williams, 2011). For comparison, over the same period, per capita food production in Asia and Latin America increased by 102 and 63 percent, respectively. To be fair, this generalization does not apply to the whole region; some parts of Africa have actually shown aspects of growth in net agricultural production, with the greatest increases occurring in North and West Africa (Pretty, Toulmin and Williams, 2011). However, any efforts made towards agricultural growth are obscured by spiralling population growth. Similarly, issues such as disinvestment in agricultural research by African governments, conflicts and climate change have impacted negatively on agricultural growth and would remain the dent in the agriculture sector if not adequately addressed.

The quest for more sustainable cropping and farming systems that can meet food needs while conserving biodiversity can be framed in the context of the emerging paradigm of ecological intensification. agriculture and biodiversity inevitably interact, and it is increasingly recognized  that one can serve the other, i.e. it is possible to exploit synergies between them through ecological intensification. Ecological intensification relies on improved solutions stemming from the use of (mainly) local resources such as agrobiodiversity at the gene, species and habitat/ecosystem levels and improved knowledge of biological interactions occurring in an agro-ecosystem.

International context: linkages to the Convention on Biological Diversity

On 29 December 1993, the CBD entered into force. a key instrument for sustainable development, the convention has three main objectives: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity and the fair and equitable sharing of the bene ts arising from the use of genetic resources. The CBD addresses a number of overarching and thematic and cross-cutting areas touching on biodiversity that are important for food and agriculture. However, for the purpose of this guidance document, two are of particular relevance: the CBD Programme of Work on Agricultural Biodiversity, and the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

Programme of Work on Agricultural Biodiversity

The CBD established the Programme of Work on Agricultural Biodiversity in 1995 (Conference of Parties [COP] Decision III/11), and the fifth meeting of the COP in 2000 adopted Decision V/5 containing the Plan of Action of the Programme of Work on Agricultural Biodiversity and its four elements (assessment, adaptive management, capacity building and mainstreaming). The Programme of Work on Agricultural Biodiversity defines the scope of agricultural biodiversity: “Agricultural biodiversity is a broad term that includes all components of biological diversity of relevance to food and agriculture, and all components of biological diversity that constitute the agro-ecosystem: the variety and variability of animals, plants and microorganisms, at the genetic, species and ecosystem levels, which are necessary to sustain key functions of the agro- ecosystem, its structure and processes...” (CBD COP Decision V/5). In particular, it recognizes ”the special nature of agricultural biodiversity, its distinctive features, and problems needing distinctive solutions” and describes the dimensions of agricultural biodiversity as:
* genetic resources for food and agriculture;

* components of agricultural biodiversity that provide ecological services;

* abiotic factors, which have a determining effect on these aspects of agricultural biodiversity; » socioeconomic and cultural dimensions, since agricultural biodiversity is largely shaped by human activities and management practices.

The Programme of Work on Agricultural Biodiversity also includes three international initiatives, on pollinators, soil biodiversity and food and nutrition.

Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, including the Aichi Biodiversity Targets

Global Biodiversity Outlook 3 (CBD, 2010) reported that the target agreed by the world’s governments in 2002 - “to achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on earth” - had not been met. Based on this and other considerations, in 2010 the Parties to CBD adopted the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets. This plan has been recognized as a common platform for action among the biodiversity- related multilateral agreements and the United Nations General Assembly.

The mission of the strategic Plan (CBD COP Decision X/2) is to:
“take effective and urgent action to halt the loss of biodiversity in order to ensure that by 2020 ecosystems are resilient and continue to provide essential services, thereby securing the planet’s variety of life, and contributing to human well-being, and poverty eradication. To ensure this, pressures on biodiversity are reduced, ecosystems are restored, biological resources are sustainably used and bene ts arising out of utilization of genetic resources are shared in a fair and equitable manner; adequate nancial resources are provided, capacities are enhanced, biodiversity issues and values mainstreamed, appropriate policies are effectively implemented, and decision-making is based on sound science and the precautionary approach.”

Global Biodiversity Outlook 4 (CBD, 2014) included a midterm review of progress towards the achievement of the strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, based on quantified assessments of progress towards the Aichi Biodiversity Targets. It concluded that under a business-as- usual scenario, the projected losses of terrestrial and freshwater biodiversity by 2050 will be attributable to escalating pressures from food systems (including patterns of and trends in consumption) and agriculture. Achieving sustainability in food systems and agriculture will be a dominant pathway for halting the loss of biodiversity.

The Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2010 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets explicitly consider ecosystem services. The rationale is that biological diversity underpins ecosystem functioning and the provision of ecosystem services, contributing to human well-being by supporting, for example, food security, human health, local livelihoods, economic development and poverty reduction. as a recognized overarching framework on biodiversity for all stakeholders, the Strategic Plan is not intended to be limited to environmental goals and institutions, but also to other sectors, including agriculture. indeed, as shown in Box 1, most of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets are relevant to agriculture, and the agriculture sector has a key role in achieving the targets. however, few agricultural stakeholders are directly involved in the implementation of the CBD, although many might be undertaking some measures consistent in practice with the CBD. NBSAPs offer a major opportunity for mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystem services into the agriculture sector.

National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans

NBSAPs are the principal instrument for implementing the CBD at the national level, as stated in Article 6(b) and supported by Article 10(a), which calls for integrating consideration of the conservation and sustainable use of biological resources into national decision-making. Under the convention, countries have an obligation to develop an NBSAP and to ensure that this strategy is mainstreamed into the planning and activities of all sectors whose activities can have an impact (positive and negative) on biodiversity. More specifically, Article 6 calls for countries to:
* develop national strategies, plans or programmes for the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity or adapt for this purpose existing strategies, plans or programmes which shall reflect, inter alia, the measures set out in the convention relevant to the contracting Party concerned;

* integrate, as far as possible and as appropriate, the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity into relevant sectoral or cross-sectoral plans, programmes and policies.

National Biodiversity strategies are meant to reflect how a country intends to fulfil the objectives of the Convention in light of specific national circumstances, and the related Action Plans will constitute the sequence of steps to be taken to meet these goals. Currently, however, major challenges remain, and there is a need to enhance national capacity for implementation.

The main COP decisions that provide direct guidance for NBSAPs are Decisions IX/8 and X/2. Parties are encouraged to review these decisions for consolidated guidance on the NBSAP process, substance, components, support systems and monitoring and review systems. More specifically, in decision X/2, COP 10 called on countries to:
* develop national and regional targets, using the sSrategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets as a flexible framework;

* review, revise and update NBSAPs in line with the Strategic Plan;

* integrate national targets into revised and updated NBSAPs, adopted as a policy instrument;

* use revised and updated NBSAPs as effective instruments for integrating biodiversity targets into national development and poverty reduction policies and strategies, national accounting, as appropriate, economic sectors and spatial planning processes, by government and the private sector at all levels;

* monitor and review NBSAP implementation in accordance with the Strategic Plan and national targets, making use of the set of indicators developed for the Strategic Plan as a flexible framework;

* support the updating of NBSAP as effective instruments to promote the implementation of the Strategic Plan and mainstreaming of biodiversity at the national level, taking into account synergies among the biodiversity-related conventions in a manner consistent with their respective mandates.

To this effect, the CBS provides comprehensive information and guidance on NBSAPs (CBD, 2016b). Furthermore, other COP decisions provide direction on specific issues. For example, on agricultural biodiversity, Decision X/34, Paragraph 7 “invites Parties to incorporate, as appropriate, relevant elements of the programme of work on agricultural biodiversity into their national Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans as well as into their relevant sectoral and inter-sectoral policies and plans”.

Parties (governments) are in various stages of revising their NBSAPs, and would prefer to devote scarce resources to implementation rather than to continual revision. This guidance document is therefore designed to inform appropriate revision of an NBSAP and/or to support implementation of an existing NBSAP in relevant policy areas, depending on the status of NBSAP revision in the country.

 


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