Biodiversity critical for food systems – UN Food Systems Pre-Summit
As the world faces unprecedented threats, including as a result of the climate change-poverty-conflict nexus, a systems approach which recognizes the complex interplay between human activity and nature is mandatory as we seek to re-balance the planet.
Loss of biosphere integrity (biodiversity loss and extinctions) is one of the four planetary boundaries breached by human activity. Food systems currently negatively effect all four of the breached planetary boundaries. At the Ministerial Roundtable on the UN Food Systems Summit and Rio Conventions on Biodiversity, Climate Chagne, and Desertification (28 July 2021), Dr Martin Frick Deputy to the Special Envoy for the UN Food Systems Summit noted that “The way we produce our food is the biggest killer of biodiversity…”.
According to the UN Food Systems Summit, too many of the world’s food systems are fragile, unexamined and vulnerable to collapse: When food systems fail, the resulting disorder threatens education, health and economy, as well as human rights, peace and security. As in so many cases, those who are already poor or marginalized are the most vulnerable. However, scientists agree that transforming food systems is among the most powerful ways to change course.
The UN Environment Programme urges that restoring biodiversity means strengthening the resilience of food systems, enabling farmers to diversify production and cope with pests, diseases and climate change. It would also reduce the risk of zoonotic virus spillover. Restoring biodiversity, such as in the form of regenerating forests, also allows communities to be freed from food insecurity and aid dependence, and to enjoy a micro climate which attracts rains.
The UN Food Systems Pre-Summit (26-28 July 2021) contains an important focus on biodiversity as a key to mitigating the climate change impacts of – and stabilizing – human food systems. The focus must be not only on net zero but on nature positive where we urgently and actively contribute to restoring nature’s depleted assets. In the words of WWF: “The world must come together to reverse nature loss and safeguard the future of humanity”.
There must also be a focus on equity. In an impassioned address, Jeffrey D. Sachs, advisor to three United Nations Secretaries-General, talked of the grotesque inequality the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed, and noted that the world’s 2,775 billionaires have a net worth of US $13.1 trillion: A billion dollars is enough for them to live on, so they have an excess of $11 trillion. We should be taxing that and having a civilized world, he said. The UN Core budget this year is $3 billion. Listen to Jeffrey’s speech here (2:07:54)
Some interesting links below:
Human rights, sustainable development and biodiversity
- Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment >
- The dependence of human rights on biodiversity, Report of the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, 2017
- The Lancet Planetary Health Journal
- Biodiversity and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Technical Note
- Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), strengthening the science-policy interface for biodiversity and ecosystem services for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, long-term human well-being and sustainable development
- UNDP BIOFIN, MOOC course on biodiversity finance; webinar on biodiversity and sustainable development 2019
- A team of scientists has warned that the SDGs are failing to protect biodiversity
Food systems, business and biodiversity
- UN Food Systems Summit September 2021 and Pre-Summit including pre-summit full programme
- Food Systems Summit Solution Clusters, including on Innovation for Nature-Positive Production; Agrobiodiversity; Empowering Communities and Indigenous Peoples: Recognising Rights and Traditional Knowledge; Gender Transformative Approaches for Inclusive and Sustainable Food Systems; Conflict & Hunger / HDP nexus; Enhance local production for local consumption.
- One Planet Business for Biodiversity (OP2B) business coalition on biodiversity with a specific focus on agriculture
- The Challenge of Feeding the World Sustainably, Summary of the US-UK Scientific Forum on Sustainable Agriculture (2021)
- World Economic Forum New Nature Economy Report II: The Future of Nature and Business, July 2021
- I recently interviewed Nigel Sizer, Chief Global Alliances Officer of the Rainforest Alliance at the Reuters Responsible Business Conference 2021 about the need to transform the relationship between business and biodiversity.
- World Vision, Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR)
- UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030
- World Economic Forum Report Investing in Forests, The Business Case, June 2021
- Natural Climate Solutions Alliance, Nature positive, cost-effective climate action
- World Vision, Reforestation: unleashing the world’s underground forests
- Monks Wood Wilderness: 60 years ago, scientists let a farm field rewild
- In order to address both the biodiversity crisis and the climate crisis, half of the planet must be kept in a natural state. A scientifically credible and necessary interim goal is to achieve a minimum of 30% protection by 2030 (30×30). The High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People is an intergovernmental group of 60 countries with the central goal of the 30×30 target
- How other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) could help to achieve the 30×30 target
- WWF: Nature positive by 2030
Net Zero regeneration reliance
- More than 120 countries have pledged to reach net zero by 2050, and one-fifth of the world’s 2,000 largest publicly listed corporations have net zero goals that are dependent upon land-based carbon sinks. Oxfam’s report “Tightening the Net” (August 2021) warns over-relying on planting trees and as-yet-unproven technology instead of genuinely shifting away from fossil fuel-dependent economies is a dangerous folly.
- The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Climate Change and Land (January 2020) says large-scale afforestation could cause increases in food prices of 80% by 2050, leading to food insecurity.
- Stockholm Resilience Centre 2015, As Science publishes the updated research, four of nine planetary boundaries have been crossed (right)
Updated 4 August 2021