Skip to main content

The challenge: Food systems are failing

We need to transform our food systems – what we eat and what we grow.

In today’s complex and interconnected world, what we eat and how we produce it are inextricably bound to the health of people and the planet. A focus on increasing food production without due regard for the environment is causing severe land and water degradation. A focus on addressing hunger without regard for nutritious diets is contributing to an epidemic of heart disease and diabetes. A focus on increasing yields in a few staple foods is contributing to loss of food diversity.

The solution: Increase agrobiodiversity in diets, markets and production systems

A sustainable food system cannot exist without agrobiodiversity.

Agrobiodiversity is the foundation of sustainable food systems. It boosts total productivity and quality of nutrition in the diet. It increases resilience, soil health and water quality while reducing the need for water, synthetic fertilizers and other costly inputs. It reduces greenhouse gas emissions compared to less diverse farms.

Few decision-makers – governments, investors and companies – have welldeveloped policies to mainstream agrobiodiversity in food systems. In a review of 119 National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans, only 30% include detailed actions for agrobiodiversity conservation and use.

Without making better use of agrobiodiversity, we will struggle to meet internationally agreed targets such as the Sustainable Development Goals and the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Targets.

 

What is the Agrobiodiversity Index?

The Agrobiodiversity Index is the tool we need to measure agrobiodiversity and identify concrete actions to achieve diverse and sustainable food systems. It will contribute to sustainability through three pillars: diets and markets, production systems and genetic resources.

The Agrobiodiversity Index will help decision-makers – governments, investors and companies – ensure that food systems are more diverse and sustainable.

Download the flier

Why do we need the Agrobiodiversity Index?

There is currently no agreed, standard way of measuring agrobiodiversity in diets, food production or genetic resources, nor ways of asking how other activities affect agrobiodiversity.

Decision-makers lack a set of concrete actions that they can implement to make food systems more sustainable through increased agrobiodiversity. These gaps also extend to measuring progress on how agrobiodiversity is delivering on the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s Targets.

What does the Agrobiodiversity Index measure?

The Agrobiodiversity Index measures:

  • Status – Provides the current state of agrobiodiversity using 7 indicators that measure diversity of crops, crop wild relatives, fish, livestock and pollinators at different levels (varietal and genetic, species, farm, landscape, ecosystem).
  • Commitments – Using 21 indicators, assesses the level of commitment towards an agrobiodiversity outcome (e.g. maintaining livestock varietal diversity) in publicly available strategies, policies, declarations, guidelines for the country, company or project under review.
  • Actions – Using 5 indicators, monitors policies, investments and practices at the institutional, production or market level that support biodiversity in food and agriculture.

These three levels of measurement will provide each country, company or project, scores for the use and conservation of agrobiodiversity that will be displayed as maps and graphs on an interactive portal, along with a short summary of how performance compares with other countries, companies or projects.

Who is it for?

The Agrobiodiversity Index is critical for decision-makers to measure and manage actions towards developing sustainable food systems:  

  • Governments and development partners (including development banks) to design and monitor policies; measure progress against international targets; establish investment criteria, and design – and monitor – green bonds.
  • Investors to rate the policies and performance of food and agriculture companies, and make appropriate decisions.
  • Companies to reduce risks in the supply chain, enhance environmental stewardship and improve the quality of the goods they produce, making them more attractive to consumers and investors.
  • Global conventions and treaties to monitor how well countries are doing with their commitments.

Mainstreaming Agrobiodiversity in Sustainable Food Systems

The scientific basis for agrobiodiversity’s role in delivering multiple benefits is set out in Bioversity International's open-acces book Mainstreaming Agrobiodiversity in Sustainable Food Systems: Scientific Foundations for an Agrobiodiversity Index.

 

 

 

Download

 

 

The Agrobiodiversity Index and the private sector

By mainstreaming agrobiodiversity in supply chains, food and agriculture businesses can reduce risks and seize opportunities. At the same time, investors in the agri-food sector can stabilize their portfolios by directing capital toward supply chains and food brands that promote and benefit from agrobiodiversity.

Reducing risks and seizing opportunities: integrating biodiversity into food and agriculture investments explains how using the Agrobiodiversity Index, companies and governments can reduce operational and reputational risks and seize opportunities, by estimating and monitoring the agrobiodiversity impact of supply chain investments.

Download

 

 

Dishes prepared on site for a food fair held in the Barotse floodplain, Zambia. The food was judged in a competition for the most nutritious dish.
Credit: Bioversity International/E.Hermanowicz

Agrobiodiversity

Why it matters

For more information, contact:

Allison Smith, Initiative Manager, Effective Genetic Resources Conservation and Use

Bioversity International and partners at COP14

Who, what, when and where

The Agrobiodiversity Index is funded by:


Related news:

How will we finance the New Deal for Nature?

The CBD estimates up to US$440 billion is needed annually to meet commitments in the post-2020 UN Biodiversity Framework yet the current annual spend...

Read more

Different tubers on display at a diversity fair, Peru. Credit: Bioversity International/A.Drucker

How is agrobiodiversity faring in Peru?

Did you know that Peru is one of the main centres of crop diversity in the world? A recent study conducted by Bioversity International sets the stage...

Read more

To conserve biodiversity, conserve agricultural biodiversity

In her latest blog, Ann Tutwiler, Director General of Bioversity International, explains why she is proud to be an International Ambassador for the...

Read more