In 2015, at the United Nations in New York, countries agreed on the Sustainable Development Goals; in Paris at the Climate Summit, they reached an agreement on Climate Change; and at the Convention on Biological Diversity, countries focused on mainstreaming agricultural biodiversity into health, nutrition and production systems.
Agricultural biodiversity has an increasingly important role to play in creating long-term food system sustainability, with contributions to make in terms of improving nutrition, enhancing resilience of agricultural production system and increasing adaptation to climate change,.
In the report you will find examples that show the impact of Bioversity International’s work on people's lives on the ground in Africa, Asia and Latin America. Our work is organized around three initiatives: ‘Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems’; ‘Productive and Resilient Farms, Forests and Landscapes’; and ‘Effective Genetic Resources Conservation and Use’. Through these initiatives, we investigate how to safeguard agricultural and tree biodiversity for future generations and how to use it to diversify diets, production systems, seeds and planting materials.
“Agricultural biodiversity has an increasingly important role to play in creating long-term food system sustainability.”
Increasing the sustainable use of agricultural and tree biodiversity in production and consumption systems plays an important part in solving today’s challenges – reduce global malnutrition, adapt to climate change, increase productivity and reduce risk, and address shrinking food diversity.
Bioversity International’s strategic objectives are to diversify diets, production systems, seeds and planting material, and safeguard biodiversity.
To achieve these objectives, Bioversity International integrates its research portfolio into three initiatives.
Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems
Productive and resilient farms and forests
Effective Genetic Resources Conservation and Use
In 2015, Bioversity International produced 169 scientific publications on topics that include:
- banana genetic resources conservation and management systems
- biodiversity and ecosystem services
- diet diversity and nutrition
- forest genetic resources and restoration
- fruit tree and tree crops diversity
- genetic resources policies and institutions
- neglected and underutilized species
- on farm and in situ conservation.
Bioversity International works with partners around the world to identify and deliver innovative solutions to ensure agricultural biodiversity nourishes people and sustains the planet.
Our partners are national and international research systems and advanced research institutes, non-governmental organizations, foundations, private sector organizations, government ministries, UN agencies and international bodies.
Bioversity International's work would not be possible without the support of the CGIAR Fund members and a wide range of funding partners who share our vision and mission.
The continuous and fruitful collaboration with our partners is critical for Bioversity International to deliver scientific evidence, management practices and policy options to use and safeguard agricultural and tree biodiversity to attain sustainable global food and nutrition security.
Mobilizing funding is becoming more challenging as many CGIAR donors cut their aid budgets and divert resources to crisis management and achieving short-term results. To address these significant funding cuts, Bioversity International has used a combination of cost-cutting measures, strategic use of reserves, and has developed additional fundraising plans.
Funding to Bioversity International from bilateral sources is on the increase and development of several ‘big idea’ evidence-based products, which are attractive and ripe for support by development budgets, will help the Institute to recover and grow again.
Revenue in 2015 amounted to US$ 36.3 million (2014: $42.4 million) against expenditures of $36.9 million (2014: $42.2 million), resulting in an operating deficit of $0.6 million for 2015. Bioversity International’s reserves were at $10.7 million (115 days) at 31 December 2015, compared with $11.1 million (107 days) at 31 December 2014, both of which are above the target of 90 days set by the Board.
Despite the challenges posed by several unexpected cuts and a difficult bilateral resource mobilization environment, Bioversity International has implemented effective mitigating measures and continues to achieve great results in delivering scientific evidence, management practices and policy options to use and safeguard agricultural biodiversity to attain sustainable global food and nutrition security.
For more information, download our 2015 Financial Statements
Board Chair: Cristián Samper
Vice Chair: Carl Hausmann
Maria Helena Semedo
M. Ann Tutwiler
Douglas van den Aardweg
Bioversity International created a UK registered charity (no. 1131854) in October 2008 to increase awareness and support for its research agenda and activities. Bioversity International UK is governed by an independent Board of Trustees.
Board Chair: Trish Malloch-Brown
Jacqueline de Chollet
M. Ann Tutwiler
Bioversity International USA, Inc aims to engage and inspire a wide range of partners and donors to ensure that agricultural biodiversity nourishes people and sustains the planet. It is led by a committed and highly regarded Board of Trustees:
M. Ann Tutwiler
People are realizing that a transformational change is required to our agricultural and food systems and for the first time, thought leaders in their respective fields – agriculture, environment, health – are understanding that to achieve positive outcomes, we need to work together in more integrated ways. We have a global crisis with around 2 billion people missing vital minerals and vitamins in their diets. These people are not just in developing countries.
Even when people have enough to eat, they are increasingly eating simplified diets that are rich in energy and low in nutrition. Many foods that are nutritionally valuable have fallen by the wayside. Even though over 7000 plants have been traditionally used as sources of food, just three staple crops account for more than 50% of the calories people get from plants in their diets. And with this simplification comes an increase in diet-related diseases (NCDs) like diabetes and heart disease as well as loss of the biodiversity that our food production systems depend on.
Published in 2015 and resulting from a collaboration between the Convention on Biological Diversity and the World Health Organization and many other partners, Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health will help inform the recent shift towards agriculture that is more sensitive to nutrition. It is a great step forward, providing a valuable source to inform the emerging post-2015 sustainable development agenda.
Bioversity International was among the partners who collaborated towards this important effort.
“For the chapter on nutrition, biodiversity and health, we have pulled together a strong evidence-base for all elements of biodiversity. We are not just looking at the nutrients in individual crops or in the diversity within crops, but also nutrients in other kinds of biodiversity – aquatic, insect, animal and even down to things like mushrooms,” comments Danny Hunter, Senior Scientist, Bioversity International, lead coordinating author of the book and co-lead author of two chapters: ‘Nutrition, biodiversity and human health’ and 'Agricultural biodiversity and food security'.
“If you look at the apricot as an example, you will find that one apricot variety has different nutritional properties than another. And the range is huge. For example, one variety of apricot can provide less than 1% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin A, while another can provide more than 200%. That is significant when we are looking at the nutritional adequacy of individuals and populations by examining the combinations of foods that they can access throughout the year – from the farm, the home garden, the market or the wild,” continues Hunter.
And it is not just about nutrition. It stands to reason that increasing the diversity within a landscape for improved nutrition, also increases the capacity of that landscape to adapt to climate change, and be more resilient and productive. Human health also benefits from additional ecosystems that are underpinned by this increased biodiversity – for example, from cleaner air and water.
The good news is that interest in diverse traditional species and foods is increasing and that interest is turning into action. Bioversity International has been working closely with Brazil, Turkey, Kenya and Sri Lanka who are leading the ‘Mainstreaming biodiversity for nutrition and health'* Initiative. Brazil, which is a biodiversity hotspot, is making great strides to embed biodiversity for nutrition and health into public policies and agendas at the national level such as the national school feeding programme which provides around 50 million school meals a day. Information on the nutritional value of 70 native fruit tree species has been collected to help inform public policies on improved nutrition, family farming, food security and the sustainable use of biodiversity. The other countries in this initiative are also highlighting how global interest in this issue can be transformed into local action.
“We are starting to see some positive impacts from these efforts, but it is still too early to gather solid evidence to measure the extent of that impact,” concludes Hunter.
Download the book: Connecting Global Priorities: Biodiversity and Human Health
This story is adapted from a longer interview with Danny Hunter – read it in full here: Not just any apricot in the fruit basket: Understanding the connections between agricultural biodiversity, human health and nutrition.
This book is a result of collaboration between the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners bringing together expertise and perspectives across different disciplines. Bioversity International, along with other individuals and organizations, has contributed to 2 chapters that review both the links between agricultural biodiversity and food security, and the links between nutrition, biodiversity and human health.
*The GEF 'Mainstreaming biodiversity for nutrition and health' initiative is led by Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Turkey and coordinated by Bioversity International, with implementation support from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and additional support from the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health.