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
No single country has all the genetic resources it needs to adapt to climate change. Recent research shows that two-thirds of the plants that are key to human nutrition in a given country originate beyond its national borders (Khoury et al, 2015). For example, it is estimated that 70% of rice varieties released in Nepal contain genes that come from germplasm originating from other countries.
The need to find and exchange crops and varieties that can grow in different climatic conditions is becoming more and more urgent. The International Panel on Climate Change predicts that agricultural production will decline by 2% every decade until 2050, with yields of major crops in Africa and South Asia declining by up to 8%.
How can countries freely share plant genetic resources, at the same time ensuring that the benefits derived from these exchanges are fair and equitable?
An international agreement - the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (also known as the Plant Treaty) - regulates how countries exchange plant genetic resources.
Since 2012, Bioversity International has been working with national research teams in Bhutan, Nepal, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Rwanda, Uganda, Costa Rica and Guatemala to implement the Plant Treaty and increase their participation in its multilateral system of access and benefit sharing, both as provider and recipients of plant genetic resources.
As a result of this work, policy changes were made in the eight countries, resulting in either new policies and laws or revisions to existing ones to implement the multilateral system.
The Nepalese government has adopted two policies that increase the availability and use of crop diversity for climate resilience. The national team played a key role in revising the 2007 Agrobiodiversity Policy. They also made substantial revisions to their National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plan 2014-2020, reflecting the need to integrate biodiversity into climate change strategies.
In 2015, Costa Rica national governmental agencies signed an agreement to implement the Plant Treaty’s multilateral system, and shared almost 1,600 samples of plant genetic resources conserved in the country.
In Uganda, the national team prepared its first list of crop accessions to be made available through the multilateral system and notified the Plant Treaty Secretariat accordingly, creating the opportunity for users in Uganda and around the world to access germplasm conserved in Uganda. The team also negotiated an agreement between lead agencies across three sectors to define responsibilities and coordinate actions for regulating access to genetic resources and benefit sharing. This overcomes a policy bottleneck that had existed for many years, whereby no organization was clearly recognized to have authority to provide access to crop genetic resources.
Another aim of the initiative is to strengthen countries’ capacity to address how the multilateral system interfaces with other international laws such as the Nagoya Protocol of the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Plant Treaty and the Nagoya protocol have the same purpose but different access and benefit sharing systems so their implementation at the country level is not always straightforward.
In most countries, different lead agencies have responsibility for implementing the respective agreements and they do not have sufficient opportunities to coordinate activities. Many perceive gray areas where it is unclear which regulatory system should apply, and they often do not have the mechanisms that allow them to work together to address these uncertainties.
Bioversity International is also bringing together focal points from both agriculture and the environment in Benin and Madagascar, to jointly build in mechanisms for mutual implementation of the Treaty and the Nagoya Protocol. This work is carried out with the support of the Darwin Initiative – a UK Government funding programme.
Finding ways for mutual implementation of the two agreements was also at the core of a 5-day workshop held in Ethiopia with 11 African countries. The event, co-organized by Bioversity International and the ABS Capacity Strengthening Initiative and partners*, brought together interdisciplinary teams from Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Malawi, Senegal and Uganda.
“What we saw during the workshop is the importance of bringing people together from different focal areas of responsibility that do not normally work together. For example, this workshop is bringing together five member teams from each country including the Plant Treaty and Nagoya Protocol National Focal Points, the GEF national operational focal points, a representative of the ministry of finance and planning, and a competent authority dealing with climate change adaptation in the agricultural sector. Together, they are identifying strategies to work together in a more integrated, programmatic manner, and to develop national roadmaps to address the implementation of the Plant Treaty and Nagoya Protocol in ways that are linked to national economic development and food security priorities. This is significant. If countries are to make the most out of the biological diversity that they have at their disposal, and that they can get from other places, they have got to implement these agreements together,” commented Michael Halewood, Head of Policy Unit, Bioversity International.
*The workshop was co-organized by Bioversity International and the ABS Capacity Development Initiative, in cooperation with the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the African Union, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security and the Japan Biodiversity Fund.