At the end of 2016, representatives from 200 countries gathered in Mexico at the 13th meeting of the Conference to the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP13). The Conference theme was ‘Mainstreaming Biodiversity for Well-Being’, reflecting the groundswell of interest by the global community in biodiversity’s potential role to achieve sustainable development, in particular on the importance of agrobiodiversity’s role in achieving more sustainable food systems. Agrobiodiversity holds the promise to make our food systems healthy for both people and the planet to meet today’s global challenges such as malnutrition, climate change and degradation of ecosystem services.
As a result of this groundswell, we are seeing growing interest in Bioversity International’s vision and mission. In November, at the inaugural International Agrobiodiversity Congress co-organized by Bioversity International and the Indian Society of Plant Genetic Resources, 900 participants from 60 countries came together to adopt the Delhi Declaration on Agrobiodiversity Management. The Declaration calls for urgent action to mainstream agricultural biodiversity for sustainable development which Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, described as “a treasure of valuable agrobiodiversity that we have not explored scientifically yet.”
"Agrobiodiversity holds the promise to make our food systems healthy for both people and the planet to meet today’s global challenges such as malnutrition, climate change and degradation of ecosystem services."
Agricultural biodiversity is the variety and variability of animals, plants and micro-organisms that are used directly or indirectly for food and agriculture.
Agricultural biodiversity is the backbone of sustainable agricultural intensification. For example, agroforestry, home gardens, integrated crop–livestock systems, mosaic land uses, intercropping, cover crops, integrated pest management and crop rotations all typically benefit from using agricultural biodiversity.
It is also a rich resource for year-round healthy, diverse diets by providing nutrient-rich species and varieties, which are often well adapted to local conditions. Increasing the number of food groups grown on farms is associated with greater diversity on the plate.
Households which grow a diverse set of crops are less likely to be poor than households that specialize in their crop production. Additionally, crop diversity reduces the probability that a non-poor household will fall into poverty and the probability that a poor household will remain in poverty.
While agricultural biodiversity is by no means the only component needed in a sustainable food system, a sustainable food system cannot exist without agricultural biodiversity.
Healthy Diets from Sustainable Food Systems
Productive and Resilient Farms and Forests
Effective Genetic Resources Conservation and Use
In 2016, Bioversity International produced 184 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 has become more challenging as governments of many high-income countries that support CGIAR have cut their aid budgets, diverted resources to crisis management, and seek clear lines of sight to development results. Nonetheless, Bioversity International’s overall revenue from bilateral grants has grown by 25% since 2012 including the first legally decreed contribution from Italy in 2016 and an additional voluntary contribution. Even without the extraordinary voluntary contribution from Italy, overall bilateral revenue increased 8% over the period. Meantime, development of several ‘transformative innovations’, evidence-based products that promise large-scale results ripe for support by development budgets, will help Bioversity International to recover and grow again following the cuts in revenue in 2015 and 2016 from the CGIAR System Fund.
Revenue in 2016 amounted to US$32 million against expenditures of $30.8 million, resulting in an operating surplus of $1.2 million for 2016. Bioversity International’s reserves were at $12.2 million (154 days of expenditure) at 31 December 2016 compared with $10.7 million (115 days) at 31 December 2015, both of which are above the target of 90 days set by the Board.
For more information, download our 2016 Financial Statements
Cristián Samper (until November 2016)
Julia Marton-Lefèvre (from November 2016)
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.
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
Funding from the governments of the countries where we work is the greatest endorsement of the relevance of our research and includes Belgium, China, India, Italy, Philippines, South Africa and Uganda. In particular Italy the host country for our headquarters continues to strongly support our work through generous voluntary funding and the first allocation of a legally decreed annual contribution. Equally vital bilateral investments from over 50 other sources in 2016 enabled delivery of our science and innovations more broadly in Africa, Asia and Latin America as well as global public goods. Some highlights are outlined below.
In 2016, Bioversity International laid the foundations for its Agrobiodiversity Index, a long-term tool to measure and manage agrobiodiversity across the four dimensions of diets, production, seed systems and conservation. The European Commission was the first to recognize the potential of the Index to enable all governments, the private sector and other decision-makers to assess and track agrobiodiversity in sustainable food systems. We are grateful the Commission took the lead in providing funding to kick-start development of the Index prototype.
Our relationships with the governments of Austria, Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom were further strengthened:
- The Government of Austria is funding nutrition-sensitive forest restoration to enhance the capacity of rural communities in Burkina Faso to adapt to change
- The Government of Belgium is backing the Bioversity International banana genebank (the Musa International Transit Centre, generously hosted at the Katholieke Universiteit of Leuven, and supporting research on ‘Improving agriculture-based livelihoods in Central Africa’
- The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) is supporting a project designed to manage climate related risks and foster productivity in marginal areas of Ethiopia, and another grant to foster ‘Innovative, participatory tools for dietary assessment and nutrition education considering local agrobiodiversity in Turkana County, Kenya’
- The United Kingdom's Department of International Development, through a Sustainable Agricultural Intensification Research and Learning in Africa (SAIRLA) Initiative grant is supporting investigation of ‘What works where for which farmer: combining big data and crowdsourcing for household-specific targeting and learning in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania’; and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, through a Darwin Initiative Grant is supporting the ‘Safeguarding of critical coconut germplasm, and boosting its wider use, ensuring a stable future for coconut breeding and coconut-based livelihoods in the South Pacific’.
Our partnerships with multilateral organizations keen to mainstream agrobiodiversity such as the European Commission and UN Environment and the Global Environment Facility is also going from strength to strength:
- In addition to support from Europe Aid for the design of the Agrobiodiversity Index, the European Commission is funding our contribution to ‘Optimizing the management and sustainable use of forest genetic resources in Europe’ through its Horizon 2020 Research programme
- UN Environment and the Global Environment Facility are supporting a rich portfolio of projects focused on mainstreaming agrobiodiversity conservation and utilization in the agricultural sector to ensure ecosystem services and reduce vulnerability in Armenia, Cuba, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan
Similarly support from foundations for our work is growing, for example:
- Ongoing work with the University of Queensland on banana disease: ‘Banana Bunchy Top Virus mitigation: Community management in Nigeria, and screening wild banana progenitors for disease resistance’ funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
- McKnight Foundation has invested in our project on ‘Democratizing farmer citizen science: designing a coherent methodology from participatory target setting to large-N experiments to ensure engagement and equity’.
These commitments are complemented by the many other supporters of our work who are listed in this report. For the first time we are highlighting important additional in-kind contributions of facilities and experts from Belgium’s Katholieke Universiteit of Leuven and the governments of China, Germany, Nepal, Uganda and Italy among others. We estimate the value of in-kind contributions amounted to at least $5 million in 2016.
For instance we are grateful to the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) for its in-kind support through the Centre for International Migration (CIM) and Development which assigns Integrated Experts to work in our organization. We currently have a nutrition expert working in Kenya on improving dietary diversity in Vihiga County, Western Kenya and one in India who is working to support the integration of soil biodiversity as a component of agrobiodiversity into Bioversity International's programmes. Our CIM experts are instrumental in strengthening our partnership with German universities and organizations, as well as local institutions, NGOs and farmer communities in the countries they are working.
Finally, we are pleased to acknowledge Maccarese SpA who own our headquarters building and generously agreed to a reduction in the rental charge.
In 2016, our funding partners included:
- CGIAR Fund (includes: Abu Dhabi, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Canada, China, Denmark, European Commission, Finland, France, IDRC, IFAD, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Luxembourg, Mexico, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, UK, USA, World Bank)
- Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)
- Harvest Plus
- International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA)
- International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
- International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
- International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA)
- International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT)
- International Potato Center (CIP)
- International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
- Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
- Christensen Fund
- Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco
- MacArthur Foundation
- Margaret A. Cargill Foundation
- Marin Community Foundation
- McKnight Foundation
- Swift Foundation
- Vanguard Trust
- Wellcome Trust
- World Cocoa Foundation
Governments and intergovernmental institutions
- European Commission
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO)
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN/ Global Environment Facility (FAO-GEF)
- International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
- Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD)
- South Africa
- UN Environment/Global Environment Facility (UNEP-GEF)
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
Other funding partners
- Centre Africain de Recherches sur Bananiers et Plantains (CARBAP)
- Crop Trust
- Fontagro (Regional Fund for Agricultural Technology)
- Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC)
- Hivos, Humanistisch Instituut voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking
- Institut D'Economie Rurale (IER)
- InterAmerican Institute for Global Change Research (IAI)
- IORA Ecological Solutions
- McGill University
- Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research (NIBIO)
- Oregon State University
- Programme de Promotion de L'Exploitation Certifiée des Forêts (PPECF)
- RSF Social Finance
- The Nature Conservancy
- University of Illinois
- University of Queensland
- Wageningen University
- World Resources Institute (WRI)
- WYG International Limited