2018 was a tough year. Seemingly every day another headline appeared in the international news media on the increasing urgency of the climate change or biodiversity loss emergencies. When the newspapers were not talking about the planet’s increasingly fragile health, human health came under the spotlight, in particular the rise of diet-related illnesses and premature deaths. It’s easy to get despondent at what appears to be a lack of policies and action to tackle these problems.
So I am going to buck the trend and serve up some good news – a hero of the hour has arrived to save the day! Biodiversity can provide the tools and pathways to get us out of trouble, to a safe operating space for humanity. By eating it and planting it, we not only improve dietary diversity for people, but also the health of the farming systems that provide food and income security for millions of people around the world. The even better news? By using more of it in diets, markets and production systems, we will safeguard it for the future.
Today’s global challenges of poverty, malnutrition, climate change, land degradation, and biodiversity loss call for new solutions, innovations, and stronger partnerships that can deliver higher impact.
To respond to these challenges, and building on their complementary mandates and long collaboration, in 2018, Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) committed to joining forces to create an Alliance.
Healthy diets from sustainable food systems
Productive and resilient farms, forests and landscapes
Effective genetic resources conservation and use
In the research highlights section of the Annual Report, you will find stories based on scientific papers and tools produced by Bioversity International scientists working with partners.
These highlights represent just a small selection of the 145 papers produced in 2018.
Bioversity International works with partners around the world including a wide range of funders and research partners who share our vision and mission 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.
Bioversity International is proud to be a CGIAR Research Centre. Supported by CGIAR Trust Fund members and in close collaboration with the other 14 CGIAR Centres and hundreds of partner organizations, including national and regional research institutes, civil society organizations, academia and the private sector, in 2018 Bioversity International participated in:
- Three Agri-Food System CGIAR Research Programs (Forests, Trees and Agroforestry; Grains, Legumes and Dryland Cereals; and Roots, Tubers and Bananas)
- Four Global Integrating Programs (Agriculture for Nutrition and Health; Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security; Policies, Institutions and Markets; and Water, Land and Ecosystems)
- Two Research Support Platforms (Genebank Platform; and Platform for Big Data in Agriculture)
We thank all of our partners for their critical and continued support.
In 2018, total revenue was US$30.5 million and expenditure $32.3 million, resulting in a deficit of $1.6 million. This deficit was purposefully incurred as part of the 3-year development plan for the period 2017–2019, which applied reserves to invest in the growth of Bioversity International by incurring operational deficits in those three years. 2020 will be planned and managed to result in a breakeven position. Despite the deficit recorded, operational reserves remain at a healthy level, equivalent of 127 days of average expenditure, well above the minimum target of 90 days set by the Board of Trustees. This application of reserves has allowed strategic maintenance or increase in staff capacity in key areas, and to shift the income portfolio to increase financial resilience.
For more information, download our 2018 Financial Statements
Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias
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:
Trish Malloch Brown
M. Ann Tutwiler
Doug van den Aardweg
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
Trish Malloch Brown
Writing: Carlo Angelico, Nora Capozio, Jeremy Cherfas, Samantha Collins, with contributions from many of our scientists
Contributors: Maria Garruccio, Annie Huie, Allison Poulos, Consuelo Tenente
Design: Pablo Gallo
Project Manager: Nora Capozio
The IPBES Assessments call for swift collective action to reverse the decline in the biodiversity and ecosystem services we depend on for food. Two of the authors discuss why agriculture must become part of the solution, and not the problem.
In early 2019, the Intergovernmental Policy-Science Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)’s Global Assessment Report highlighted that one million species are threatened with extinction resulting in international media attention. Yet alongside the poster child species, such as the black rhino and snow leopard which made the headlines, is another biodiversity loss emergency – the thousands of plant, animal and fish species that humans depend on for our nutrition. Also at risk are the many insects, birds, microbes and fungi that ensure our ecosystems can deliver our delicious nutritious food. Simply put, biodiversity is not just a nice thing to have, but essential to human health, identity, and survival.
The foundations of the Global Assessment Report rest on four IPBES regional assessments on biodiversity and ecosystem services (Africa, Americas, Asia-Pacific, Central Asia and Europe) and a Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment. Bioversity International along with several CGIAR partners contributed technical and capacity-building expertise. The assessments make clear to policymakers how the contributions of biodiversity and nature are important economically, socially and culturally, for example, providing the continent’s food, water, energy and livelihoods. Yet at the same time, the results sound a clarion call for swift collective action as these valuable assets for sustainable development are in decline, even where action is underway. Can a new hero save the day?
“Agriculture is simultaneously the number one driver of biodiversity loss, the number one victim of that loss,
and the number one solution for biodiversity conservation”
Johan Rockstrom, Professor, Stockholm Resilience Centre
Agriculture is generally regarded as the villain when it comes to planetary and human health. It is the number one driver of environmental degradation and at the same time, it is not providing enough nutritious foods. More than a third of the world’s land surface and nearly 75% of freshwater resources are currently devoted to crop or livestock production. Poor diets are the primary cause of disease and death globally. It is clearly time for a rethink and putting biodiversity back into food systems is a major part of that.
“Agriculture’s capacity to flip from the arch-enemy to the hero of the hour through its increased use of biodiversity offers a major opportunity,” says Fabrice DeClerck, Senior Scientist, Bioversity International and a co-author of several of the assessments. “We know that the food system is broken and major work is required to fix it. Trying to do so without biodiversity is like trying to build a house using a toolbox that contains only hammers. You need the full set of tools.”
“The only way we can make the transformational shift needed to our food systems is through agriculture,” explains Natalia Estrada-Carmona, Associate Scientist, Bioversity International and an author on the Regional Assessment in the Americas. “It is very encouraging that agriculture is now part of the conversation around ways to both conserve and produce – it’s no longer one or the other.”
This view is supported by the inclusion of CGIAR as the most represented agriculture-focused scientific body in the IPBES assessments. Bioversity International, through the CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems, coordinated multi-centre author teams* on the Regional Assessments in Africa, the Americas and the Asia-Pacific, as well as the Land Degradation and Restoration Assessment, and the Global Assessment Report. CGIAR played a significant role in emphasizing agriculture in all the reports, and to support country capacity to engage with the process.
The IPBES assessments were submitted to the 196 countries who convened at the 14th Conference of the Parties (COP14) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Egypt in November 2018, where Bioversity International attended as an official observer. The CBD gave a stark warning – which came in no small part from the IPBES assessments – that most of the current Global Biodiversity Goals are not on track to be achieved by the 2020 deadline – a situation they described as “deeply concerning”. The CBD commended the IPBES assessment findings and urged Parties to use them to inform their action plans to accelerate progress and to help frame the next set of global goals which will be adopted when the countries reconvene in 2020 in China.
Next steps for IPBES
Following the thematic study on Land Degradation and Restoration, the next focus for IPBES will be the interlinkages between food, health and water – a theme presented by Bioversity International and EAT on behalf of CGIAR. “I am very proud that this theme, which we consider critical for the future of human and planetary health, was accepted by IPBES and I am sure that there will be broad engagement from multiple CGIAR centres and partners in this new work,” concludes DeClerck.
*CGIAR Research Centres who contributed to the assessments alongside Bioversity International include:
The International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)
The International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
World Agroforestry (ICRAF)
Bioversity International scientists contributed to 'Chapter 6 – Options for governance and decision-making across scales and sectors1'
Bioversity International scientists contributed to:
'Chapter 1: Setting the scene2'
'Chapter 3: Status and Trends of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functions Underpinning Nature's Benefit to People3'
Asia and the Pacific
1. Stringer, L. C., Osman‐Elasha, B., DeClerck, F., Ayuke, F. O., Gebremikael, M. B., Barau, A. S., Denboba, M. A., Diallo, M., Molua, E. L., Ngenda, G., Pereira, L., Rahlao, S. J., Kalemba, M. M., Ojino, J. A., Belhabib, D., Sitas, N, Strauβ, L., and Ward, C. 2018. Chapter 6: Options for governance and decision-making across scales and sectors. In IPBES: The IPBES regional assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services for Africa. Archer, E. Dziba, L., Mulongoy, K. J., Maoela, M. A., and Walters, M. (Eds.). Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem services, Bonn, Germany. https://www.ipbes.net/system/tdf/ipbes_6_inf_3_rev.1_final.pdf?file=1&type=node&id=16516
2. Rice, J., Rodríguez Osuna., V., Zaccagnini, M. E., Bennet, E. Buddo, D., Estrada-Carmona, N., Garbach, K., Vogt, N., and Barral, M. P. 2018. Chapter 1: Setting the scene. In: IPBES. The IPBES regional assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services for the Americas. Rice, J., Seixas, C. S., Zaccagnini, M. E., Bedoya-Gaitán, M., and Valderrama, N. (eds.). Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Bonn, Germany, pp. 4-61. https://www.ipbes.net/assessment-reports/americas
3. Cavender-Bares, J., Arroyo, M.T.K., Abell, R., Ackerly, D., Ackerman, D., Arim, M., Belnap, J., Castañeda Moya, F., Dee, L., Estrada-Carmona, N., Gobin, J., Isbell, F., Köhler, G., Koops, M., Kraft, N., Mcfarlane, N., Martínez-Garza, C., Metzger, J. P., Mora, A., Oatham, M., Paglia, A., Pedrana, J., Peri, P. L., Piñeiro, G., Randall, R., Robbins, W. W., Weis, J., and Ziller, S. R. 2018. Chapter 3 Status and trends of biodiversity and ecosystem functions underpinning nature’s benefit to people. In IPBES: The IPBES regional assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services for the Americas. Rice, J., Seixas, C. S., Zaccagnini, M. E., Bedoya-Gaitán, M., and Valderrama, N. (eds.). Secretariat of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, Bonn, Germany, pp. 207-362 https://www.ipbes.net/assessment-reports/americas