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
Distilled from eight years of working with countries to implement the Plant Treaty, a new decision-making tool will help all countries craft suitable instruments to let them take full advantage of the multilateral system of access and benefit sharing.
As countries around the world come to grips with climate change, farmers and plant breeders know that they will need to find new traits, and possibly new crops, to maintain food security. Historically, two-thirds of the plants crucial to food security in any given country come from outside that country's borders. The genetic resources needed to adapt important crops to climate change are also likely to come from elsewhere. Fortunately, the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA or Plant Treaty) exists to make that easier. It created mechanisms to ease the international exchange of crop and forage diversity, and for sharing the benefits derived from the use of those resources.
The Plant Treaty, for all its importance, is not necessarily easy to implement. Over the past eight years, Bioversity International, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Plant Treaty Secretariat and partners from eight countries1 worked together to implement this important legal instrument at national levels, and have created a decision-making tool that will help other countries to understand and make use of the Plant Treaty as they cope with climate change.
Among the challenges countries face, for example, is the question of who is responsible for what. In addition to the Plant Treaty, many countries have also signed up to the Nagoya Protocol of the Convention on Biological Diversity, which also addresses the conservation and use of plant genetic resources. But the Plant Treaty and the Nagoya Protocol have different access and benefit-sharing mechanisms and are often implemented by different government agencies. Those agencies often do not have sufficient opportunities to cooperate and coordinate, and indeed may not be aware of which international agreement is relevant in particular circumstances.
The Decision-Making Tool for National Implementation of the Plant Treaty’s Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-Sharing is the fruit of more than eight years working with national partners in several countries to help them put in place national laws, policies and systems.
“As a result of our accumulated experience,” said Michael Halewood, Head of Policy at Bioversity International, “the tool is straightforward, logical and sensitive to the kinds of challenges that policymakers and other stakeholders face when developing such systems.”
It takes the form of a series of questions and answers that address some of the issues that face national decision-makers:
- Who is responsible for promoting and coordinating national implementation?
- How to deal with requests for purposes that are (or may be) beyond the scope of the multilateral system?
- Who monitors the use of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture under the multilateral system and enforces the multilateral system’s terms and conditions?
“These are just three of the eleven issues we tackle,” Halewood said. Each section also provides draft ‘baseline’ legal provisions that countries can adapt and incorporate into new laws and administrative guides.
The tool is being promoted to all parties to the Plant Treaty to help them improve their implementation capacity.
Meanwhile, all eight countries involved in the development of the tool have made a lot of progress implementing the Plant Treaty. All have developed packages of policy measures for day-to-day implementation of the multilateral system, seven have sent messages to the Plant Treaty Governing Body confirming which genetic resources in their countries are included in the multilateral system. They have also engaged in capacity-building exercises to identify genetic resources in genebanks around the world that are potentially adapted for changing climate conditions within their countries.
The capacity-building exercises highlighted the importance of putting systems in place at a national level to implement, and take advantage of, the multilateral system of access and benefit sharing.
“All countries will need to access plant genetic resources internationally to cope with climate change,” said Halewood. “That means they will need to make full use of the Plant Treaty and its multilateral system of access and benefit sharing.”
The decision-making tool will help policymakers to do just that. As such, the tool represents an impressive scaling-up of Bioversity International’s efforts to date to help countries, and their farmers, plant breeders and others, to access, use and share plant genetic diversity. Climate change makes this work in the policy arena even more important for the future.
 Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Costa Rica, Côte d’Ivoire, Guatemala, Nepal, Rwanda and Uganda
Decision-Making Tool for National Implementation of the Plant Treaty’s Multilateral System of Access and Benefit-Sharing
This tool was developed by a team comprising Michael Halewood (Bioversity International), Isabel López Noriega (Bioversity International, Isabel Lapeña García, Jorge Cabrera Medaglia, Gerald Moore, Kathryn Garforth, Tobias Kiene, and Juanita Chaves Posada.
Citation: Joint Capacity Building Programme (Bioversity contributing authors: Halewood M., López Noriega I.) 2018. Decision-making tool for national implementation of the Plant Treaty’s multilateral system of access and benefit-sharing. Bioversity International, Rome, Italy. ISBN 978-92-9255-082-0. http://hdl.handle.net/10568/93396
This initiative is supported by the Directorate-General for International Cooperation (DGIS) of the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Bioversity International is the main executing agency. The project falls under the overall coordination and guidance framework of the FAO/Treaty Secretariat/Bioversity International Joint Capacity Building Programme for Developing Countries on the Implementation of the ITPGRFA and its multilateral system.
This work was implemented as part of the CGIAR Genebank Platform and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), which is carried out with support from the CGIAR Trust Fund Donors and through bilateral funding agreements. For details please visit https://ccafs.cgiar.org/donors.
- A decision-making tool for countries to implement the Multilateral System of Access and Benefit Sharing
- Mutually supportive implementation of the Plant Treaty and the Nagoya Protocol in Benin and Madagascar
- The Genetic Resources Policy Initiative 2: strengthening national capacities to implement the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (GRPI 2)