Throughout its six years of experience in Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Turkey, the Biodiversity for Food and Nutrition Initiative (BFN Project) has pioneered a partner-based methodology using indigenous food biodiversity as a lens to address malnutrition, farmer livelihood resilience, and sustainability. To date, the initiative has documented and shared knowledge on 195 nutrient-rich, locally-adapted species that range from African leafy vegetables to Amazonian fruits. These species have the potential to supply valuable micronutrients such as Iron and Vitamin A, as well as ensure more resilient local economies and ecosystems. However, realizing these benefits requires a complex, multi-level approach that puts in place an enabling environment for the species’ conservation and sustainable use.
At the recent 2018 UN Biodiversity Conference COP14 in Sharm El-Sheikh (COP14 of the CBD), the BFN team hosted a side event in which it launched an open-access toolkit entitled “Biodiversity Mainstreaming for Healthy ; Sustainable Food Systems”. This guide compiles case studies from all four countries, key resources and methodologies to share the knowledge accumulated by the BFN Partners, promoting the conservation and sustainable use of local biodiversity. It is free to view and download from the BFN website and CGIAR CGSpace Repository.
The toolkit outlines steps to 1) Provide Evidence; 2) Influence Policy; and 3) Raise Awareness, with an emphasis on both site-specific examples and general areas of focus that can be adapted to other regions. Links to Key Resources collect additional information and contextualise the project methods, for example, in relation to the FAO Voluntary Guidelines for Mainstreaming Biodiversity into Policies, Programmes and National and Regional Plans on Nutrition. Focus points within the toolkit include how to make use of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans, school feeding and procurement programmes, green employment, cultural festivals, and business cases for mainstreaming biodiversity.
The toolkit complements the BFN e-Learning Course, a free tool developed by BFN Brazil with inputs by the other partner countries that targets students, policy makers and practitioners who work in agriculture, environment, and food and nutrition security (available in English, Portuguese, and Turkish).
Given the Convention on Biological Diversity’s affirmation of the link between Health and Biodiversity (Agenda 22) at COP14, as well as the ongoing UN Decades of Action on Biodiversity (2012-2020) and UN Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016-2025), there has never been a timelier moment for this toolkit and for countries to make the most of cross-cutting opportunities that better mainstream biodiversity for food and nutrition. As we anticipate possibilities for shaping the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework, these resources offer valuable inspiration for the development of innovative methods linking agriculture and health with biodiversity.