Agricultural Biodiversity

Programme of Work

At its third meeting in Buenos Aires in November 1996, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention decided to establish a multi-year programme of work on agricultural biological diversity (decision III/11), aiming to:
  • promote the positive effects and mitigate the negative impacts of agricultural systems and practices on biodiversity in agro-ecosystems and their interface with other ecosystems;
  • promote the conservation and sustainable use of genetic resources of actual and potential value for food and agriculture;
  • promote the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the use of genetic resources.

The programme of work was endorsed by the COP at its fifth meeting in Nairobi in May 2000 (decision V/5, Annex), on the basis of the main findings of an assessment of ongoing activities and instruments on agricultural biodiversity carried out by the Secretariat and the FAO (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/5/INF/10) and the recommendation of SBSTTA at its fifth meeting (recommendation V/9).

The programme of work on agricultural biodiversity is based on four mutually reinforcing elements:
  1. Assessments: to provide an overview of the status and trends of the world's agricultural biodiversity, their underlying causes, and knowledge of management practices.
  2. Adaptive Management: to identify adaptive management practices, technologies and policies that promote the positive effects and mitigate the negative impacts of agriculture on biodiversity, and enhance productivity and the capacity to sustain livelihoods, by expanding knowledge, understanding and awareness of the multiple goods and services provided by the different levels and functions of agricultural biodiversity.
  3. Capacity Building: to strengthen the capacities of farmers, indigenous and local communities, and their organizations and other stakeholders, to manage agricultural biodiversity sustainably so as to increase their benefits, and to promote awareness and responsible action.
  4. Mainstreaming: to support the development of national plans and strategies for the conservation and sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity and to promote their mainstreaming and integration in sectoral and cross-sectoral plans and programmes.
The linkages between and among these elements are a reflection of the Ecosystem Approach, the primary framework for action under the Convention.

The programme also addresses the following cross-cutting initiatives:

In 2002, at its sixth meeting, the COP adopted the steps for the further implementation of the programme of work by the Executive Secretary and partner organizations, and the reporting schedule (decision VI/5, Annex I).

In 2004, at the seventh meeting of the COP, the preparation of the final report of the comprehensive assessment of agricultural biodiversity and related milestones were postponed by two years (decision VII/3).

In 2006, at its eighth meeting, the COP requested the Executive Secretary, in partnership with the FAO and in consultation with other relevant international organizations, to prepare the full review of the programme of work on agricultural biodiversity for consideration by the COP at its ninth meeting (decision VIII/23, part D).

In 2008, at its ninth meeting, the Conference of the Parties in decision IX/1 decided to integrate the issue of biofuel production and use into the programme of work on agricultural biodiversity.