December 19, 2019

Integrated strategies on biodiversity are key for the well-being of environmental and human systems

Tom Derr Manon Koningstein

This blog is a summary of the FAO-EcoAgriculture Partners High-Level Dialogue on ´2020 Year of Biodiversity: How Can Integrated Landscape Strategies Contribute?´, held December 10th by FAO and EcoAgriculture Partners in Washington DC. 

Biodiversity as a global priority

In 2020 and beyond, biodiversity is set to be a global priority as nations and civil society partners recognize the increasingly harsh impacts of climate change and the rapid decline of species as a consequence. 

Not only will this be confirmed at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) set to take place in China in October of 2020, biodiversity will also play a big role as priorities are being set for the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration.

A key question is: ´What roles can and should integrated, locally-led landscape initiatives play in this strategy and how can national and international policies support actors to play these roles effectively?´

To answer this question, EcoAgriculture and FAO jointly hosted a High-Level Dialogue past December 10th in Washington, DC. This Dialogue brought together experts who have been studying and promoting wild biodiversity conservation, agrobiodiversity conservation, and ecosystem restoration through landscape approaches.

Integrated strategies as one of the most important solutions

The stage for the Dialogue was set by Tom Pesek (Senior Liaison Officer FAO in North America) and Sara Scherr (President and CEO of EcoAgriculture Partners) by recognizing the growing network of partnerships, coalitions, and initiatives focused specifically on biodiversity conservation. 

Perhaps more pertinently, Sherr stated:

The value of landscapes are being recognized at the international and national level in a lot of different ways by groups like the high-level political forum of the Sustainable Development Goals because they recognize that these integrated strategies may be one of the most important solutions for reaching their objectives.

The Dialogue continued with an Expert Panel, including Will Turner (Senior Vice President of Global Strategy and Senior Scientist at Conservation International), Mohamed Bakkar (Lead Environmental Specialist for Program Strategy at the Global Environment Facility), and Thomas Lovejoy (Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation). All offered unique perspectives from their experiences working at the landscape level for some of the world’s most prominent conservation organizations.

Opportunities for scaling up landscape programs

Turner highlighted three key opportunities when it comes to scaling up landscape programs. These include (1) the use of new technology to collect and interpret data at multiple levels, (2) shifting the narrative so that nature is properly valued, and (3) going beyond individual project goals to working collaboratively in strong coalitions. 

Bakkar spoke of similar opportunities explaining that when countries are able to break down silos and work beyond specific sectors they are better positioned to operate under a systems lens. This has benefits for producers throughout value chains as well as ecosystems and biodiversity.

Biodiversity is a key indicator for the health and well-being of environmental and human systems

Lovejoy concluded the dialogue finding that

“the state of biodiversity is the bottom line for measuring the state of the global environment.”

Lovejoy also emphasized “we have a tendency to talk about managing the planet and its systems to prevent catastrophe, but really we need to manage ourselves” reminding us that our ability to collaborate is ultimately key to our success.

Building bridges across sectors and institutions as the solution

By the end of the discussion it was clear that while the challenges are daunting, solutions do exist. By enhancing collaboration on a massive scale it is possible to stimulate biodiversity enough to rebound. Integrated landscape management approaches will undoubtedly play a critical role in ensuring this happens.

This event was live-streamed, and a recording can be found here on our EcoAgriculture partners Facebook page.

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