New framework launched to put seeds at the heart of action on biodiversity loss


PRESS RELEASE

  • New framework launched to promote resilient seed systems and galvanize action on agricultural biodiversity during the climate emergency
  • Benefits of resilient seed systems go beyond economic measure, supporting diverse cultural and culinary traditions, health and well-being, food sovereignty, agroecological landscapes, sustainable local economies, and more — say authors
  • Strategic guide launched to coincide with the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s Working Group meeting in Rome and the World Biodiversity Forum in Davos this week

Under embargo until Thursday, 27 February 2020 — A strategic guide for diverse stakeholders to take a holistic, collaborative approach to protecting and enhancing the world’s seed systems was launched today by the Global Alliance for the Future of Food. Building on momentum around the “Super Year for Nature,” the Shared Action Framework for Resilient Seed Systems is designed to help galvanize action on agricultural biodiversity.

Biodiversity in seed systems is directly connected to withstanding changing weather patterns, improving global nutrition and dietary health, upholding cultural and culinary diversity, and maintaining local economies and strengthening markets. Yet, 1 in 5 of the world’s plant species is at risk of extinction and hundreds of thousands of farmers’ plant varieties have been substituted by a small number of modern, highly uniform commercial varieties, leading to mass genetic erosion. With significant consequences for the future of food, the protection and cultivation of resilient seed systems are inextricably linked to the Sustainable Development Goals, the Convention on Biological Diversity, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the New Urban Agenda.

The actions of a diverse group of players is needed to strengthen farmer-managed and community-based seed systems and to promote innovation and markets that regenerate rather than erode agricultural biodiversity. Guided by a set of common principles and priorities, the Shared Action Framework is therefore designed to increase dialogue and collaboration among farmer associations, Indigenous Peoples groups, civil society organizations, research institutions, policymakers, the private sector, and donors — helping to accelerate much-needed food systems transformation.

Lauren Baker, Director of Programs at the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, said: “If we are to meet the biodiversity goals set for 2030 and beyond, resilient seed systems must be on the agenda. In this critical year for nature, we need a paradigm shift in our approach to food systems. Seeds are at the heart of the future of food and a place where we can make an immediate and meaningful impact. The priorities set out in this Shared Action Framework will serve to conserve and enhance the extraordinary diversity of seed systems we rely on today and to address the critical food, biodiversity and climate challenges we all face.”

The authors celebrate the rich systems of knowledge held by Indigenous Peoples, especially their ecological and cultural stewardship that protects agricultural biodiversity. They also acknowledge how fundamental resilient seed systems are to the everyday practices of small-scale farmers that feed 70 per cent of the world’s population.

Daniel Wanjama, Director of the social enterprise Seed Savers Network, commented: “While documenting Indigenous knowledge and local varieties in Kenya, I met many small farmers who told me that they trust their own food and seed systems because they have been resilient in times of drought, disease and in the face of pests — like the locusts which are causing destruction now. They also told me that within just 20 years, they have seen more than 30 varieties go out of cultivation. The continued loss of local seed varieties is a threat to our food systems and our own survival as a community. Being a participant in the development of the Shared Action Framework for Resilient Seed Systems has given me hope that our sustainable food system agenda and grassroots work with seeds will get more attention and support, and I’m delighted to see it launch today.”

Mobilizing key stakeholders in philanthropy, farmer and civil society organizations, policy and research institutions, the private sector, donor agencies, and more, the Shared Action Framework provides guidance to users on:

  • Policy and Advocacy;
  • Research and Education;
  • Platforms and Alliances;
  • Communications; and
  • Finance

A special compendium, written by Emile Frison and Toby Hodgkin, launched at the outset of this initiative, outlines the critical need to enhance agricultural biodiversity, showcases examples from the field, and sets out recommendations — still valid today — about how to better strengthen and protect community-based and farmer-managed seeds systems. View the report and materials here.

For more about the Global Alliance’s wider work on agroecology and the future of food, visit: www.futureoffood.org.

– Ends

NOTE TO EDITORS
The development of the Shared Action Framework involved 93 people from around the world – farmers, Indigenous Peoples, policymakers, the private sector, researchers, donors, as well as diverse organizations and institutions – who met in Oaxaca, Mexico, a globally important centre of origin for corn and other crops – to develop shared priorities to address threats to agricultural biodiversity. Content about this discussion can be seen here.

Media contact:
Kasia Murphy, Communications Lead
+44(0)777 473 6497 / kasia@futureoffood.org

About the Global Alliance for the Future of Food:
The Global Alliance for the Future of Food is a strategic alliance of philanthropic foundations working together and with others to transform global food systems now and for future generations. We believe in the urgency of transforming global food systems, and in the power of working together and with others to effect positive change. Food systems reform requires new and better solutions at all scales through a systems-level approach and deep collaboration among philanthropy, researchers, grassroots movements, the private sector, farmers and food systems workers, Indigenous Peoples, government, and policymakers. www.futureoffood.org @futureoffoodorg