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Efforts to safeguard biodiversity receive welcome boost

newly launched Global Biodiversity Framework Fund will support sustainable use of natural resources

THE Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has welcomed the launch of the Global Biodiversity Framework Fund during the Seventh Global Environmental Facility (GEF) Assembly in Vancouver, Canada.

The newly established fund will facilitate financing for developing countries — which are often the most biodiverse — to enhance their ability to protect, restore and ensure the sustainable use of natural resources, as established through The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework adopted by 196 Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity at COP15 in December 2022.

“The Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework places agrifood systems at the forefront of an enormous challenge that will require important financial resources, coordination, and commitment to implement win-win solutions for people and the planet. The new Fund is also an essential part of climate action, and a critical step towards making these solutions a reality,’’ said FAO Deputy Director-General, Maria Helena Semedo.

The Fund, uniquely dedicated to supporting the Framework and its action towards halting and reversing biodiversity loss by 2030 and putting nature on a recovery path by 2050, provides an opportunity to receive funding from all sources. Two countries have announced initial contributions to start its capitalisation: Canada pledged 200 million Canadian dollars and the United Kingdom 10 million pounds.

BIODIVERSITY AND AGRIFOOD SYSTEMS
Biodiversity is the variety of life at genetic, species and ecosystem levels. It is essential for food and agriculture and indispensable to food security and sustainable development. It includes the domesticated plants and animals that are part of crop, livestock, forest or aquaculture systems, harvested forest and aquatic species, the wild relatives of domesticated species, and other wild species harvested for food and other products.

Over half of the targets of the Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Framework are directly related to agrifood sectors, and FAO is the custodian of four of the Framework’s headline indicators: ecosystem restoration, fish stocks, areas under productive and sustainable agriculture, and sustainable forest management.
The transformation of agrifood systems to make them more sustainable can unlock solutions that generate multiple benefits, including safeguarding biodiversity which can help address the challenges posed by diverse and changing environmental conditions and socio-economic circumstances.

Actions such as diversifying production systems, for example by using multiple species, breeds or varieties, integrating the use of crop, livestock, forest and aquatic biodiversity, or promoting habitat diversity in the local landscape or seascape, increase resilience, tackle the climate crisis, improve livelihoods and support food security and nutrition.
FAO is a member of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert group on Global Biodiversity Framework Indicators and is also co-leading, with the UN Environment Program (UNEP), the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration which actively contributes to the monitoring and reporting of Target 2 of the Kunming-Montreal GBF related to restoring degraded areas.

FAO AND THE GEF
The GEF serves as a financial mechanism for several environmental conventions, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Minamata Convention and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) which adopted the Global Biodiversity Framework.
Since 2006, FAO and the GEF have partnered to address the most critical issues at the nexus of agrifood systems and the environment. FAO leads various flagship GEF programs, including the Dryland Sustainable Landscapes Impact Program and three Integrated Programs on Food Systems, on Indo-Malaya Critical Forest Biomes and on Clean and Healthy Oceans. These have leveraged FAO’s on-the-ground capacity and technical expertise across diverse domains to achieve commitments to environmental agreements and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Recently, the GEF also approved 26 FAO-led projects with a total of $174.7 million in GEF funding and leverage $1.2 billion in co-financing. These aim to transform agrifood systems into solutions to biodiversity loss, climate change, ecosystem degradation, and pollution on land, in freshwater, and in our seas.

FAO AT THE GEF ASSEMBLY
From August 22-26, environmental leaders from 185 countries are gathering in Vancouver, Canada for the Seventh Assembly of the Global Environment Facility, a high-level meeting that happens every four years.

Building on recent diplomatic breakthroughs on biodiversity loss, toxic chemicals, and the high seas, the GEF Assembly aims to be a critical stocktaking for the Kunming-Montreal Framework 2030 targets to end pollution and nature loss, combat climate change, and propel inclusive, locally-led conservation.

FAO is engaging across the spectrum of GEF Assembly events, including in three high-level roundtable discussions related to Building Cities for People and Planet, Transforming Food Systems and Managing for Environmental Results and Transformational Change.

The Organisation also leads six side events and has two exhibition spaces displaying products from the FAO-GEF projects, including the Coastal Fisheries Initiative and the Common Oceans programme, and promoted a new publication on nutrition in GEF investments.