We often refer to biodiversity by another name - nature. It is the rich variety of all life on Earth along with the places and spaces they call home - forests, grasslands, oceans, rivers and everything in between. We all depend on nature for food, water, clean air and more. But we're losing nature at an alarming rate, putting the planet and ourselves in increasing danger. It is critical that we conserve nature, for instance by creating protected areas and helping to grow population of animals under threat, is critical, but we can only restore nature at the required rate if we also transform food systems and reduce the impacts of our production and consumption. Food systems are presently the biggest driver of environmental degradation and biodiversity loss. They cause 80% of deforestation and the degradation of many other precious habitats such as wetlands and grasslands, 70% of all biodiversity loss on land and 50% in freshwater, and produce around 30% of all greenhouse gas emissions.
At the UNCBD COP 15, world leaders and decision-makers will have the opportunity to approve a historic global plan for protecting and restoring nature in the coming decade. This global plan - known as theglobal biodiversity framework (GBF) - will give us a chance at reversing nature loss by 2030. It is imperative that the GBF explicitly calls for food systems transformation, to reduce their negative impacts on nature but also unleash their potential to build a nature-positive world. The footprint of food production and consumption needs to be halved. Failing to do so means potentially facing irreversible damage to nature, climate and people.
Actions are required across the whole food system, holistically addressing issues like rehabilitating degraded soils, promoting the recovery of pollinators, aligning human and environmental health, reducing loss and waste, and addressing food security and nutrition. As policymakers set targets and develop the GBF they must also focus on how to implement plans one country, one city and one community at a time – and need to invest in people on the ground who are some of our most important stewards of biodiversity. Every nation has a responsibility to develop national plans to tackle food production, consumption and waste, and to collaborate across borders, if we are to address the climate-nature-hunger nexus.
Without bold action and commitment on food and agriculture in the post-2020 global biodiversity framework we will not be able to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. And a failing planet means we won’t be able to achieve food and nutrition security or limit climate change. The inclusion of Food systems transformation in the new framework is simply not optional. It is an imperative if we are to transform our food systems and deliver a nature-positive, climate resilient, equitable and healthy future for all.
A systemic and transformative approach is required, where we:
1. Produce with nature and not against it. We need a paradigm shift from maximizing production at the expense of nature, to optimizing production by working with nature - truly integrating nature and agriculture in a functional and mutually beneficial way. A large body of research shows that we can produce food for all of humanity and at the same time turn food production from a source of environmental degradation to a source of environmental restoration.
2. Ensure everybody has access to and adopts culturally-appropriate, sustainable and healthy diets. In fact, sustainable diets, which reduce negative impacts on nature, are the same as healthy diets, as they provide major health benefits across different countries, both developing and developed.
3. Radically reduce food loss and waste, as recognized in the SDGs.
4. Maintain the biodiversity basis of food production. Shifts in agriculture production and other transformative actions are needed to protect and restore soils’ biodiversity and pollinators.
WWF and World Agroforestry (ICRAF) have announced a partnership to accelerate implementation of food-based actions that will help restore nature. We will partner on major initiatives that support farmers in utilizing the power of natural ecosystems to build healthy and productive landscapes that provide enough healthy and nutritious food within planetary boundaries.
Read the full announcement
Transforming food systems to reverse biodiversity loss and achieve food security and nutrition for all by 2030 is a full day of events, discussion and showcasing of solutions at UNCBD COP15. It is co-organized by co-organized by WWF, UNCCD, UNCBD, WBCSD, IFAD, Environmental Defense Fund FAIRR, CropTrust, TMG, CGIAR/Alliance of Bioversity and CIAT, Equilibrium Research, Plantlife and GAFF and takes place at the Rio Conventions Pavilion on 14 December 2022.
By focusing on transforming food systems to reverse biodiversity loss and achieve food security and nutrition for all, this day will help countries, organisations and the science community develop stronger plans, actions for implementation to achieve the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) under the Convention on Biological Diversity. It will also explore cross-cutting policy responses spanning multiple global agreements.
Through a series of sessions and panels, the event will focus on how to adopt food systems approaches, showcase concrete examples of implementation, encourage stakeholders to include food systems in the targets of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and will strengthen the overall linkage of food systems and biodiversity to the Rio Conventions on climate (UNFCCC) and desertification (UNCCD).
To follow all of WWF's work at COP15 and to read more about climate solutions beyond food visit our main page