How can the international community safeguard agricultural biodiversity more efficiently and equitably, for human and planetary well-being? Delegates gathered in Rome for the tenth session of the Governing Body (GB 10) of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGRFA), ready to address policy, financial, and implementation-related items linked to this central question.
The opening session highlighted the role of crop diversity for food security, environmental sustainability, and resilience of food systems, including for future generations. The day’s deliberations continued with a series of organizational matters and reports on intersessional developments.
The need to ensure close collaboration with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) was one of the key messages of the day. In view of the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) by the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the CBD in December 2022, delegates drew attention to the relevance of several GBF targets for the Treaty’s work, while also highlighting the Treaty’s role in implementing the GBF. Discussions on the Treaty’s draft capacity development strategy, for instance, had participants pointing to the need for complementarity with the CBD’s long-term strategic framework for capacity building and development.
Discussions also commenced on the meeting's core item, the negotiation process for enhancing the functioning of the Treaty’s Multilateral System (MLS) of access and benefit-sharing (ABS), a process first initiated in 2013 and renewed at GB 9. Enhancing the MLS is vital for achieving the Treaty’s objectives, particularly fair and equitable benefit-sharing, and digital sequence information (DSI) is one of the main contentious items in these negotiations. As plenary heard a report on the deliberations of the Working Group to enhance the MLS, linkages with the CBD processes were once again evident. Following the CBD COP 15 decision to establish a multilateral mechanism on benefit-sharing from DSI, a CBD Working Group on this topic held its first meeting the week before GB 10, raising new opportunities for synergies between the two processes.
In the evening, a special event was held on the theme of the session “From seeds to innovative solutions, safeguarding our future.” Bringing together key stakeholders for agricultural biodiversity management, the event featured an interactive discussion on the linkages and synergies between the Treaty and the GBF. Facilitated by Dan Saladino, BBC journalist and author of “Eating to Extinction,” the event highlighted, among other issues, links between cultural identity and crop diversity, and the importance of public awareness in shaping demand for food diversity. The panel also shared insights on mobilizing financial flows to improve biodiversity outcomes, and advocated bringing traditional knowledge and science together to achieve new perspectives. Shared experiences and practices included:
- the Ghana food kitchen, which supports farmers and youth reconnect with traditional food ingredients;
- youth-led campaigns to create awareness and value for local and indigenous foods; and
- establishment of community gardens with indigenous vegetables in the Philippines.