Biodiversity – Mankind's Life Insurance Policy

A woman picking a berry from a tree and tasting it
Indigenous fruit-tree plantation in Uzbekistan – the SDC supports international research to preserve and promote biodiversity. © SDC

Our planet has remarkable biological diversity. Biodiversity ensures that people have the vitamins and minerals they need and is therefore crucial for food security. The SDC is committed to the preservation of biodiversity and takes due consideration of local knowledge and traditions in its projects.

The SDC's focus

Biodiversity is an important factor for a balanced and healthy diet. Biodiversity guarantees adequate nutrition. The SDC is not only committed to securing enough food for all, but also to a balanced and healthy diet for all. The preservation of biodiversity plays a crucial role in this respect. Within the framework of its food security efforts, the SDC places particular emphasis on agrobiodiversity, i.e. the diversity of useful plants.

At the global level, the SDC participates in efforts to preserve the most frequently used crop varieties such as maize, rice and potatoes. It funds seed banks that ensure the proper storage of seed varieties in developing countries.

The SDC is also interested in the improvement of existing seed systems.  The aim is to build on expert knowledge to preserve traditional seed systems and combine them with modern systems. In collaboration with Bioversity International, a research organisation active in Uzbekistan, other parts of Asia, South America and Africa, the SDC is helping local farmers to cultivate, process and market improved crop varieties.

Local people play an important role in the preservation of biodiversity in each country. They have knowledge about native plants and traditional land use practices. The SDC takes this aspect into consideration in its biodiversity projects. It works with local, regional and global institutions to ensure that local populations in each country accept and maintain the sustainable use of ecological systems.


To cope with biodiversity today is a challenging undertaking. On the one hand, the conversion of natural ecosystems into large tracts of agricultural land results in more agricultural production and a better food supply. On the other hand, however, these developments threaten biodiversity and thereby the self-sufficiency of local populations. The challenge is to use agricultural land considerately for the benefit of all stakeholders. Biodiversity is also important for medical research. Natural and wild plants often are the basis for developing medicines.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), although 30,000 plant species are edible, only 30 plant species are used to meet 95% of the world's food energy needs. Half of the calories consumed globally come from three crops: maize, wheat and rice. This specialisation on a small number of grain and vegetable crops is inherently risky. Sufficient genetic diversity of crops provides long-term protection against unexpected plant pests and diseases.


Current projects

Object 1 – 9 of 9

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Exchanging knowledge and experience to protect Andean forest ecosystems

Part of the Andean forest covered in mist.

01.11.2011 - 31.12.2019

The forests of the Andes are valuable in a variety of ways: they store and purify water, provide protection against natural hazards, and absorb environmentally harmful greenhouse gases. With the ANFOR project, the SDC is contributing to the long-term protection of Andean forests.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Andean Region
Adaptation to the effects of climate change
Adaptation to the effects of climate change
Mitigation of the effects of climate change
Mitigation of the effects of climate change
Forestry development
Environmental policy and administrative management
Forestry policy
Environmental policy and administrative management
Biosphere protection
Biosphere protection

01.11.2011 - 31.12.2019

CHF 8'072'000

Global Sustainable Land Management Platform for Knowledge Management and Decision Support (WOCAT)

01.12.2015 - 30.11.2019

Sustainable Land Management (SLM) is essential for reducing land degradation, restoring degraded land and striving to achieve land degradation neutrality. WOCAT, the Global Sustainable Land Management Platform, is recognised by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) as the primary database for SLM best practices reporting, offers robust and up-to-date knowledge, tools and methods for evidence-based decision-making to implement the most appropriate practices within a given context and to improve land resources, ecosystems and livelihoods. The phase will focus on enhancement of knowledge uptake in decision support.

Support to Recovery and Reconstruction in Nepal Programme (SRRNP)

05.06.2015 - 30.06.2019

Three major earthquakes left over 8’500 people dead, 3 mio homeless and affected one third of the population in Nepal. Switzerland’s contribution to the recovery and reconstruction efforts will ensure the equitable distribution of services and provisions especially from a gender and social inclusion perspective through, the provision of direct recovery and reconstruction support to the affected people, capacity building of the local government and other service delivery agencies.

BIOCULTURA 2015 - 2019

01.06.2015 - 31.12.2019

In the last 5 years the Biocultura programme has elaborated an environment compatible approach for the development of rural communities – known as „Vivir Bien“ in Bolivia, and has contributed to the definition of a legal framework for the climate issue. In the 2nd phase 15.000 families in 400 communities have been receiving support to assimilate the climate changes and national capacities for an efficient and transparent management of the national climate budget have been constructed.

Home Garden

16.01.2014 - 28.02.2019

Small and marginal farmers in Nepal, especially women and children, are regularly exposed to malnutrition and are vulnerable to external shocks such as health risks and natural hazards. Home garden aims to improve family nutrition and reduce vulnerability of such individuals and households. Objectives are to diversify dietary sources of disadvantaged groups in homestead for family consumption and increase capacity for adaptation to natural hazards and climate change. The project strengthens the safety net and the coping strategy of the most vulnerable in Nepal.

Angewandte Forschung zur Anpassung an den Klimawandel

01.06.2013 - 28.02.2019

Bolivien ist von den negativen Auswirkungen des Klimawandels (KW) stark betroffen – insbesondere 500‘000 besonders anfällige in Armut lebende Familien in den Höhenlagen der Anden. Mit dem Projekt soll die Resilienz von armen Familien in den Anden verbessert werden. Mittels eines Wettbewerbs sollen in 4 Jahren rund 100 Forschungsprojekte der zwei bekanntesten Universitäten des Landes finanziert werden. Es geht dabei um angewandte Forschung zu Themen, die den konkreten Bedürfnissen der am stärksten vom KW betroffenen andinen Dorfgemeinschaften entsprechen.

Thematic Fund Civil Society Participation Bulgaria

two old women sitting on a bench

01.07.2011 - 30.11.2019

The goal of the Thematic Fund „Civil Society Participation“ is to empower the Bulgarian civil society organizations as important actors in development and democratic process. Specific objectives are to bring concrete solutions for specific environmental and social challenges as well as to build capacities of the various implementation partners.


Object 1 – 9 of 9

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