Biodiversity

Market with a big variety of vegetables.
Biodiversity ensures that people have the vitamins and minerals they need and is therefore crucial for food security. ©CGIAR

Our planet has remarkable biological diversity. Agrobiodiversity ensures that people have the vitamins and minerals they need and that the ecosystems used for food production function effectively. It is therefore crucial for food security. The SDC is committed to the preservation of agrobiodiversity and takes into account local knowledge and traditions in its projects.

The SDC's focus

Defined as the variety of plants and animals, biodiversity is a key factor in a balanced and healthy diet, by guaranteeing an adequate supply of nutrients through food. 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 agrobiodiversity plays a crucial role in this respect.

At the global level, the SDC participates in efforts to preserve seeds from the most frequently used crop varieties in seed banks. It also works to improve existing seed systems. In collaboration with Bioversity International, a research organisation active in South America, Asia and Africa, the SDC is helping local farmers to preserve and market local crop varieties.

Local people play an important role in the preservation of agrobiodiversity in each country, as they are the ones with knowledge about native plants and 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.

Background

The issues surrounding biodiversity are complex. 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 species diversity 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 since natural and wild plants are often the basis for developing medicines.

Worldwide, there are an estimated 7,000 different plant species used for human nutrition, but rice, maize and wheat now provide more than 50% of all calories obtained from plant sources. In 2019, 75% of the food consumed by people worldwide comes from just 12 plant and five animal species. The diversity of agricultural plant species and varieties has declined sharply over the last century. In China, for example, there were more than 10,000 local wheat varieties in 1949, while barely 1,000 are still cultivated today. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), humanity has already lost three quarters of plant diversity that originally contributed to our diet.

This focus 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.

At the global level, the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity is geared towards the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of biodiversity. The FAO's Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture focuses more specifically on agrobiodiversity issues.

Under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Switzerland has pledged to double its international commitment within 10 years. As a country whose own species diversity is heavily threatened, Switzerland is thus contributing to global efforts to conserve biodiversity.

Links

Current projects

Object 1 – 12 of 20

Adaptation to Climate Change in Mountains

01.12.2023 - 30.09.2027

Mountain ecosystems and societies are particularly sensitive to climate change. Targeted adaptation measures are essential to increase the resilience of livelihoods and ecosystems in mountains. The programme will harness Swiss expertise and generate information on climate change impacts and related adaptation strategies in mountains and feed them into regional science-policy platforms and global policy frameworks for adaptation planning in mountains.


Gulf of Mottama Project

01.01.2022 - 31.12.2024

The unique mudflat ecosystem of the Gulf of Mottama is one of the most important mudflat ecosystems in the world. Communities relying on it as a source of livelihood and the impact of climate change threaten its biological integrity. Building on Switzerland’s specific expertise in Southeast Myanmar, the project aims to conserve the wetland’s unique biodiversity, strengthen climate change adaptation and provide vulnerable communities with sustainable livelihoods and markets.


Enhanced resilience of viticulture in Abkhazia

01.12.2021 - 30.11.2026

A vast area in Abkhazia was contaminated by the explosion of an ammunition warehouse in 2017. Clearance efforts supported by international experts are about to be completed, enabling the restoration of the land for agricultural purposes. Endemic grape varieties will be reintroduced fostering biodiversity and resistance to disease. Growers’ resilience to climatic and economic shocks will be enhanced by setting a sector association and training in advanced agricultural practices.


Enabling development through landmine clearance in the Sengwe Wildlife Corridor

01.11.2021 - 31.10.2023

Switzerland will contribute to achieve Zimbabwe’s 2025 landmine-free deadline by supporting a demining operation in the Sengwe Wildlife Corridor. The project implemented by APOPO seeks to return 84% of the remaining suspected contaminated area to local communities which will be used for agricultural development, ecotourism, and conservation, as well as to provide mine risk education so that food security is enhanced, general wellbeing is improved, and accidents are avoided.


BIOREST - Appui au développement d’une agriculture biologique durable et résiliente dans un contexte de changement climatique en Tunisie

01.11.2021 - 31.10.2025

A travers cette l’intervention, la Suisse consolide les efforts du gouvernement tunisien pour la résilience au changement climatique en accompagnant le développement des systèmes d’agriculture biologiques appliquant les principes de l’agriculture intelligente face au climat. L’appui portera sur les axes de la production végétale et animale, l’encadrement des acteurs et le système de contrôle de l’agriculture biologique. L’approche territoriale adoptée consolide la résilience alimentaire et environnementale des régions ciblées et de la Tunisie.


Living Landscapes for Market Development in Armenia

15.04.2021 - 31.05.2025

Mountain ecosystems in Armenia are an important productive asset for rural communities, but they are rapidly deteriorating due to inappropriate exploitation and management. Within a region-wide project that preserves the natural basis of life through more sustainable use of resources, the Swiss contribution will introduce in Armenia economic incentives for the conservation of natural resources, while creating additional income. This will reduce rural poverty and support the implementation of Armenian policies and international commitments.


Woody Weeds Plus

01.12.2020 - 31.12.2023

Based on the research results of CABI Switzerland and the Centre for Development and Environment of the University of Berne, the Kenyan government implements the national Prosopis strategy aiming at sustainable management of this fast spreading invasive species. The Woody Weeds Plus project coaches this effort and implements a multi-stakeholder approach to address pastoralist livelihoods and to restore pastures and ecosystem services in arid and semi-arid lands. 


CROPS4HD - Consumption of Resilient Or-phan Crops & Products for Healthier Diets

01.06.2020 - 30.06.2025

The agroecological production and sale of neglected and underutilized species offers nutritional and health benefits for consumers, market opportunities for farmers and contribute to the sustainable use of biodiversity and climate change adaptation. In Chad, Niger, Tanzania and India and globally, SDC supports SWISSAID and its partners in establishing agroecological food and seed systems. FiBL, the leading Swiss Research Institute of Organic Agriculture supports this endeavour with scientific evidence.


Bioculture and Climate Change

01.04.2020 - 31.10.2023

Bolivia is highly vulnerable to the effects of Climate Change, particularly in its regions of greater population density and poverty. Over two phases, the program has helped Bolivia to improve the resilience capacity of its most vulnerable communities, while in parallel building up and strengthening the public sector’s capacity in this area. The third and final phase aims to consolidate the mechanisms put in place by the State to implement its climate change related policies at national and subnational levels.


Wyss Center Bern (WCB) – Shaping Sustainable Futures for Nature and People

15.11.2019 - 31.12.2023

The Wyss Center Bern Initiative is a new research and innovation set-up that should help address today’s complex global challenges related to nature conservation and human development. The initiative aims to develop new approaches to narrow the gap between research and practice and identify promising solutions to sustainable development challenges on several continents. The initiative also strengthens Switzerland’s profile on research for sustainable development.


Andean Forest and Climate Change Programme (ANFOR) – Phase II

01.09.2019 - 31.05.2022

The second and last phase of the Andean Forest and Climate Change Programme (ANFOR) will consolidate, share and scale-up validated best practices on how to safeguard mountain forest ecosystems to further shape national forest policies aiming at enhanced resilience of Andean mountain forest ecosystems and increased human wellbeing. The Programme will inform the concerned regional and global dialogue and contribute to an effective implementation of national policies related to environmental integrity.


Landscape Fire Management in the Western Balkans

01.09.2019 - 31.12.2025

Due to a changing climate and unsustainable land use practices, landscape fires have been on the rise in the Western Balkans, while fire management remains generally weak and not adapted for mounting challenges. This initiative will improve capacities in landscape fire management through regional cooperation and strengthen policy and action at national level by articulating the region with multilateral efforts and Swiss know-how and expertise. Local communities, most concerned by landscape fires, will be an integral part of the initiative’s approach to facilitate the establishment of long-term strategies for resilient landscapes.

Object 1 – 12 of 20