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

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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
Climate change and environment
Environmental policy
Forestry policy
Biosphere protection
Biodiversity

01.11.2011 - 31.12.2019


CHF 8'072'000



Adaptation to Climate Change in Mountains

15.12.2018 - 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.


Plant Variety Protection Legislation and Farmers’ Rights in Developing Countries

01.10.2018 - 30.09.2022

Plant variety protection legislation in accordance with the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV) is gaining importance in developing countries. This kind of legislation often neglects the existing informal seed systems and Farmers’ Rights. SDC supports APBREBES, a network of civil society organizations, to raise awareness and contribute to capacity building on alternative legislation that better reflect smallholders’ needs and practices.


Opérationnalisation de la filière semencière au Tchad

01.05.2018 - 30.04.2022

Au Tchad, le système de production agricole est rudimentaire et les rendements sont faibles. Le pays est régulièrement confronté à l’insécurité alimentaire. La semence est le principal intrant utilisé par les agriculteurs. C’est pourquoi, la DDC contribue à faciliter l’accès à des semences de qualité et adaptées à leur environnement. Ce programme permet aux exploitations familiales d’améliorer leur production et leur revenu et développe l’auto-emploi des femmes et des jeunes grâce à la multiplication de semences.


Crop Trust – Genebank Platform 2018

01.01.2018 - 31.12.2018

The Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) safeguards globally important collections of crop diversity critical for improving food and nutrition security. Genebanks require constant maintenance. The Crop Trust Endowment Fund ensures the long-term funding for the maintenance of these genebanks. The unique bilateral contribution by Switzerland contributes to safeguarding (and building up of) the Endowment Fund.


Improving seed systems for smallholder farmers‘ food security

01.10.2017 - 30.09.2021

Smallholders often use informal seed systems to meet their seed needs. The project increases the access, availability and necessary diversity of adapted seeds to smallholders to reduce their vulnerability to shocks and contribute to their food and nutrition security. In national and global policy dialogues improved and pluralistic seed systems that better respond to the reality and the needs of smallholders are promoted and smallholders will get political recognition for their role in germplasm conservation.


North Macedonia: Nature Conservation Programme

01.01.2017 - 31.01.2021

Switzerland will assist North Macedonia in sustainable management of natural resources through practical application of conservation measures such as regional protected areas and integrated forest management in the Bregalnica region. Further framework conditions will be improved and support is provided in implementing national legislation and the Strategy on Nature. By promoting ecologically and sustainably produced products and services, economic benefit for the local population will be generated.



Innovation and dissemination of technologies for adaptation of agriculture to climate change – AGRIADAPTA

01.07.2015 - 31.12.2020

10'000 families in 19 municipalities of the country improve their food security and their situation of poverty by practising sustainable and climate-smart agriculture. The Project will provide resources so that small-hold farmers in environmentally degraded dry areas affected by climate change and variability develop capacities, exchange knowledge and apply technologies for climate change adaptation.


Support to Recovery and Reconstruction in Nepal Programme (SRRNP)

05.06.2015 - 31.12.2019

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

En los últimos cinco años el programa Biocultura ha elaborado un enfoque compatible con el medio ambiente para el desarrollo con las comunidades rurales, conocido en Bolivia como el "Vivir Bien". Tambien ha contribuido a la definición de un marco legal sobre el tema del cambio climático.  En la segunda fase de su implementación 15.000 familias en 400 comunidades han recibido apoyo para asimilar el cambio climático, y además se ha realizado capacitaciones nacionales para una gestión eficiente y transparente del presupuesto climatico nacional.       


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