Our food and agricultural systems depend in countless ways on the plants,
animals and micro-organisms that comprise and surround them. Biodiversity,
at every level from genetic, through species to ecosystem, underpins the
capacity of farmers, livestock keepers, forest dwellers, fishers and fish farmers to
produce food and a range of other goods and services in a vast variety of different
biophysical and socio-economic environments. It increases resilience to shocks and
stresses, provides opportunities to adapt production systems to emerging challenges
and is a key resource in efforts to increase output in a sustainable way. It is vital to
efforts to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda.
Over the last two decades, FAO has prepared country-driven global assessments of
the genetic resources of crop plants, livestock and forest trees. An assessment covering
aquatic genetic resources will shortly be published. What has been missing to date has
been an assessment of how biodiversity as a whole contributes to food and agriculture,
including “associated biodiversity”, the myriad components of biodiversity that support
food and agricultural production by providing services such as pollination, pest control,
soil formation and maintenance, carbon sequestration, purification and regulation of
water supplies, reduction of disasters threats, and the provision of habitat for other
beneficial species. The urgency of closing knowledge gaps in this field is underlined
by the mounting evidence that the world’s biodiversity is under severe threat and by
the ever-growing challenges facing food and agriculture, including particularly those
related to the impacts of climate change. The publication of The State of the World’s
Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture is therefore a significant and timely milestone.

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