Delegates from 109 countries have adopted a Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources, the first internationally agreed framework to halt the erosion of livestock diversity and support the sustainable use, development and conservation of animal genetic resources. “This is a milestone in international efforts to promote the wise management of the world’s animal genetic resources for food and agriculture,” said José María Sumpsi, FAO Assistant Director-General for Agriculture and Consumer Protection, on the closing day of the first International Technical Conference on Animal Genetic Resources, held in Interlaken, Switzerland, last week. “It will provide the framework for action and international cooperation for many years to come. It is a visible sign of the urgency that all countries and regions give to ensuring the survival of these crucial resources, and to improving their use to achieve global food security and sustainable development.”
Strategic priorities outlined
“By agreeing on these strategic priorities for action, the international community has signaled its commitment to ensuring that the world’s precious animal resources are sustainably used and developed and that efforts are stepped up to better inventory, monitor and conserve them,” Sumpsi said.
At least one livestock breed a month has become extinct over the past seven years, and around 20 percent of the world’s livestock breeds are at risk of extinction, according to the FAO report, The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, released at the conference.
The Global Plan of Action draws on the findings of the report, which is based on information from 169 countries and provides the first authoritative assessment of global livestock biodiversity.
According to Sumpsi, the country-driven process that led to the production of the report and paved the way for the Interlaken conference has created a far better understanding of the importance of animal genetic resources to food security and the nature of the threats they are facing.
“But we cannot stop here,” he said. “Adopting a Global Plan of Action is not an end in itself. It now needs to be implemented. Governments must now demonstrate the sustained political will to do so, and resources will have to be found, nationally and internationally. Success will depend on farsighted cooperation among many stakeholders. Governments, international organizations, the scientific community, donors, civil society organizations and the private sector all have important roles to play.”
The action plan identifies four strategic priority areas: characterization, inventory and monitoring of trends and risks; sustainable use and development; conservation; and policies, institutions and capacity building.
It calls for the provision of technical assistance, especially to developing countries and countries with economies in transition, to help them implement the plan’s provisions.
Substantial funding needed
A major breakthrough during the three-day negotiations was agreement on implementation and financing of the plan, which, the conference acknowledged, would require substantial financial resources and long-term support for national, regional and international animal genetic resources programmes.
“Governments are now strongly committed to implementing the global plan and are prepared to mobilize adequate funding,” Sumpsi said. “The ability of developing countries to effectively implement their commitments under this plan will depend on the effective provision of funding.”
- International Technical Conference on Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture
- The State of the World’s Animal Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (pdf)
- Farm animal diversity under threat
- Discover the world of animal genetic diversity
- Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (CGRFA)
Teresa Buerkle, Media Relations, FAO
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