Positioning genetic resources for food and agriculture in the climate change agenda

 

by Linda Collette, Secretary, Commission on Genetic Resources for  Food and Agriculture (CGRFA)

Genetic resources for food and agriculture play a crucial role in food security, nutrition and livelihoods and in the provision of environmental services. They are key components of sustainability, resilience and adaptability in production systems. They underpin the ability of crops, livestock, aquatic organisms and forest trees to withstand a range of harsh conditions. Thanks to their genetic diversity plants, animals and micro-organisms adapt and survive when their environments change. Climate change poses new challenges to the management of the world’s genetic resources for food and agriculture, but it also underlines their importance.

Given the importance of the issues, FAO prepared, at the request of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, thematic studies on the interactions between climate change and plant, animal, forest, aquatic, invertebrate and micro-organism genetic resources (available at www.fao.org/nr/cgrfa/cross-sectorial/climate-change/en/). The results of these studies are summarized in the forthcoming book entitled: “Coping with climate change – the roles of genetic resources for food and agriculture”. The book will be launched in January and available at www.fao.org/nr/cgrfa.

After a brief overview of the main international processes relevant to climate change, the book presents six sections dealing with the various sectors of genetic resources for food and agriculture. Each section addresses two key questions: 1) What are the possible effects of climate change on genetic resources for food and agriculture and how does it influence their management? 2) What are the specific roles of genetic resources for food and agriculture in coping with climate change? The book ends with a discussion of conclusions and opportunities identified.

This book aims to raise awareness of the important roles of genetic resources for food and agriculture in coping with climate change and to contribute to the mainstreaming of genetic resources for food and agriculture into climate change adaptation and mitigation planning at national and international levels.

For more information please contact, Linda Collette, Secretary of the Commission on Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)  at cgrfa@fao.org

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