European Learning Network on<br /> Functional AgroBiodiversity
European Learning Network on
Functional AgroBiodiversity

Relevant Policies

The strong link between biodiversity and agriculture is integrated in a number of key policy frameworks. At the global level the Convention on Biological Diversity contains a Thematic Programme on Agricultural Biodiversity (annexed to decision V/5). This Programme recognizes the dilemma of agriculture in that it provides essential ecosystem services (such as soil and water conservation, maintenance of soil fertility and biota, and pollination, all of which are essential to human survival) and, on the other hand, is a major driver of biodiversity loss. Of most direct relevance to the current proposal are the elements of the programme that focus on identifying adaptive management techniques, practices and policies, and on building capacity, increasing awareness and promoting responsible action.

The EU takes this latter element further and has already integrated ‘functional agrobiodiversity’ (called life support systems) in its EC Action Plan for biodiversity in agriculture (2001), a deepening of the EC Biodiversity Strategy of 1998. The more recent EU Communication ‘Halting the loss of biodiversity by 2010 and beyond – sustaining ecosystem services for human wellbeing’ (2006) concentrates much more on the concept of ecosystem services. One of the key objectives identified by the Communication is to integrate biodiversity into sectoral policies, e.g. agriculture. The Action Plan accompanying the Communication identifies 12 actions as part of the target A2.1 ‘Member States have optimized use of opportunities under agricultural, rural development and forest policy to benefit biodiversity 2007-2013.’ An action that is of particular importance to the current proposal is A2.1.6 ‘Broaden extension services, farm advisory systems and training actions to farmers, landowners and farm workers to strengthen biodiversity-related implementation in the next rural development programming [2007 onwards], including support from the LEADER axis.’

At the higher EU level, the Lisbon Strategy (2000) aims to promote economic growth, job creation, and higher competitiveness of Europe in a world market. The contribution of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to the Lisbon Strategy is strong economic performance that goes hand in hand with the sustainable use of natural resources. Since the 2003 CAP reform pro-biodiversity measures (e.g. agri–environment measures, Good Farming Practice, organic farming and the support of Less Favoured Areas) have been promoted, including via the EU Rural Development Regulation (2005).

During the high-level conference ‘BIODIVERSITY PROTECTION - BEYOND 2010 Priorities and options for future EU Policy’ organized by the EC DG Environment and hosted by Greece (27-28 April 2009, Athens, Greece) in order to frame EU post-2010 biodiversity policy, ‘The Message from Athens’ was produced. The Message from Athens aims to identify the priorities and options for future EU policy based on the observation that the EU’s 2010 target will not be met. It is stated that effective integration of biodiversity concerns into other policies is needed in order to encourage market mechanisms that take biodiversity concerns into account (e.g. supporting sustainable agriculture, forestry and fisheries).