The 1st International Agro-biodiversity Congress that was held in New Delhi from 6 November to 9 November 2016 concluded with adoption of Delhi Declaration on Agro-biodiversity Management. The event saw participation of 900 participants from 60 countries.
During the Congress, the delegates of all countries discussed various aspects of access, conservation and use of the agro-biodiversity in 16 technical sessions, four satellites sessions, a gene-bank roundtable, a public forum, a farmers’ forum and poster sessions.
Based on these deliberations, the delegates unanimously adopted the Preamble and following declaration at the concluding session on 9 November 2016. Declaration
• Participating nations called to accord top priority to the agro-biodiversity conservation and their sustainable use towards achieving targets of SDGs relating to poverty alleviation, food and nutritional security, good health, gender equity and partnership.
• They recognized the importance of traditional knowledge on agro-biodiversity of farm men and women, pastoralists and other tribal and rural communities. Their central role in its conservation and use for a food and climate resilient world was considered. They called upon to develop the necessary funding, legal and institutional mechanism to ensure and facilitate their continued active participation.
• The participating nations urged researchers and policy-makers to initiate, strengthen and promote complementary conservation strategies to conserve and use agro-biodiversity including crop wild relatives in more dynamic way to ensure a continuum between ex situ, in situ and on farm conservation strategies to combat food and nutrition insecurity as well as adverse effects of climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss.
• They also invited researchers to employ modern technologies including, but not limited to, genomic, space, computational, and nano-technologies for characterization, evaluation and trait discovery using genetic resources. The aim should be to achieve efficiency, equality, economy and environmental security in agricultural production systems and landscapes.
• The participants reemphasized on the necessity of global exchange of plant, animal, aquatic microbial and insect genetic resources for food and agriculture to meet the ever-growing food and nutritional needs of each country. Nations also need to harmonise their multiple legal systems and prioritize the improvement of their phytosanitary capacities to facilitate safe transfer of genetic resources using latest technologies and trans-boundary partnerships.
• They recommended the governments and societies to put greater emphasis on public awareness and capacity enhancement programs on agro-biodiversity conservation and use.
• They suggested for developing and implementing an agro-biodiversity index to help monitor conservation and use of agro-biodiversity.
• The nations urged public and private sector partnerships to actively invest in and incentivize the utilization of agro-biodiversity to address malnutrition, increase the resilience and productivity of farms, and enhance ecosystem services leading to equitable benefits and opportunities with particular emphasis on women and youth.
• The UN is urged to consider declaring soon a ‘Year of Agro-biodiversity’ to draw worldwide attention and to catalyze urgent action.
• They recommended that a congress focusing on agro-biodiversity be held each 3-5 years in order to maintain emphasis on this important area that we have realized in Delhi, for which a continuing committee be formed.
Agricultural biodiversity Congress
The congress was called to discuss the solution of problems on agricultural biodiversity (agro-biodiversity), as at present the world is facing challenges, like global malnutrition, climate change, increasing agriculture productivity, increasing shrinking food security and many more. The congress was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at Vigyan Bhawan on 6 November 2016.
The congress aimed at initiating and encouraging a dialogue among relevant stakeholders, including farmers, to better understand everyone’s role in agro-biodiversity management. It also aimed at conservation of genetic resources.
The event was co-organised by the Indian Society of Plant Genetic Resources and Bioversity International, a CGIAR Research Center headquartered in Rome, Italy. It received support from many Indian and international organisations engaged in the conservation and use of genetic resources.
Agricultural biodiversity (agro-biodiversity) is the foundation of sustainable agricultural development and is an essential natural resource to ensure current and future food and nutrition security.
Why India was chosen as the Venue to to host the first-ever International Agro-biodiversity Congress?
India was chosen to host the Congress because of its diverse nature. Being one of the most diverse countries in the world, India that takes up of only 2.4 percent of the world’s land area, harbours 7 to 8 percent of all recorded species.
As per Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 2014, Species that breathe in India include over 45000 species of plants and 91000 species of animals (CBD, 2014).