Integrating agroecological production in a robust post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework

Below, we elaborate on how agroecological production can help to support the GBF targets.

Target 1 — reduce the threats to biodiversity

Comprehensive spatial planning for diversified agriculture benefits biodiversity conservation and nature’s contributions to people (NCP)7,8, when integrating multiple spatial scales from local to regional and multi-stakeholder participatory approaches. Diversified farmlands enhance biodiversity, biocontrol, pollination and reduce pathogen and pest impact7, thereby contributing to achieve conservation objectives in proximate protected areas, as more protected areas are seeing impact in intensive land use in surrounding areas9. Agroecological practices can considerably reduce the use of synthetic pesticides10, a major cause of biodiversity loss11. A more effective use of fertilizers can reduce nutrient pollution and mitigate climate impacts by maintaining healthier, carbon-sequestering soil microbiota12. Diversified cropping systems can further mitigate greenhouse gas emissions by, for example, non-crop tree diversification in agroforestry systems, thereby enhancing agrobiodiversity benefits13,14.

Target 2 — meeting people’s needs through sustainable use and benefit sharing

Agroecological production is a comprehensive framework for the sustainable use of biodiversity that also supports productivity and resilience15. Farmers benefit from diversified systems through increased economic resilience, reduced dependency on agrochemical inputs, and in subsistence systems more diverse and nutritious foods16,17,18. Moreover, agroecological production can reduce negative externalities and off-farm inputs, while increasing biodiversity and NCP19,20. Trade-offs between agroecological approaches and yield are often assumed, but not inherent21. New crop varieties, crop combinations and technological innovations will only further reduce yield gaps between conventional and agroecological production19,22, when the availability is fair and locally appropriate.

Target 3 — tools and solutions for implementation and mainstreaming

Eco-certification and agricultural policies — if well informed and implemented — provide important opportunities to encourage diversified farm and landscape measures for conservation23,24. Corporate and government commitments to zero-deforestation and eco-labelling could be enhanced by coupling production and protection goals within innovative investment models that emphasize natural assets. Investing in diversified systems can mitigate environmental vulnerability by embedding resilience into supply chains25. Promotion and equitable participation of indigenous peoples and local communities in decision-making processes is critical to incorporate their perspective on and knowledge about agroecological approaches. Lastly, an understanding of agroecological production, benefits for biodiversity conservation, food security, and overall better quality of life can help to shape new social norms for sustainability6.

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