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International Conference Adopts Declaration on Biodiversity Conservation and Use in an Era of Climate Change

17 February 2010: The International Conference on Biodiversity in Relation to Food and Human Security in a Warming Planet convened in Chennai, India, from 15-17 February 2010, with support from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) and a number of other intergovernmental organizations.

The meeting was attended by 110 participants from 23 countries and included sessions on biodiversity's relationship with sustainable livelihoods, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), agriculture and climate change. At the conclusion of the event, participants adopted the Chennai Declaration, which highlights the importance of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), the role of women and farmers in the sustainable management of biodiversity, and biodiversity conservation.

The Declaration includes a nine-step plan of action for achieving the goals of biodiversity conservation and use in an era of climate change, including: deliver as one by recognizing in national development plans the importance of the use and conservation of biodiversity in agro-ecosystems, which necessitates integration of approaches across government departments confronting rural development, food security, poverty reduction, environment and climate change; strengthen the role of farming and tribal communities by establishing special gene banks for climate-resilient crops; refocus the research and development priorities to enhance the productivity of bio-diverse agriculture, for example by characterizing, evaluating and utilizing landraces and wild crop relatives in crop improvement programmes to transfer traits relevant to climate change; establish climate-resilient farming systems; adequately recognize the role of farmers and farming in the mitigation of climate change; accord economic value to ecosystem services such as land, water, biodiversity and climate change; and launch a climate care movement at all levels.

In its remarks, the FAO underscored its work on Globally Important Agricultural Heritage Systems (GIAHS) and noted that the Declaration may feed into the CBD Conference of the Parties (COP) in 2010. [Chennai Declaration] [GIAHS Website]