Agrobiodiversity workshop in ASEAN: A step towards integrated conservation and use

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Preserving biodiversity in ASEAN member states is crucial for ensuring food security, resilience to climate change, and sustainable economic development. However, challenges such as changing diets, unsustainable land management, and rapid urbanization pose a threat to this biodiversity.

Recognizing the urgent need to address these issues, the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, in collaboration with the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR), organized the National Workshop on Philippine Biodiversity Landscape and Agrobiodiversity Use for Resilience and Nutrition under the ASEAN-CGIAR Innovate for Food Regional Strategy on 5-6 September 2023.

The workshop aimed to assess the current state of agrobiodiversity conservation in the Philippines, identify challenges and opportunities for regional cooperation, and involve stakeholders in promoting resilience and nutrition through biodiversity conservation and use.

In the workshop’s opening remarks, Ms. Emily Monville-Oro, the Philippine Country Director and Acting Asia Director of IIRR, shared that “the workshop’s role is significant in fostering dialogue among diverse stakeholders, highlighting the vital link between agrobiodiversity conservation and resilient food systems.” She added that the Philippine Plan of Action for Nutrition (PPAN) and its call to diversify diets and recognize the pivotal role of agrobiodiversity in achieving this goal is also very much relevant. Additionally, she emphasized that “in order to address climate change challenges there is a need for effective, nutrition-sensitive, scalable, and adaptable solutions”.

During the workshop, participants engaged in various discussions and activities, including mapping existing policies, programs, and initiatives related to agrobiodiversity efforts in the Philippines. They also explored ways to build inclusive value chains, develop community-based nature-positive solutions, and promote public food procurement opportunities. The workshop highlighted existing initiatives such as the Ifugao Rice Terraces Center, the integration of Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Practices (IKSP), and various research and development activities focused on agrobiodiversity. Additionally, strategies were discussed for enhancing inclusive value chains and public food procurement opportunities, as well as successful community-led initiatives such as bio-intensive gardening and indigenous crop preservation.

The meeting underscored the need for greater collaboration and coordination among existing and planned endeavors, as well as aligning the Philippine National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (NBSAP) with Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. The participants emphasized the importance of utilizing allocated budgets effectively and taking action at the local government and community levels.

In conclusion, the workshop served as a crucial step towards integrated agrobiodiversity conservation and utilization. It called for scaling up Philippine initiatives at the regional level within the ASEAN framework and emphasized the need for sustained action and validation of insights gained during the workshop.

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