The decentralised management of agricultural biodiversity by farmers and their communities is increasingly seen as a prerequisite for sustaining food systems, livelihoods and environments. ( The term “farmers” is used here to include people who grow crops and harvest tree products as well as those who work with livestock such as pastoralists and fisher people.)
For example, the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity call for the “Mobilization of farming communities, including indigenous and local communities, for the development, maintenance and use of their knowledge and practices in the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity in the agricultural sector” and encourage countries “to set up and maintain local level forums for farmers, researchers, extension workers and other stakeholders to evolve genuine partnerships.” (COP CBD Decision III/11, 1996). Moreover, the “ecosystem approach” endorsed by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity stresses that management should be decentralised to the lowest appropriate level and that the objectives of management are “a matter of societal choice”. Both cultural and biological diversity are viewed as central to the ecosystem approach, which emphasises greater responsibility, ownership, accountability, participation and use of local knowledge (COP CBD V/6, May 2000).
Although the international community does emphasise the need to involve farming and local communities more centrally in the management of agricultural biodiversity, there are huge gaps in knowledge and institutional constraints that limit national capacities to scale up these approaches. In order to help fill these gaps, this research seeks to analyse how and under what conditions can decentralised governance, farmer participation and capacity building promote the adaptive management of agricultural biodiversity in the context of localised food systems and livelihoods.
This collaborative action research is informed by the following concepts and shifts in understanding:
The overall objectives of the action research are to:
For more information please visit the projects website: www.diversefoodsystems.org