Embracing Biodiversity for a Sustainable Future

As we commemorate the International Day for Biological Diversity with the theme “Be Part of the Plan,” it is imperative for all stakeholders to unite in the mission to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. This call to action resonates strongly with the ongoing efforts across the African continent, especially in Kenya, where the interconnection between food systems and biodiversity is profound. The Kenya Food Systems and Land Use Action Plan 2024-2030 stands as a testament to the nation’s commitment to addressing these critical issues. Members of the Food and Land Use (FOLU) Coalition are actively collaborating to advance this plan, working towards a sustainable future where biodiversity thrives.

Kenya has faced numerous challenges in recent years, from global food price surges to local crises exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical conflicts. These issues underscore the urgent need to transform Kenyan food systems. The Kenya Food Systems and Land Use Action Plan 2024-2030 aims to integrate biodiversity conservation into food production and land use strategies, ensuring the resilience of ecosystems that are vital for sustainable agriculture and food production.

Agriculture in Kenya significantly contributes to the economy, directly accounting for 22.7 percent of the GDP and 33.8 percent of the broader food system. It employs over 43.3 percent of the population, including more than 70 percent of rural inhabitants. Transforming this system to promote better nutrition and health requires a paradigm shift that balances agricultural productivity with the imperative of sustaining biodiversity.

AGRA and the FOLU Coalition are central to Kenya’s strategy of integrating biodiversity into food systems. Their collaborative initiatives focus on promoting nature-positive production, equitable livelihoods, and resilience to vulnerabilities and shocks. AGRA supports smallholder farmers by providing resources and training to adopt sustainable agricultural practices, such as enhancing soil health, conserving water, and promoting crop diversity. These practices are essential for maintaining biodiversity and ensuring economic stability by improving market access for farmers.

The FOLU Coalition complements AGRA’s efforts by facilitating multi-stakeholder collaboration, bringing together governments, NGOs, and private sector partners to create sustainable food systems. Their projects emphasize policy coherence, innovative financing, and the incorporation of indigenous knowledge in conservation efforts. This comprehensive approach ensures that biodiversity conservation is integrated into all aspects of food production and land use planning.

Despite these efforts, Kenya faces significant challenges due to rapid urbanization, population growth, and climate change. The urban population is expected to reach nearly 50 percent by 2050, increasing food demand and extending supply chains. These trends require a comprehensive approach to support a growing population under challenging conditions.

The Kenya Food Systems and Land Use Action Plan 2024-2030 promotes a diverse and resilient agricultural model that optimizes biodiversity and enhances interactions between different sectors to create sustainable and healthy diets for all. The plan emphasizes inclusion and gender equality, empowering youth and women to contribute to and benefit from sustainable agricultural practices.

At a recent FOLU coalition meeting held in Naivasha, Kenya, Jeremiah Rogito challenged coalition members to fully commit to the plan for biodiversity conservation. “Being part of the plan means taking concrete actions that contribute to the restoration and preservation of our biodiversity,” Rogito emphasized. He urged stakeholders to support youth in agribusiness, providing them with the necessary skills and resources, and enhancing their access to growth capital. Rogito’s call to action highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts and social inclusion in driving biodiversity conservation.

The theme “Be Part of the Plan” for the International Day for Biological Diversity is a rallying cry for all stakeholders to unite in the mission to halt and reverse biodiversity loss. The Kenya Food Systems and Land Use Action Plan 2024-2030 represents a significant step towards integrating biodiversity into food systems. As we reflect on the importance of biodiversity, let us commit to being part of the plan. Together, we can create a sustainable future where biodiversity flourishes, food systems are resilient, and all people enjoy nutritious and diverse diets. This is our opportunity to make a lasting impact and secure a healthy planet for future generations.

By Jeremiah Rogito, Food and Land Use Coalition Specialist at AGRA.

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