The Challenge: Embracing nature-based solutions
📢 How can we foster forms of development and prosperity that can equally preserve, restore, and regenerate the state of biological diversity? How can we accelerate the path towards nature-based solutions and make policies, economies, business, and consumption models more respectful of Mother Earth?
Why it is important: defending natural richness
❗ Everything around us is part of an ecosystem that exists thanks to biodiversity and the interconnected relationships it creates. The variety and variability of life on Earth, which include “diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems,” as the Convention of Biological Diversity reiterates, is the web that provides living beings survival on Earth, even though most of them remain unknown.
There are over 80,000 tree species discovered, but less than 1% have been studied while it is believed that at least one-third of the 1.3 million invertebrate species and 70,000 vertebrate species are still unknown. Yet, their presence and service are crucial: we owe plankton 20% of all photosynthesis on Earth, we owe mammals such as bats the power to directly pollinate the flowers of over 500 plants, or from invisible biodiversities such as earthworms services of increasing soil nutrients, drainage, and better regulating the soil structure. Fundamental ecosystem services such as improving air quality, climate mitigation, and better water quality, all depend on biodiversity, including access to food and nutrients.
The more than 175,000 species of fish are the major source of nutrition for 3 billion people around the world, just as the over 30,000 species of terrestrial edible plants provide 80% of the human diet. Yet, as of 2022 more than 40,000 species are listed as threatened with extinction on the IUCN Red List. Also closer home, with a 20% decrease in terrestrial biodiversity populations, a 28% decrease in freshwater ecosystems, and a 52% decrease in marine environments, the Mediterranean basin is increasingly at risk of resembling a natural desert.
This is clear evidence of the importance of replacing our current highly intensive and extractive production models with regenerative ones, starting with food, one of the world’s most important contributors to and victims of climate change. Promoting food and biological diversity also maximizes nutrients, one of the biggest challenges that our global society is facing with the triple burden of malnutrition, the “largest single underlying cause of death worldwide,” as reported by the World Health Organization.
Eventually, preserving and valorizing biodiversity will benefit not only human survival but also mental well-being, with increasing studies on biophilia, or the healing power of nature for body and mind, social well-being with outdoor recreational activities, and global economies, with the market opening up towards green jobs.
The EU Strategy: from biodiversity to achieve climate neutrality
🇪🇺 The European Commission is committed to undertaking all possible measures to reverse biodiversity loss and protect nature both in Europe and globally. To do so, one of the main strategies to implement the EU Green Deal is the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 which is a comprehensive, ambitious, and long-term plan to protect nature and reverse the degradation of ecosystems. Establishing a larger EU-wide network of protected areas on land and at sea that enlarges the Natura 2000 areas, launching an EU nature restoration plan, ensuring better implementation and progress tracking on biological protection, and introducing measures to tackle the global biodiversity challenge are some of the commitments and actions to be delivered by 2030.
These are objectives that are further reinforced through the European Climate Law, a legally binding regulation to lead the European Union towards climate neutrality by 2050; the EU Green Track, a platform created this year – the EU year for youth – to mobilize young people to share their hopes and concerns about nature and biodiversity in light of the UN Biodiversity Conference scheduled for this summer; and the new EU Forest Strategy, which sets ambitious objectives including protecting all EU primary and old-growth forests and developing guidelines for biodiversity-friendly afforestation, reforestation, and tree-planting.
Another essential part of the European Green Deal meant to safeguard biodiversity is the Farm to Fork Strategy, conceived to make food systems fair, healthy, and environmentally friendly. Based on the idea that to achieve sustainable food systems it is necessary to reverse the loss of biodiversity, the Strategy is aimed at reducing the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers, detrimental causes of biodiversity loss, while preserving high-diversity landscape features and boosting organic farming.
Regener-Action needs education, innovation, and Community for Biodiversity
🌱 Future Food Institute is committed to contributing to the protection, conservation, valorization, and enlivenment of biodiversity in different ways and forms starting from food:
- By putting nature, and specifically Earth Regeneration, at the heart of its Initiatives, Future Food researches and facilitates the promotion of regenerative agriculture.
- By promoting panels and conferences to share knowledge and build bridges between different actors and practices across the agrifood system, enabling food conversations on biodiversity with local heroes, or even organizing roundtables on Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA).
- By developing incubators that ensure animal well-being and One Health Approach solutions, such as the Future Farm, conceived to support young innovators to think of new ways to live and work with agritech businesses.
But part of the Future Food Mission on biodiversity is also to spread a new way of living our relationship with nature. This means embracing Integral Ecological Regeneration, to answer the urgent needs of People, Planet, and Prosperity, promoting physical and mental well-being through open-air activities and classrooms, and preserving the natural and cultural heritage that is often forgotten, such as those located in internal areas and rural villages, that, especially in Italy represent privileged places to access and experience nature and biodiversity.
Not surprisingly, the most ambitious project Future Food Institute is carrying out on biodiversity is in Pollica, a small village immersed in the National Park of Cilento and Vallo di Diano where there are 28 Sites of Community Interest (SCI), and 8 Special Protection Areas. Pollica is also part of the network of Biosphere Reserves of the UNESCO MAB program since 1997, of the UNESCO GeoPark Network since 2010, and of the exclusive UNESCO World Heritage List, as a “cultural landscape” of world importance.
From there and on the occasion of the World Biodiversity Day, we launched our Paideia Campus, a real open-air laboratory of land, sea, and landscape biodiversity, in the middle of the Mediterranean basin to promote active conservation, multistakeholderism, and sustainable consumption and production practices, placing humanity again in harmony with nature.
Education for biodiversity is the first pillar of Future Food action: through educational trips, teacher training, Boot Camps, and summer camps, people can learn the diversity of nature first-hand and get in touch with neglected and ancient varieties to protect it.
Innovation for biodiversity is its second pillar of action: thanks to the presence of the Mediterranean Lab, a Laboratory of entrepreneurship and innovation for sustainable development, Future Food is prototyping models and services to ensure a perfect balance between humanity and nature: sustainable agriculture, fishing, zootechnics, blue economy, circular economy, climate-smart living, and sustainable tourism, confirming how innovation can come in support of traditional knowledge and practice to better protect biodiversity and natural resources.
A Community for Biodiversity is the third pillar of action in Pollica: Pollica 2050 is designed to embrace a longer vision of community and biodiversity, by merging the richness of biological, landscape, agricultural, crop, and human diversity characterizing the area. In this sense, humans can be real guardians of nature.
Biodiversity conceived in its holistic dimension will also be the protagonist of the EU Agrifood week, which will be hosted at the Paideia Campus, starting next week. Thanks to the outstanding experts and panelists, we’ll talk about the Farm To Fork Strategy and its effect on soil, the potential of the Agri-Tech & Food-Tech Ecosystem, Regenerative Food Systems, and much more.
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