Choosing the countries

• Rationale for a multi-country project, and the selection of the countries Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Turkey.

Country selection under the GEF funding mechanism, or any other mechanism for that matter, is not as straightforward as it may seem and may have to undergo several iterations before the official country list is established. In the BFN Project’s initial stage in 2006, Brazil, Cameroon, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Peru and South Africa had been chosen based on the extraordinary diversity of ecosystems and food species these countries supported - the same criteria that subsequently led to the selection of Sri Lanka and Turkey. Six years later, the project was approved in its current form with the governments of Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Turkey spearheading activities.

As mentioned, the four countries were selected for reasons including the uniqueness and global significance of their biodiversity and ecosystems, and the potential for mobilizing agricultural biodiversity as a resource for food security and livelihoods. An enormous array of biological diversity exists collectively between the four countries including many endemic plant species of potentially high value from a nutritional and livelihoods perspective. The agricultural biodiversity within agroecosystems and surrounding landscapes — including diversity in species and crop varieties, neglected or orphan crops, home gardens and niche crops, including aquatic animal resources and forest margins or patches — is vitally important as a global source of micronutrients and dietary diversity. Yet, the use of these indigenous, largely plant genetic resources is still scarcely explored, appreciated or conserved, despite their potential contributions to food security, nutrition and the reduction of malnutrition (issues outlined in Figure 5.A3). This biological diversity is also increasingly exposed to threats and barriers in all four countries, including unsustainable harvesting, land degradation, urbanization, changes in land use, droughts and floods including neglect as a result of the marketing and promotion of simplified food systems (see Chapter 4).

Although Brazil, Kenya, Sri Lanka and Turkey had projects and activities underway that addressed biodiversity with high nutritional potential, this was carried out in a limited, uncoordinated and often fragmentary way, leading

A3 Overview of the country contexts

FIGURE 5. A3 Overview of the country contexts

(Sources: MoH Brazil, 2008-2017; Katulanda et al., 2010; MoH Kenya, 2011; $ekercioglu et al., 2011; World Bank, 2015; MMA, 2017; Tan et al., 2017; FAO, 2019; Statista, 2019).

to missed opportunities for linkages and synergies with relevant national, regional and global initiatives. When the project commenced in 2012, the countries had all undertaken limited activities in areas closely related to the project. Largely unheard of outside of the country, Brazil had set up a national Plants for the Future Initiative (detailed in Box 5.B4) specifically to focus on neglected local biodiversity, and had carried out initial prioritization, research and documentation work that provided an excellent institutional template for dealing with the types of biodiversity under consideration. In Kenya, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), the Kenyan Resource Centre for Indigenous Knowledge (KENRIK) and the National Museums of Kenya (NMK) had all undertaken work on local biodiversity for food and nutrition, carrying out some research and development work, as well as promotion and awareness especially on indigenous African leafy vegetables. In Sri Lanka, the Department of Agriculture had spearheaded most research and development on biodiversity with high nutritional potential.

The countries had also been vocal in national, regional and global fora that drew attention to the importance of biodiversity for food and nutrition and, in 2008, all four countries had actively supported the establishment of the CBD’s Cross-cutting initiative on biodiversity for food and nutrition framework6 (previously described in Chapter 2). However, at the institutional, sectoral and policy level, Brazil was the only country that had established a globally recognized cross-sectoral institutional platform for dealing with the complexity of food security that had promising results (Box 5.B6). The remaining countries had rudimentary policy frameworks covering biodiversity, agriculture, nutrition and food security, and had explored in a limited fashion value chains for agricultural biodiversity and nutrition products. Most of these initiatives, which did offer something to build on, tended to operate in a sectoral vacuum without the multi-disciplinary and cross-sectoral efforts necessary to effectively mobilize biodiversity for food and nutrition. Furthermore, the lack of sectoral integration in the key areas where biodiversity can make a positive impact (e.g. agriculture, health and environment) meant limited financial and political support within countries, leading to limited resources, capacity and skills to better harness this diversity. Hence, the conservation and sustainable utilization of biodiversity for food and nutrition continued to meet many of the barriers detailed in Section В (Figure 5.B2).

The global nature of the project facilitated cross-country sharing of knowledge and experiences, ultimately bringing project outcomes and lessons learned to a much wider international arena for greater impact. Considerable South- South cooperation enabled countries to learn from each other, replicating approaches and fostering collaboration and healthy competition as a catalyst for innovation and improvement, both nationally and globally.

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