Over the past four years, the partners of the European DYNAVERSITY project have analysed and described the networks and actors involved in the dynamic management of agrobiodiversity. The main objective is the consolidation and enlargement of the on-farm network European Coordination Let’s Liberate Diversity!
Agrobiodiversity must be used, and only in this way will we be able to ensure its conservation and preservation for future generations. The motto used by FAO back in the early 2000s was “Use it or lose it“, and even today, according to ECPGR data (European Cooperative Programme for Plant Genetic Resources), of the 1097 edible plants (out of 391,000 known plant species), only a fraction is consumed. Thus, the obvious impoverishment of agricultural biodiversity can also be seen on our plates, which, besides irreversible genetic erosion, leads to the total absence of foodstuffs for healthy and diversified diets.
Agricultural biodiversity is present both in the natural ecosystem in situ (in the progenitors of cultivated plants, the so-called Crop Wild Relatives) and within 1750 (ex-situ) seed banks around the world. But besides the ex-situ approach, which mainly ensures their static preservation within the banks, the only way to effectively maintain this heritage is through open field (on-farm) cultivation.
Briefly: the more agricultural biodiversity is cultivated, the greater the possibility of ensuring food security!
This requires a combination of different conservation approaches and uses (in situ, ex-situ, on-farm) and that everyone, from producers to consumers, becomes an active part of this agrobiodiversity recovery process.
The main objective of the European Horizon 2020 project “DYNAVERSITY” (www.dynaversity.eu) was to facilitate dialogue and the exchange of knowledge and practices between the various parties involved in the conservation of agricultural biodiversity.
The most innovative aspect of the many activities was to study the social factor in agricultural biodiversity management. Until then, this theme had remained mainly within the scientific community, with little involvement of social actors. On the other hand, DYNAVERSITY wanted to involve farmers, seed savers, NGOs, gardeners, hobbyists and citizens in the debate, combining scientific research with social involvement, a necessary component for promoting change not only on paper but in the field. To ensure this process, DYNAVERSITY involved two teams of sociologists.
In almost four years, many activities and dissemination materials have been produced, including a glossary, ten video animations, three manuals on the management of the Community Seed Banks, the photo exhibition and countless moments of exchange of practices, knowledge and seeds between farmers, citizens and stakeholders.
Building the European network Let’s Liberate Diversity!
The project enabled the European Coordination Let’s Liberate Diversity! (EC-LLD) for the first time to have a paid Secretariat to follow all animation, facilitation and networking activities. The voluntary work of the members covered the Secretariat and coordination activities until then.
Within this framework, EC-LLD has mapped all the social players and communities that, at the European level, use and reproduce old varieties, local varieties or populations. During the four years of the project, some 56 organisations dealing with agricultural biodiversity were mapped in over 32 countries (including Eastern Europe). From the map below, it is possible to see the path of Let’s Liberate Diversity! over time, its current members and other identified entities that will be involved in the coming months. These are all networks of networks or organisations with single members, ranging from 100 to 7000 people in the best-structured associations!
Thanks to the Let’s Liberate Diversity! meetings, some organisations were invited to participate in DYNAVERSITY activities to bring these actors together. During this process, some asked to join EC-LLD, and this led to an increase in the number of members (from 12 to 16) and the coverage of 12 countries in the European region: besides the Central European area, many Scandinavian and Eastern European countries were involved, reaching a wider pool than the founding members of EC-LLD.
Becoming a full member of the network is the culmination of a social journey of trust and recognition of the importance of the work done to safeguard and use agrobiodiversity on-farm.
The history of Let’s Liberate Diversity!
EC-LLD, is an NGO with its registered office in Belgium and operations in Italy and was born out of the annual meetings of the European movement on agricultural biodiversity known as Let’s Liberate Diversity!
Since 2005, there have been ten annual meetings promoted by EC-LLD and hosted in different European countries. These events aimed to develop the theme of agricultural diversity by linking the work and experiences of the actors involved and encouraging the horizontal dissemination of knowledge and know-how. In parallel, EC-LLD organises the Let’s Cultivate Diversity! (LCD), an exchange of knowledge specially designed for farmers, processors and professionals in the sector who, on farms and therefore “in the field“, have the opportunity to discuss the theme of agrobiodiversity in all its practical and theoretical aspects.
EC-LLD organises monthly multilingual webinars called “Seed Policy Dialogue“, whose opening theme is the newsletter written by Fulya Batur, an expert on seed policy. In these webinars, the different political, legal and technical issues about seeds and biodiversity are addressed, such as the new reform of the European seed law, new genome editing techniques, the Farm2Fork strategy, the Biodiversity 2030 target.
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