FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said the agricultural sector can make significant contributions to protecting biodiversity.
He called for “transformative” changes in food production at an international dialogue on the topic last week.
The event brought together experts from agriculture, forestry, fisheries and the environment to develop approaches for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity while increasing production to meet growing demand for food.
Working groups looked at national policies and legislation; financial incentives and investments and supply chain measures.
Graziano da Silva said planetary biodiversity faces a number of threats with food production being a “big part of the problem”.
The FAO Director-General added food is produced mainly based on 50-year-old principles, often using environmentally unfriendly chemicals with the loss of agricultural biodiversity posing a risk to food security.
“Only three staple crops - rice, maize and wheat - and three animal species - cattle, pigs and chicken - provide the majority of food energy intake in the world,” he said.
Diversifying sources could help ensure food security; such as genetically diverse plants more tolerant to hotter and drier conditions and more diverse livestock to allow farmers to breed animals that could adapt to changing environmental conditions.
“This is especially important nowadays in the face of emerging challenges such as the impacts of climate change, rapid urbanization and also a growing population with changing diets,” said Graziano da Silva.