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GLOBALG.A.P. panel discussion spotlighted responsible farming for biodiversity preservation

Industry experts shared their candid perspectives in an engaging conversation on achieving biodiversity in today’s food systems.


Panellists at the panel organized by GLOBALG.A.P.

The GLOBALG.A.P. Secretariat saw encouraging participation at a live panel discussion titled “Be Part of the Plan: How can responsible and resilient farming practices promote and protect biodiversity?”, held in celebration of the United Nations International Day of Biological Diversity on May 24, 2024.

The discussion featured the participation of stakeholders from diverse segments of the industry, including Marion Hammerl, President of the Global Nature Fund (an NGO), Philipp Wagnitz, Director of Quality and Sustainability at the retailer Lidl International, and Nyiko Mutileni, Environmental Scientist at ZZ2, a South African producer. The discussion was moderated by Senior Technical Expert Rene Capote of GLOBALG.A.P.

Biodiversity protection starts at the farm level

The panellists discussed strategies for moving theoretical goals of biodiversity protection toward meaningful achievements at the farm level. “It’s not as easy as we sometimes say in these kinds of discussions,” admitted Wagnitz. “I think the farmer knows best about biodiversity. They work the land, and they understand the issue very locally, and I think that biodiversity is a very local topic. The know-how is in the field, not the board room.”

From a producer’s perspective, Mutileni agreed that it all starts at the farm. “We see ourselves as custodians of the land,” she explained. “Agricultural success is dependent on the ecosystem services we draw from our landscapes.” 

Democratic support needed from other stakeholders and from smallholder cooperatives

However, in celebration of the United Nations International Day of Biological Diversity, Nyiko Mutileni went on to stress that achieving biodiversity protection and remediation is a team effort and should involve everyone in the supply chain, not just farms. “When we come to rehabilitation, everyone should be involved; we should invest toward assisting farmers towards that rehabilitation.”

Hammerl, representing the Global Nature Fund, reiterated this sentiment. “We cannot leave the farmers alone with the big task of protecting biodiversity,” she emphasized. “They need support. And one of the supporters should be the food sector.” In answer to a question from a panel listener regarding the additional burden that biodiversity certification would pose to smallholders, Hammerl went on to explain that the landscape approach is very important in regions comprised of many smallholder farms. Implementing a biodiversity plan at the cooperative level would help to lessen the certification burden for individual smallholders and, from an ecosystem standpoint, would provide more effective biodiversity protection.

Democratic processes take time to make an impact

Both Hammerl and Wagnitz agreed that more needs to be done at the governmental level as well. “We are also working on pushing the political decisionmakers,” said Hammerl. “Now in Europe we’ve started to support our biodiversity strategy with some legislation, which was not happening in the past. I think this is a reason why we failed in the past to achieve the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity.” As with any democratic process involving multiple stakeholders with diverse interests, biodiversity protection will not be achieved immediately and will only be advanced by taking one small step at a time. The panellists, while recognizing the economic and political obstacles to promoting biodiversity, expressed optimism that true change is happening and can still be achieved.

This same democratic process to achieve change drives the relevance of GLOBALG.A.P.’s voluntary certification schemes at the global level. Capote mentioned GLOBALG.A.P.’s working project on a new Environmental Sustainability Solution being developed with a broad approach; in addition to biodiversity, it will include other elements like water, greenhouse gasses, and soil health. He mentioned that the GLOBALG.A.P. Secretariat will be opening a public consultation period for this new solution that will run from 29 May through 5 July and will be accessible via an online portal. The new solution will forward GLOBALG.A.P.’s mission to foster the global adoption of responsible farming practices by providing industry-leading, cost-effective, and value-adding assurance and benchmarking solutions.

Industry stakeholders are invited and encouraged to contribute their perspectives during this democratic public consultation period for the new Environmental Sustainability Solution.


GLOBALG.A.P. is a brand of smart farm assurance solutions developed by FoodPLUS GmbH in Cologne, Germany, with cooperation from producers, retailers, and other stakeholders across the food industry. These solutions include a range of standards for safe, socially and environmentally responsible farming practices. The most widely used GLOBALG.A.P. standard is IFA, applicable to fruit and vegetables, aquaculture, floriculture, and more. This standard also forms the basis for the GGN label – the consumer label for certified, responsible farming and transparency. The GLOBALG.A.P. brand began its journey as EUREPGAP in 1997. Now, over twenty-five years later, more than 200,000 producers are under GLOBALG.A.P. certification in 132 countries. Nearly 150 team members around the world are dedicated to the mission of spreading responsible farming practices to ensure safe food for future generations.

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