Bioversity is the world’s largest international research organization dedicated solely to the conservation and use of biodiversity. It is non-profit, non-religious and independently operated.

Our research

Reasearch into the conservation and use of biodiversity is important for everyone. The more plant and animal genetic diversity we conserve, the more opportunities there are for innovation and growth in agricultural production and the more options we have to cope with climate change and new pests and diseases. Biodiversity makes our environment more fertile, our meals more nutritious and delicious, our lives more vibrant.

[imgul:picture4.png:]Biodiversity is available to communities even in the most impoverished areas of the world, indeed some of the world’s poorest countries are among the richest in biodiversity. Promoting research that can protect this biodiversity and harness it to fuel community development in ways that respect local traditions and the environment is what Bioversity is all about.

Bioversity is committed to research that can help foster sustainable development; research that can help people living in poverty secure dignified and sustainable livelihoods through food and agricultural production, research that can help raise nutrition levels in areas where hunger is widespread, research that can help keep communities and the environment healthy. Our area of expertise is biodiversity, but it is benefiting people, especially the people of the developing world, that is at the centre of our work.

Our vision

Our work is motivated by a vision in which people today and in the future enjoy greater well-being through increased incomes, sustainably improved food security and nutrition, and greater environmental health, made possible by conservation and the deployment of agricultural biodiversity on farms and in forests.

Our mission

Bioversity undertakes, encourages and supports research and other activities on the use and conservation of agricultural biodiversity, especially genetic resources, to create more productive, resilient and sustainable harvests. Our aim is to promote the greater well-being of people, particularly poor people in developing countries, by helping them to achieve food security, to improve their health and nutrition, to boost their incomes, and to conserve the natural resources on which they depend. Bioversity works with a global range of partners to maximize impact, to develop capacity and to ensure that all stakeholders have an effective voice.

Our focus areas

The purpose of Bioversity ‘s work is to ensure that individuals and institutions are able to make optimal use of agricultural biodiversity to meet current and future development needs of people and societies. To achieve this purpose, Bioversity concentrates on six focus areas:

  • developing and implementing strategies for global collaboration to conserve and use genetic resources for food and agriculture that focus on policies, genetic resources information systems and awareness raising;
  • monitoring the status and trends of useful diversity, including locating diversity in situ and genetic erosion;
  • enhancing the ex situ conservation and use of diversity of useful species;
  • conservation and sustainable use of important wild species;
  • managing agricultural biodiversity for better nutrition, improved livelihoods and sustainable production systems for the poor; and
  • conserving and promoting the use of diversity of selected high value crops for the poor


Why Biodiversity Matters

What is biological diversity?

Biological diversity is the variety of life on Earth, from the simplest bacterial gene to the vast, complex rainforests of the Amazon.

Biological diversity exists at three main levels:

  • the combinations of species that make up different ecosystems,
  • the number of different species and
  • the different combinations of genes in species.

Genetic diversity provides species with the ability to adapt to their environment and evolve. Evolution, and therefore our survival, depends on it.

What is agricultural biodiversity?

Agricultural biodiversity includes all components of biological diversity of relevance to food and agriculture.

Agricultural biodiversity includes:

  • crop plants, wild plants harvested and managed for food, trees on farms and pasture and rangeland species;
  • domesticated animals, wild animals hunted for food and other uses and wild and farmed fish;
  • useful animals, insects and macro-organisms that act as pollinators or rejuvenate the soil, as well as agricultural pests; and
  • soil micro-organisms, such as rhizobia, fungi and disease-causing pathogens.

Agricultural biodiversity is not just a result of natural selection, it is the result of thousands of years of human activity. It has been created through the careful selection of useful traits by farmers, plant breeders and researchers.

What are genetic resources?

Genetic resources are the genetic material of plants, animals and other organisms that contains characteristics of actual or potential value. A resource is something that is used.

Genetic resources are disappearing at unprecedented rates. More than 15 million hectares of tropical forest are lost each year and experts estimate that as much as 8 percent of all plant species could disappear in the next 25 years. Over the past 50 years, new uniform crop varieties have replaced many thousands of local varieties over huge areas of production.

Currently more than 20 percent of the breeds documented with population figures are at risk of extinction. During the last five years 60 breeds were lost—an average of one breed per month. Many others have yet to be formally identified and may disappear before anything is known about them.

Biodiversity matters to the hungry and malnourished

Currently, there are well over 800 million people who do not have enough to eat. What’s more, population growth is not expected to level out until the 9 billion mark is reached. To end hunger and provide enough food to meet the global demand, FAO estimates that agricultural production must increase by more than 75 percent in the next 50 years.

Harnessing biodiversity will be the key. Farmers will require new varieties capable of producing under diverse conditions, without large amounts of fertilizers and other agrochemicals. The genetic diversity contained in different varieties provides farmers and professional plant breeders with options to develop, through selection and breeding, new and more productive crops, crops that are nutritious and resistant to pests and diseases.

Livestock keepers need a broad gene pool to draw upon if they are to improve the characteristics of their animals under changing conditions. Traditional breeds, suited to local conditions, survive times of drought and distress better than exotic breeds and, therefore, frequently offer poor farmers better protection against hunger.

Biodiversity matters to the impoverished

Around 1300 million people live on less than US$1 a day. Poverty affects both rural and urban areas, and is associated with a wide range of social problems, such as malnutrition, disease, violence and drug abuse.

Agriculture, forestry, livestock and fisheries can help to alleviate poverty in developing countries by providing cheaper food and raw materials, raising incomes and diversifying sources of income.

The improved use of genetic resources is essential if this scenario to be realized. Broadening both the range of species grown and animals raised and the uses made of them will be particularly important in diversifying income-earning opportunities.

Biodiversity matters to the victims of wars and natural disasters

In the aftermath of war or natural disasters, the only resources rural people have are the local varieties of plants and animals.

Even during the titanic tsunami of 26 December 2004, landraces of rice were found in coastal Tamil Nadu, India, that could survive seawater inundation. Many life-saving crops were cultivated in the past and we urgently need to rekindle this wisdom and take steps to save vanishing crops. In this way we can help to heal the wounds inflicted by natural or human-induced calamities and give local communities the tools they need to re-establish themselves.

Biodiversity is best conserved in the context of the social networks, local institutions and indigenous knowledge in which it originated. After a crisis, all of these are vital for rebuilding devastated communities.

Biodiversity matters to us all

As the world’s human population rises, environmental problems are intensifying. Climate change may bring about drastic changes in the world’s ecosystems and threatens to destabilize weather patterns, leading to an increase in the incidence of severe storms and droughts. Other widespread environmental problems include desertification, deforestation, erosion and the overuse of pesticides and other chemical inputs.

Genetic resources provide the raw material for breeding new varieties of crops and trees and new breeds of animals that can adapt to climate change. They can also provide the basis for new, more resilient and sustainable production systems that are better able to cope with such stresses as drought or overgrazing and can reduce the potential for soil erosion. Genetic solutions to the challenges posed by pests and diseases can also help reduce the use of dangerous and environmentally damaging chemicals.


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[o:9220d9644359b7f14d14248b7987ebd0:Bioversity International Costa Rica]
[o:3e4dccd387a1aeb0bfad45795040640e:Bioversity International France]
[o:1639be415bf7f793d3d6b8f26aa51bee:Bioversity International India]
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[o:01142857f16088d2ba45c4d9980066d5:Bioversity International Philippines]
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[o:3f9fbc4baa4df60016ee3aae9465862d:Bioversity International Uganda]


Bioversity International was previously known as International Plant Genetic Resources Institute (IPGRI), an international research institute with a mandate to advance the conservation and use of genetic diversity for the well-being of present and future generations. It is a Centre of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research [CGIAR].