European Food Summit - Biodiversity - what causes its decline and why this is a problem

Biodiversity - what causes its decline and why this is a problem

8. 3. 2023

Biodiversity is a complex concept that describes the abundance and diversity of species in nature. It is a key indicator of the health of ecosystems and ensures that nature can function in balance.

It is crucial to understand that the diversity of all life forms on Earth is of fundamental importance. If biodiversity is lost, our future on Earth is threatened.

Biodiversity provides us with food, fresh water and clean air and plays an important role in maintaining the balance of nature. It contributes to the fight against climate change and prevents the spread of infectious diseases.

The decline in biodiversity is causing a decline in healthy ecosystems, which is problematic. The decline in the number of species and genetic diversity in an ecosystem is a daily reality for experts and researchers. In a 2019 UN report, scientists wrote that one million species, out of an estimated eight million, are at risk of extinction in the next decade.

The causes of biodiversity loss are complex and closely intertwined. Deforestation and urbanization have destroyed many natural habitats, climate change, overexploitation of food resources (e.g. overfishing), pollution and the cultivation of invasive plant species in non-native environments are just some of the factors that are reinforcing each other and are causing biodiversity to decline even faster.

Biodiversity loss is closely linked to food production.

Much of our food comes from a small number of crops and livestock species, making our food systems more vulnerable. It is estimated that there are between 60,000 and 70,000 edible plants growing on planet Earth. But only around 200 make a significant contribution to our food supply. And most of the calories we consume come from just three basic crops: maize, rice and wheat.

The loss of pollinators such as bees and butterflies can have serious consequences for food production. Biodiversity also provides a variety of food and other resources that can supplement diets, especially in rural and indigenous communities. The loss of these resources can have serious impacts on food security, nutrition and cultural practices.

The loss of biodiversity is also causing changes in ecosystem functioning. For example, deforestation can cause soil erosion, reduce soil fertility and make it more difficult to grow crops.

What can we do to conserve biodiversity?

Key steps have already been taken. At the end of 2022, the 15th United Nations Conference on Biodiversity agreed on making radical changes to halt biodiversity loss, which is also strongly linked to the climate change crisis. 

But what can you do as an individual?

·       Buy locally produced food and encourage the cultivation of local and traditional crops and livestock

·       Buy Fairtrade labelled food whenever possible

·       Make sure to throw away as little food as possible

·       Reduce the consumption of meat and dairy products in your daily menus

·       Diversify your diet by using a variety of cereals and vegetables

·       Try to reduce your carbon footprint

·       Educate yourself about the importance of biodiversity and raise awareness


By taking small steps, each one of us can make a significant impact on a more secure and sustainable food supply and take care for a better future.