SPG Update March 2023 | UPOV and UN SDGs

How does the UPOV system contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)?

The vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development includes a world where “food is sufficient, safe, affordable and nutritious”, there is “sustained and inclusive economic growth, social development, environmental protection and the eradication of poverty and hunger”, and one in “which development and the application of technology are climate-sensitive, respect biodiversity and are resilient”.

The mission of UPOV is to provide and promote an effective system of plant variety protection, with the aim of encouraging the development of new varieties of plants, for the benefit of society. The benefits that the UPOV system provides to society will be significant in realising the vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

UPOV’s mission is to provide and promote an effective system of plant variety protection, with the aim of encouraging the development of new varieties of plants, for the benefit of society. In particular, new varieties of plants are:

  • An important means of responding to the challenges of a growing and increasingly urbanised population.
  • Climate change.
  • Parallel demands for food and energy production and evolving human needs.

The tremendous progress in agricultural productivity in various parts of the world is primarily based on improved varieties and farming practices, and future food security depends on them. There is also a need to further increase food production in the years leading up to 2030.

The world’s population continues to grow, and urbanisation continues; therefore, the requirement for increased productivity in sustainable agricultural production will continue for the foreseeable future. New varieties of plants with features such as improved yield, resistance to plant pests and diseases, salt and drought tolerance, or better adaptation to climatic stress are vital in increasing productivity and product quality in agriculture, horticulture and forestry, minimising the pressure on the natural environment. Due to the continuous evolution of new pests and diseases, as well as changes in climatic conditions and users’ needs, there is a constant demand by farmers/growers for new plant varieties and development by breeders of such new plant varieties.

Diversity of breeders and breeding is needed to develop new varieties that can respond to a wide range of challenges. The UPOV plant variety protection system provides an effective mechanism for breeders in both the public and private sectors and facilitates public-private partnerships. It is a system that is equally relevant for individual breeders, SMEs and larger breeding institutes/enterprises. Plant variety protection supports long-term investment in breeding and provides a framework for investment in the delivery of seed and other propagating material of varieties suited to farmers’ needs.

The UPOV system encourages the development of new varieties of plants, therefore adding to the diversity. The “breeder’s exemption” in the UPOV Convention enables plant diversity to be available for further breeding activities because acts done for the purpose of breeding other varieties are not subject to any restriction by the breeder. This access to protected varieties contributes to sustaining the greatest progress in plant breeding and, thereby, maximising the use of genetic resources for the benefit of society.

The UPOV Report on the Impact of Plant Variety Protection (Impact Study) notes that membership of UPOV provides crucial technical assistance and facilitates cooperation opportunities, enabling Plant Variety Protection to be extended to the most comprehensive range of plant genera and species efficiently, thereby allowing maximising benefits.

The UPOV system has particular relevance concerning the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):

Goal 1 NO POVERTY – End poverty in all its forms everywhere.

Goal 2 ZERO HUNGER – End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.

Goal 9 INDUSTRY, INNOVATION AND INFRASTRUCTURE – Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation

Goal 12 RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION – Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns

Goal 15 LIFE ON LAND – Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt land degradation and biodiversity loss.

Goal 17 PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS – Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development: Systemic issues: Multi-stakeholder partnerships.

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