11 January 2014


At its second meeting in Antalya, Turkey, the recently established UN Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES)  agreed to develop a set of assessments on pollination and food production, land degradation and invasive species aimed at providing policymakers with the tools to tackle pressing environmental challenges.

IPBES was established to assist governments and the public to better understand the trends and challenges facing the natural world and humanity in the 21st century, and thus promote human wellbeing and sustainable development through the sustainable use of biodiversity.

The first assessment, to be available as early as December 2015, will look at pollination and food production. Studies show that some three quarters of the world's crops depend on pollination by bees and other pollinators for optimum production.

In recent years there has been growing concern at the alarming decline in the bee population all around the world. Ten million beehives have disappeared in the US alone in the past six years!

A 2011 UN Environment Program (UNEP) report suggested more than a dozen possible reasons for the decline including new types of fungal pathogens, a drastic decline in the number of flowering plant species, the increased use of agricultural chemicals, and climate change.

However, more information is needed in order to fully understand how pollination underpins food production and assess the effectiveness of current policies

Whatever the cause, and apart from the impact on world food production, many believe that the decline of the honey bee is an alarm bell alerting our attention to problems in our wider environment and the unsustainable nature of our food and farming systems.

In the meantime on 20th December, the United Nations General Assembly also agreed to designate the 3rd March, as World Wildlife Day, to celebrate and raise awareness of the world's wild fauna and flora.

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