First International Forum for Action on Sustainable Beekeeping and Pollination gives new impetus to international cooperation on pollinator protection

Ljubljana/Slovenia – The first International Forum for Action on Sustainable Beekeeping and Pollination, a collaboration between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Government of Slovenia, opened today in Ljubljana. In the wake of the World Bee Day 2024 celebrations, the forum aims to enhance the exchange of knowledge and experience on the protection of bees and pollinators, providing a platform for dialogue and reflection.

“This gathering shows that we can act locally, for global impact,” FAO Director-General QU Dongyu said in his opening remarks at the Forum”. “Together, we are part of a collective commitment to safeguard the vital role of bees and other pollinators to our agrifood systems, he added.

Participants at the forum included Ervin Kosi, State Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food of the Republic of Slovenia, and the president of APIMONDIA, the International Federation of Beekeepers’ Associations, Jeff Pettis, among others.

While global in scope, each edition of the forum will have a geographic focus. This year’s meeting was organized in conjunction with the Africa Day International Conference, an international conference organized annually by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia with the aim of strengthening bilateral ties between Slovenia and African countries.

The forum consisted of technical panels, with discussions covering partnerships and financing, youth and gender inclusion, technological innovations, and ecosystem services associated with bees and beekeeping. “Your exchanges will give new impetus to international collaboration in the field of beekeeping and pollinators’ protection, and to help meet rapidly changing needs, particularly in Africa,” the FAO Director-General said.

Qu then recalled how young people were the leading protagonists of World Bee Day 2024. “Youth are the future guardians of the environment and play a key role in addressing today’s challenges for a better tomorrow,” he said. “By engaging young people in beekeeping activities, educational initiatives, and advocacy efforts, we can inspire a new generation of environmental leaders and empower them to make a positive impact on the world”.

Slovenia, pioneer of World Bee Day

For millennia, bees, among the most industrious creatures on Earth, have benefited humanity, plants, and the environment. By transporting pollen from flower to flower, bees and other pollinators enable not only the production of abundant fruits, nuts, and seeds, but also greater variety and better quality, contributing to food security and nutrition.

However, changes in land use and landscape structure, intensive farming practices, monocultures, and pesticide use have led to significant losses, fragmentation, and degradation of their habitats. Pests and diseases resulting from the reduced resistance of bee colonies and globalization, which facilitates the transmission of pests and diseases over long distances, pose a particular threat. In addition, climate change also has a negative impact. Higher temperatures, droughts, floods, other extreme weather events, and changes in flowering period hinder pollination.

The Slovenian government, recognizing the significance of these tiny creatures to the sustainability of life on Earth and the necessity to safeguard them, was the inaugural proponent of a World Bee Day initiative to the United Nations General Assembly. This proposal was subsequently endorsed by a UN resolution in 2017.

This year, the theme of World Bee Day was “Bee engaged with youth.” The focus was on young people, as investing in youth-led beekeeping initiatives accelerates innovation, creativity, and technological advancement that can help address the emerging challenges facing small pollinators, including rising temperatures, the use of pesticides in agriculture, and the spread of pests.

Beekeeping is an activity that extends beyond the mere production of honey and contributes to the achievement of numerous Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Given that it can be practiced with limited resources and locally available materials, beekeeping represents a source of income for those living in extreme poverty, thereby enhancing the resilience and livelihoods of rural and indigenous communities.

FAO has a long-standing commitment to promoting policies that support biological control of plant pests and limit pesticide use. This is achieved through the Global Action on Pollination Services for Sustainable Agriculture initiative, which has the goal of building greater habitat diversity in agricultural and urban environments.

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