Brdo pri Kranju, 19 May 2018 – As part of the first observance of World Bee Day, an international ministerial conference on the significance of bees and other pollinators for sustainable agriculture and food security was held today in Brdo pri Kranju. Ministers and representatives from 22 countries from all continents and representatives of international organisations discussed the situation, activities, and the required measures to protect bees in the world. In a joint political declaration they committed themselves to enhance the cooperation among countries at the international level, namely with regard to measures for protecting bees and other pollinators, raising awareness of the public, education, and exchanging good bee-keeping practices. They underlined the significance of studies and measures to prevent and control diseases and pests, while emphasising the necessity of future implementation of measures to mitigate climate change, which also affects the changing living conditions of bees.
On this occasion, Minister Dejan Židan who spearheaded the World Bee Day project, stressed how difficult the three-year journey from the idea to the declaration of World Bee Day by the United Nations had been and thanked all countries that had supported the initiative and believed in its fulfilment. “I mainly consider the declaration of World Bee Day as an obligation. We must now turn our words into actions and perform specific activities to protect bees and other pollinators, thus taking care of their survival and, consequently, our own survival,” stressed the Minister and expressed his satisfaction with the adopted political declaration of the International Conference on Bees and other Pollinators.
“This declaration proves that there is not only a political awareness of the significance of bees for humankind, but also a willingness to take action. It is the first step towards enhancing international cooperation in the field of bee protection, education, and promoting bee-keeping, and towards greater public awareness. By conserving bees, we are not just protecting the environment and biodiversity, but significantly contributing to abolishing famine and poverty around the world, mainly in developing countries. Every country should play a role in this.”
Furthermore, Minister Židan highlighted the following specific activities of Slovenia in the field of bee-keeping: “Slovenia has established a Bee-Keeping Academy. Considering the strong support for the World Bee Day project, interest in Slovenian expertise in the field of bee-keeping has also grown. Within this international school, Slovenia wishes to share its knowledge beyond its borders, thus contributing to an improvement in bee-keeping expertise and the exchange of good practices elsewhere in the world.”
Moreover, the Minister announced efforts to protect bees at the level of the European Union: “We are drafting a programme dealing with the endangerment of honeybees and other pollinators, the goal of which is to establish and maintain a suitable amount of the population of honeybees and wild pollinators. The programme will be submitted to the European Commission with the initiative to prepare suitable legal bases for carrying out measures to protect honeybees and other pollinators.”
“Bees and other pollinators improve the food production of two billion small farmers worldwide, helping to ensure food security and nutrition and maintaining a vibrant ecosystem for plants, humans and the bees themselves. They play a key role in realising the Sustainable Development Goals – without bees we cannot achieve Zero Hunger. We need to shift to a more sustainable food system and to promote pollinator-friendly practices and policies that will safeguard these valuable ecosystem services and protect biodiversity,” stated on this occasion the Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, José Graziano da Silva.
In the joint declaration, the ministers stress that bees play an important role in sustainable agricultural production and food security. They are also important for conserving the environment because their work contributes to biodiversity and a greater diversity of species and genetic diversity. Pollination is an important activity in the ecosystem, and it allows small producers and vulnerable groups, mainly women and young people, to engage in agricultural production, thus ensuring a more stable income and their easier survival. As a result, this contributes to the development of the countryside where the majority of the impoverished and famished population of the world lives. Among other things, bee-keeping creates new, green jobs and opportunities for young people and women, such as the development of bee-keeping tourism, bee products with added value, and apitherapy.
The ministers expressed their concern over the endangerment of bees and other pollinators, both from the perspective of diversity as well as their number. According to them, the main reason for this is human activity, particularly intensive agriculture and the application of some plant protection products. Bees are also affected by climate change. Climate change affects nectar-bearing plants and the loss of some honey flow, which changes the rhythm of the life of bees and their behaviour, which could slowly lead to their extinction.
In the declaration, the ministers therefore advocate the protection of the living environment of pollinators, focusing on food sources and nest sites, mainly by increasing plant diversity. They highlight the importance of raising public awareness of the significance of bees, focusing on promotional and educational campaigns intended for young people, the transfer of knowledge to bee-keepers, and the exchange of good bee-keeping practices.
They emphasise the significance of knowledge transfer and international cooperation in the field of sustainable bee-keeping and agriculture with the purpose of supporting and protecting bees and other pollinators. They especially stress the significance of studies and suitable diagnostics of bee diseases in order to determine the causes for poor development and the dying of bee colonies, and the significance of the constant training of bee-keepers concerning the measures to prevent and control diseases and pests.
In particular, the ministers advocate the future implementation of measures for mitigating climate change and adjusting bee-keeping to climate change. They specifically mentioned the promotion of sustainable agriculture and bee-keeping, the expert training of bee-keepers, adjusting bee-keeping approaches and technologies, and planting nectar-bearing plants that are more resistant to the changing climate.