The Sustainable Use of Pollinators

Article based on the interview with Ms. Monica Kobayashi, Consultant at the Programme of Work on Agricultural Biodiversity of the Convention on Biological Diversity

On March 7, the members of the Regions for Biodiversity Learning Platform hosted a webinar on the Sustainable Use of Pollinators that gathered experts from the member regions, scientist and experts from the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), such as Mr. Erie Tamale and Ms. Monica Kobayashi, who agreed to share with us some of her views on one of the most beautiful phenomenon to life on earth: pollination, and the role subnational governments play in its protection.

Photo by Gabriela Rizzo, Sao Paulo State’s Secretariat for the Environment

According to Ms. Kobayashi’s intervention, it was in the mid-1990s, when scientists and agriculturists around the world became concerned by a decline in pollinator diversity, and it was also when the Food and Agriculture Organization and the CBD echoed this concerns and turn them into action by establishing the International Initiative for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Pollinators.

This early steps are what now continues to drive the Convention on Biological Diversity’s efforts to safeguard pollinators by sharing scientific findings and by promoting the engagement of subnational leaders in the global dialogue, as stated by Ms. Kobayashi, expert on agricultural biodiversity at the Convention on Biological Diversity, “we are now living a pollinators momentum, people can see the direct link between pollinators, food security, agriculture, and pesticides (…) in agriculture, studies show that even self-pollinated crops, like soy bean, can benefit from animal pollination, other studies prove that there can be a 10% productivity increase in soy bean when pollinators are present”.

Global agriculture is increasingly pollinator dependent, much of this dependency comes from wild pollinators, hence it is ever more important to implement actions that safeguard pollinators and biodiversity. Regions, all over the world are being called to action to respond to biodiversity threats in their regions. According to Ms. Kobayashi, “Many national biodiversity strategies and action plans (NBSAPs) already refer to subnational governments and local authorities. (…) The CBD Secretariat stands ready to help by promoting ICLEI guidelines, R4BLP technical assistance, highlighting and supporting various initiatives of subnational governments and cities. Pollinators are a great example among many others: subnational governments are uniquely positioned to ensure environmental quality for pollinators and their habitats (…). The Parties to the CBD already acknowledge the crucial role of subnational governments, and it is good timing for subnational governments to take stronger actions, as nrg4SD is doing”.

During COP 13, the Parties recognized among its decisions, that it is necessary to encourage governments at all levels, stakeholders and citizens to improve the conservation and management of pollinators and to address the drivers of its decline and work towards achieving more sustainable agricultural practices. Efforts such as the R4BLP that promote learning and exchange through the presentation of successful strategies and lessons learned are a step towards that goal. As Ms. Kobayashi stated: “The R4BLP has the capacity to promote dialogue between members and partners around the world. These dialogues promoted by webinars and online meetings are important tools to share lessons learned, best practices and to update the participants. Many nature-based solutions are mostly tested and operational – what’s needed is capacity-building and technical and scientific cooperation to scale up those solutions. This platform is an excellent opportunity”.

Photo by Carolina Matos, Sao Paulo State’s Secretariat for the Environment

Based on the new scientific findings, COP 13 required the CBD to revise the implementation of the Initiative on the Sustainable Use of Pollinators and subsequently, to update its Action Plan. Currently, an updated version is being revised by the CBD, FAO and in consultation with experts around the world. The new Plan of Action 2018-2030, if agreed and adopted at COP 14, will include 4 elements: enabling policies and strategies; field-level implementation; civil society and private sector engagement and monitoring, research and assessment.

In this thorough appraisal, subnational governments have a relevant role to play, according to Ms. Kobayashi: “(…) the views from subnational governments will be taken into account individually but more so if they are the result of coordinated processes. The R4BLP can not only facilitate the communication between its members, but also express their needs to achieve common objectives. The upcoming CBD meetings, such as SBSTTA 22, SBI 2 and COP 14 with its associated summit of subnational governments and cities, are a timely opportunity to build a concrete road map to help these concepts take root in reality”.

Special thanks to Sao Paulo State’s Secretariat for the Environment for the photographs used in this article.



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