Decline, Disappearance of Bees Would Have Drastic Consequences for Global Ecosystems, Deputy Secretary-General Warns at Event Marking World Day

DSG/SM/1282-OBV/1881
20 May 2019

Decline, Disappearance of Bees Would Have Drastic Consequences for Global Ecosystems, Deputy Secretary-General Warns at Event Marking World Day

Following are UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed’s remarks for World Bee Day, observed today:

It is a pleasure to join you in celebrating World Bee Day.  Bees are among the hardest working creatures on the planet.  I would say, much like our United Nations staff we have in the field, peacekeeping and humanitarian.

It has been estimated that more than three quarters of the leading types of global food crops rely to some extent on bees and other pollinators.  Moreover, well-pollinated crops have been shown to taste better and have a higher nutrient value, a better appearance and a longer shelf life.

And beekeeping, with its manifold products ranging from honey and propolis to bee venom, provides an important source of income, especially for people in rural areas.  And that really is the key for us ending poverty and hunger.

One international study estimates that the annual global food production that depends on pollination is worth as much as half a trillion dollars.

Bees are clearly crucial for our efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.  Yet, populations of bees and other pollinators have decreased significantly.

Intensive agriculture and pesticide use are placing bees in ever greater danger.  Bees are being exposed to new diseases and pests, and of course climate change has become a major threat.

Earlier this month, an authoritative scientific report from the United Nations sounded the alarm bell about the loss of biodiversity, stating that “human actions threaten more species with global extinction now than ever before”.

The decline and disappearance of bees and wild insects would have drastic consequences for global ecosystems and human well-being.  Urgent and wide-ranging efforts are needed to protect bees across wild, agricultural and urban habitats.  The climate action summit being convened by the Secretary-General in September will aim to address the threat and spur greater ambition in general.

Our non-governmental organizations, as well as beekeepers’ associations, research organizations and academia, have a key role to play.

This observance of World Bee Day comes at an important juncture.  We aim to create a bit of a buzz around this challenge — but this is no laughing matter.  Let us work together to ensure that these hard-working creatures can thrive so that the ecosystems and humans that depend on them can do the same — today and for future generations.

For information media. Not an official record.