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World Bee Day: Pollination is essential for life – Melbourne

Mr Sean Melbourne, Head of Climate Change and Energy for West Africa, British High Commission, speaking on Thursday May 20, 2021 on the occasion of the World Bee Day, clamours ways to restore, support and enhance the role of pollinators because, according to him, if bees are under threat, mankind is under threat

Sean Melbourne
Sean Melbourne

I wish to thank the Federal Ministry of Environment, the Biodiversity and Ecosystems Services Network and UNDP for their hard work and engagement on saving bees, and for their efforts to protect and enhance the environment more generally over many years.

Earlier we had a national webinar that focused on promoting and delivering the Nigeria Trialogue Country Action Plan, with the overarching aim to protect and promote pollinators. There was also some discussion around the policy tools and resources developed by BESNet; and today, we are at this Schools’ Art Exhibition.

All these activities are important and commendable as we work together to find ways to restore, support and enhance the role of pollinators. Because if bees are under threat, we are all under threat. Pollination is essential for life.

Sadly, present species extinction rates are 100 to 1,000 times higher than normal due to human impacts. Close to 35% of invertebrate pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies face extinction globally according to the United Nations.

Intensive farming practices, land-use change, over-exploitation of natural resources, and the higher temperatures associated with climate change all pose problems for bee populations and, by extension, the quality of food we grow and our economies.

In November 2021, the UK will host COP26, an international conference designed to mitigate the effects of climate change. Nature will be at the heart of COP26. We will be seeking international action on climate change and biodiversity loss and emphasising the role nature-based solutions can play in that global endeavour.

We recognise the important role of nature in both adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change, and in supporting lives and livelihoods. The livelihoods of 70% of people living in poverty depend directly on the environment, its biodiversity and natural resources.

Countries around the world are therefore rightly demanding urgent action on nature. If we are to meet the Paris Agreement, we need a full-scale transition in the way we use the land and ocean.

Collectively, we must strive for a global transition towards sustainable use of the land, ocean and natural resources, tackling biodiversity and climate issues together, thereby saving important species and pollinators such as the bees from extinction.

As hosts of COP26, the UK will work closely with China, who will host The Convention on Biological Diversity, more commonly known as COP15. We will seek to reinforce and amplify the linkages between climate change and biodiversity. This will be hugely important if we are to deliver the step-change needed to tackle these global issues.

The UN Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, which His Excellency, President Buhari endorsed in September last year, will also help to cement the links between the COP15 and COP26 agendas as leaders come together to take effective measures for a healthier planet, to introduce or strengthen measures that deliver for biodiversity, for human development and wellbeing, and for our climate.

Currently, only 3% of global climate finance is spent on nature-based solutions. It’s nowhere near enough. We are seeking to address this by working closely with other donor countries to raise our contributions to sustainable finance that deliver positive co-benefits for nature and adaptation to climate change.

We will also continue to work closely with countries such as Nigeria to support mechanisms that will scale up investment in nature and nature-based solutions, as well as to develop a pipeline of high-quality projects that suit national circumstances and priorities.

The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic will be felt deeply for more years, but the experience has also led many people to appreciate the difference that nature makes to our lives in a new way. There is increased awareness of the link between our own health, and that of the planet. Studies across the spectrum, from health to financial risk, remind us that it is in our best interests to look after nature.

We need to build back better and greener from the pandemic. We need to prioritise environmental regeneration and pollinator protection. Let us “Bee heroes” for our planet.

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