World Bee Day: How does it Relate to the SDGs and the social value movement?

The following blog was written by Social Value International’s Membership and Networks Manager, Becca Harvey.

On 20th May 2021, World Bee Day will be celebrated, shortly followed by the International Day for Biodiversity on 22nd May 2021. You might be thinking, what does World Bee Day or Biodiversity have to do with Social Value International and the social value movement – well the answer is everything! Our very mission is to change the way the world accounts value because in order to tackle inequality, protect the environment and improve wellbeing for all, decisions must be made using a broader sense of value that centralises people and the planet. 

“Biodiversity is the food we eat, the water we drink, and it is also the air we breathe. More than that, biodiversity is part of us, as we humans are part of nature,” said Dr. Cristiana Paşca-Palmer, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). “The truth is that without healthy nature and biodiversity, we cannot have quality nutrition, and without quality nutrition we cannot have good health – as simple as that.”

It has been well documented that bees, other pollinators and healthy biodiversity has profound impacts on humans – through access to healthy and nutritious food, food security, health, agricultural livelihoods, medicine and reduction of poverty. Yet despite the vital role bees and other pollinators play, there is a growing pollinator crisis that threatens global and local food security, will worsen the problems of hidden hunger, erode ecosystem resilience, and destabilise ecosystems that form our life support system. In recognising the scale and dimensions of the pollination crisis and its links to biodiversity and human livelihoods, the Convention on Biological Diversity has made the conservation and sustainable use of pollinators a key priority.

Globally pollinators play a key role in human survival with 87% of  the major food crops depending on animal pollination. Together these account for 35% of the world food production volume . But beyond just the immediate threat to food security and health, pollinators play an essential role in helping to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Not only do pollinators feed a rising world population in a sustainable way [SDG 2], they help maintain biodiversity and a vibrant ecosystem [SDG 15]. They also contribute to building resilient livelihoods and create new jobs, satisfying the growing demand for healthy, nutritious food as well as non-food products [SDGs 1 and 9]. Already the highest agricultural contributor to yields worldwide, pollination has the potential to increase yield by a quarter [SDG 8].

Yet just as pollinators play a vital role in feeding our global population, improving health and protecting livelihoods, declines in the number of pollinators can be related to pest and disease outbreaks, higher levels of malnutrition and non-communicable diseases which provoke health issues for populations around the world [SDGs 3 and 13].

Over the last 18 months, the COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the need for the global community to re-examine our relationship to the natural world. The pandemic, and its impact on us all, showed that despite all our technological advances, we are completely dependent on healthy and vibrant ecosystems for our health, water, food, medicines, clothes, fuel, shelter and energy. 

Looking forward to 2030, the achievement (or not) of the SDGs and beyond, it is clear that “The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century” (Achim Steiner, Director of UNEP, UNEP 2011). Therefore, for the very achievement of our vision of a sustainable future where people and planet are protected and valued, it is vital that we – as a movement for change and as individuals – care about the bees (and all other pollinators too!).

This year, the Biodiversity Day 2021 slogan is “We’re part of the solution” – and for the social value movement this rings true. Our movement and our mission plays a key role in challenging and changing the way decisions are being made, to ensure that people and the planet are respected and protected. By broadening our definition of value and looking beyond just short-term financial return, we are able to centralise people and the planet in all decision making, which ultimately will lead to the protection of the environment, the reduction of inequalities and improved wellbeing for all. 

As a movement, and as individuals, we must continue to fight for the protection of the environment, biodiversity and the pollinators that sustain it all. Not only does the achievement of the SDGs depend on it, but so does the security of our global community. From nature-based solutions to climate, health issues, food and water security, and sustainable livelihoods, biodiversity is the foundation upon which we can build back better.

To help us do more, the United Nations, as part of the observance of Bee Day 2021 have produced a list of ways we can all help:

Individually by: 

  • Planting a diverse set of native plants, which flower at different times of the year;
  • Buying raw honey from local farmers;
  • Buying products from sustainable agricultural practices;
  • Avoiding pesticides, fungicides or herbicides in our gardens;
  • Protecting wild bee colonies when possible;
  • Sponsoring a hive;
  • Making a bee water fountain by leaving a water bowl outside;
  • Helping sustaining forest ecosystems;
  • Raising awareness around us by sharing this information within our communities and networks; the decline of bees affects us all!

As governments and decision-makers by:

  • Strengthening the participation of local communities in decision-making, in particular that of indigenous people, who know and respect ecosystems and biodiversity;
  • Enforcing strategic measures, including monetary incentives to help change;
  • Increasing collaboration between national and international organisations, organisations and academic and research networks to monitor and evaluate pollination services.

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