CHEC at the Malta Commonwealth Conference – Day One

CHEC enjoyed a profitable and successful day first day in Malta, involving everything from a mad dash across the island for a traditional honey tasting to discussions on how to best incorporate tradition into environmental teaching – with even time for a selfie in between!

The day started with a panel discussion at the Youth Forum on “Protection of Natural Resources: Balancing Production and Consumption Patterns with Sustainable Development”. CHEC was well represented on the panel with Governing Board members Nicholas Watts and Jane Samuels both invited to contribute. Nicholas spoke about the blue economy while Jane was invited in her capacity as the Chair of the CHEC Bee and Pollinators Steering Group. Both talks were exceptionally well received with one audience members from Uganda thanking Jane for educating him about the economic and social benefit of bees. He told a story about how in his country many young people gather round fires in the evening and how this time could be spent more productively on something like bee-keeping – a goal he thought was feasible. It was extremely encouraging to see the cross-cultural response this generated.

CHEC panel

Also on the panel was Karuna Rana, who is the co-founder and Executive Director of the SIDS Youth Aims Hub. She spoke fantastically about the work they do in small-island states to improve relationships and understanding between young people and the ocean. Not many Mauritian youth swim, so her organisation teaches children so that they are aware of sea life. She also encouraged the audience to eat less read meat as ‘the meat industry produces more greenhouse gases than the transport industry’. I took the opportunity to ask her about how to balance traditional cooking – especially that which is red meat heavy – with environmental concerns. While Karuna admitted it is a difficult task she said that it is about modernising tradition, not changing it.

jane and andre

Following the morning conference Jane and Andre Lombard headed off the other side of the island to attend a bee event hosted by Friends of the Earth Malta. Bees will form a major part of the work CHEC are doing in Malta to increase awareness of the decline in numbers of pollinators. Malta is the perfect place to launch this campaign – the name of the islands come from the Greek word for honey and it has a unique type of honey bee. Delegates were taught ways of honey making over generations – from traditional clay pots, to the more modern machines used today. There was even time for a spot of honey-tasting. 2 types were offered, a thyme honey and a wild-flower honey, both of which were delicious!

Traditional honey making equipment
Traditional honey making equipment

It’s not just honey which will be off the table if bee numbers continue to decline. 70% of the world’s 124 main crops rely on pollination by bees and the value of their services are estimated to be 200 million pounds in the UK alone. For more information come along to our event on Tuesday, hosted with Friends of the Earth.

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