CHEC at the Malta Commonwealth Conference – Day Three

The big day finally arrived! After many months of planning, hard-work and late-nights, the CHEC ‘Bees and Pollinators: A Commonwealth Concern’ report was ready to be launched. We have worked closely with Friends of the Earth to produce the report and a social-media campaign to reverse the decline of pollinators across the Commonwealth.

The audience for the reports' launch
The audience for the report’s launch

Around 100 people attended the launch – from ordinary citizens interested in how they can help bees, to representatives of the governments of Canada and Malta. It was particularly heartening to see the number of young people who felt inspired to attend the event. The mark of a successful event is always how many people feel engaged enough to ask questions. Needless to say there were more questions than the panelists had time to field.

The panel (l-r) Jane Samuels, Clive Harridge, Peppi Gauci, Dr Mario Balzan
The panel (l-r) Jane Samuels, Clive Harridge, Peppi Gauci, Dr Mario Balzan

CHEC’s Jane Samuels was joined on the panel by Clive Harridge, the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Association of Planners, Paul De Zylva, Head of Nature at Friends of the Earth UK, Dr Mario Balzan, an eco-systems researcher at the Malta Institute of Applied Science and Peppi Gauci, the Chairman of the Maltese Permaculture Research Foundation.

The session was full of stark facts about how vital bees are for human ecology and how at risk they are. In 2005 pollinators were worth 164 billion dollars to the global economy. They pollinate 87% of the crops we consume. Yet we have lost 20 species of bee since 1900 in the UK and 35 further species are currently under threat of extinction. As Mr De Zylva said – “we have to be the generation that saves the bee”.

It was particularly interesting to hear the thoughts of Mr Harridge on how bees fit into urban planning. He felt the biggest risk to bees was the threat to urban agriculture from the current trends of rural-city migration. It is vital to protect urban agriculture by implementing planning controls to protect these areas from development. He was also keen to link bees into the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Jane Samuels and Clive Harridge
Jane Samuels and Clive Harridge

Dr Balzan also reminded the audience that bees are vital for food security: “you can have the pasta, but you can’t have the pasta sauce”. He also spoke about the moral obligation to save pollinators as well as their contribution to Maltese cultural identity.

Peppi Gauci told of how nature will respond almost instantly to any efforts that we make – he described his own astonishment at seeing how quickly bees and pollinators respond to the newly planted habitats he created.

After the event there was a chance for the audience to network with each other, taste local honey and ask further questions of the panellists.

This is only the start of our campaign to save bees and pollinators! Stay tuned to the website for further updates.

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For a more in-depth look at our bee event click here

To read our report on ‘Bees and Pollinators: A Commonwealth Concern’ click here: Malta report.

To read the Times of Malta report on our event click here

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