In 2015, CHEC UK began working with Friends of the Earth (FoE) to examine the feasibility of extending FoE’s work on protecting bee and pollinator populations in the UK across the Commonwealth. To this end, the 2016 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting saw CHEC and FoE jointly launch a collaborative report ‘Bees and Pollinators: A Commonwealth Concern’ at the Institute of Tourism Studies in Valetta, Malta. Read more about the launch here.
FoE argue that populations of bees and other pollinators – essential for over 70 per cent of the 100 most globally traded crops humans eat and use, such as cotton – are in great peril. The loss of bee habitats along with the effects of pests, diseases, and a changing climate may all be contributing to global bee losses. Scientific research has also shown that the use of pesticides can contaminate farmland, household gardens and vegetable plots, harming all pollinators (See: http://www.foe.org/beeaction#sthash.MEIcgsgb.dpuf).
In the UK, FoE has made great strides in furthering The Bee Cause. A key step has been to raise awareness at the grass roots with communities firstly by participation in activities. In June 2013 FoE held the first ever UK national Bee Summit with the aim to discuss the creation of the UK’s first National Pollinator Strategy. Key to its success has been the building of partnerships between NGOs, businesses, local community groups, academics, politicians of all parties, local and national government agencies. Finally, in November 2014 the UK Government launched its first National Pollinator Strategy (NPS) which now commits to taking action to improve the state of bees and other pollinating insects in the UK and to increase national understanding of current populations and what needs to be done to address the causes of decline.
Some lessons from the UK initiatives have already been discussed with FoE Commonwealth contacts in Canada, Australia, Cyprus and Malta. With the UK NPS due to report its first year’s progress in autumn 2015, we believe 2016 presents the opportunity to galvanise debate, exploration and action by bringing people together to apply lessons such as those initiated in the UK. There is great potential to expand this interaction through CHEC’s network and the range of concern within the Commonwealth.
CHEC is currently welcoming interest from interested NGOs and civil society organisations based in Commonwealth countries. CHEC’s overall goal is to promote Commonwealth-wide action to help increase pollinators. Please find and read our joint report with Friends of the Earth on Bees and Pollinators: A Commonwealth Concern below.
Steering Committee Members
Jane Samuels: Chair – CHEC Bee Steering Group, CHEC Governing Board
Paul de Zylva: Head of Nature – Friends of the Earth
Caryll Stephen: CHEC Chairman and Chief Executive of the Foundation for Water Research (FWR)
Dr Katherine Baldock: NERC-funded Knowledge Exchange Fellow based in the School of Biological Sciences and the Cabot Institute, University of Bristol
Dr Ian Douglas: CHEC Governing Board, past Chair of CHEC Emeritus Professor School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester