The International Day of Plant Health (IDPH) is celebrated on 12 May to raise global awareness of how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect biodiversity and the environment, and boost economic development.
Both our health and the health of our planet depend on plants. Plants make up 80 per cent of the food we eat and 98 per cent of the oxygen we breathe and yet they are under threat. Up to 40 per cent of food crops (FAO, 2021) are lost due to plant pests and diseases every year, damaging agriculture, exacerbating growing world hunger, threatening rural livelihoods. As plant diseases cost the global economy over $220 billion, and invasive insects at least $70 billion (FAO, 2021), protecting plants from pests and diseases is far more cost-effective than dealing with plant health emergencies.
Climate change and human activities are also altering ecosystems and damaging biodiversity while creating new niches for pests to thrive. International travel and trade, which has tripled in volume in the last decade, is also spreading pests and diseases.
In the face of these crises, we need to protect plants both for people and the planet, and all of us have a role to play.
The United Nations designated 12 May the International Day of Plant Health (IDPH) to raise global awareness on how protecting plant health can help end hunger, reduce poverty, protect biodiversity and the environment, and boost economic development. The Day is a key legacy of the International Year of Plant Health 2020, which was marked in 2020-2021.
The observance was unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly in a resolution (A/RES/76/256) co-signed by Bolivia, Finland, Pakistan, the Philippines, Tanzania and Zambia in March 2022. The resolution sets out that healthy plants constitute the foundation for all life on Earth, as well as ecosystem functions, food security and nutrition, adding that plant health is key to the sustainable development of agriculture required to feed a growing global population by 2050.
“The International Day of Plant Health will be an opportunity to highlight the crucial importance of plant health, both in itself and as part of our One Health approach, encompassing human, animal and ecosystem health. It could not be more vital to make sure that we do everything we can to maximize the food resources our planet can provide.” FAO Deputy Director-General, Beth Bechdol
The International Day of Plant Health has five specific objectives:
- Increase awareness of the importance of keeping plants healthy to achieve the UN 2030 Agenda, particularly SDG 2 (Zero Hunger).
- Campaign to minimize the risk of spreading plant pests through trade and travel, by triggering compliance with international plant health standards.
- Strengthen monitoring and early warning systems to protect plants and plant health.
- Enable sustainable pest and pesticide management to keep plants healthy while protecting the environment.
- Promote investment in plant health innovations, research, capacity development and outreach.
Role of Geneva
Geneva and its surrounding area host important international organizations working on plants, presented hereafter by alphabetical order.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)
CITES is a multilateral agreement aiming to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival. As of today, it accords varying degrees of protection to more than 37,000 species of animals and plants, whether they are traded as live specimens or objects.
Earthworm Foundation, formerly The Forest Trust, works to preserve forests and oceans, while empowering the people that care for our lands and produce our everyday needs. Their projects contribute to a world where forests are a boundless source of materials and a home for biodiversity; communities see their rights respected and have opportunities to develop; workers are seen as productive partners; and agriculture becomes the instrument to feed a hungry planet and keep our climate stable.
Fondation Franklinia is a private foundation established in 2005 under Swiss law. It provides grants to support nature conservation projects. Its objective is to preserve threatened tree species throughout the world and improve their conservation status.
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Liaison Office Geneva
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is a specialized agency of the UN with a membership of 194 Member States that leads international efforts to eradicate hunger and malnutrition and sustainable management and utilization of natural resources. Its goal is to achieve food security for all, where everyone has regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active and healthy lives. The FAO Liaison Office in Geneva (FAO Geneva), located in the historical Palais des Nations, is one of more than 130 FAO offices worldwide, working with partners to achieve this goal and the wider sustainable development agenda.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
IUCN works to build sustainable landscapes, protect primary forests and advance the rights of forest communities. Through its forest initiatives, the IUCN helps countries implement effective forest and land-use policies, achieve national priorities and meet international commitments on climate change, biodiversity and land degradation.
Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC)
The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), is a leading global alliance of national forest certification systems. As an international non-profit, non-governmental organization, PEFC is dedicated to promoting sustainable forest management through independent third-party certification.
Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
The Ramsar Convention aims to ensure the conservation and wise use of all wetlands through local and national actions and international cooperation, as a contribution toward achieving sustainable development throughout the world. Although wetlands cover only around 6 per cent of the Earth’s surface, they provide vital habitats for 40 per cent of the world’s species.
United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)
In 1996, UNCTAD launched the BioTrade Initiative to support the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity. BioTrade refers to those activities of collection, production, transformation, and commercialization of goods and services derived from native biodiversity under the criteria of environmental, social and economic sustainability. This includes activities relying on forests and supporting the livelihoods of the people living in or adjacent to forests.
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Office in Geneva
The UNDP Climate and Forests Team supports countries with the design and implementation of national policies and measures to reduce deforestation and manage forests sustainably, hence contributing to the mitigation of climate change and advancing sustainable development. The global team has advisors in various duty stations, including Geneva.
The Central African Forest Initiative (CAFI) Secretariat, hosted by UNDP Office in Geneva, is an initiative and fund to support the implementation of strategic reforms and multi-sectoral investments for the sustainable management of forests and REDD+ results in the Central African region. CAFI, as a collaborative partnership, gathers 6 Central African countries with high forest cover (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon), a coalition of donors (EU, France, Germany, Norway, UK, the Netherlands and South Korea) and a South-South partner (Brazil).
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
The joint UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section supports developing evidence-based policies for sustainable forest management and communicates about the many products and ecosystem services provided to society while assisting countries of the region to monitor and manage forests.
United Nations Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN-REDD)
The UN-REDD Programme was launched in 2008 and builds on the convening role and technical expertise of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The Programme supports nationally led REDD+ processes and promotes the informed and meaningful involvement of all stakeholders, including indigenous peoples and other forest-dependent communities, in national and international REDD+ implementation. Additionally, the programme supports national REDD+ readiness efforts in 65 partner countries, spanning Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America.
World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)
The Forest Solutions Group (FSG) of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) is the global platform where businesses in the forest products value chain build and share solutions to lead sustainable development in the forest sector. FSG’s mission is to advance the bioeconomy and a thriving forest sector that sustains healthy productive forests and people’s well-being.
World Economic Forum (WEF)
The World Economic Forum (WEF) developed Strategic Intelligence that provides insights and contextual intelligence to explore and monitor the issues and forces driving transformational change across economies, industries, and global issues, among them, forests. The WEF hosts platforms supporting reforestation.
- 1t.org | 1t.org is a World Economic Forum initiative, designed to support the trillion tree community. 1t.org is a platform for leading governments, businesses, civil society and ecopreneurs committed to restoring and reforesting the planet.
- Tropical Forest Alliance | The Tropical Forest Alliance is a multistakeholder partnership platform initiated to support the implementation of private-sector commitments to remove deforestation from palm oil, beef, soy and pulp/paper supply chains. Hosted by the World Economic Forum, the 170+ alliance partners include companies, government entities, civil society, indigenous peoples, local communities and international organizations, working together through Forest-Positive Collective Action to advance the world’s transition to deforestation-free commodity supply chains.
WWF has been working on forest issues for 50 years. It has supported the creation of protected areas, helped move the forest sector towards sustainability and transparency, and worked across the world to halt deforestation, help restore forests and put deforestation-free commitments into action.
Canton of Geneva
Geneva is active in protecting biodiversity and forests, especially due to their proximity to the urban areas. While the human population is close to nature, it also induces significant pressures on the environments. As proposed in Geneva’s Strategy Plan on Biodiversity, it is essential to promote biodiversity at every scale, from land use planning to concrete achievements in neighborhoods or gardens. In addition, te forest reserve of the Grand Bois de Satigny was established by Geneva’s Conseil d’Etat on 23 May 2018. With nearly 100 hectares, it is one of the largest integral forest reserves in the Swiss Plateau, thus meeting the recommendations and priorities of the Swiss Confederation. All logging and active management of natural environments is prohibited in this reserve. The reserve remains fully open to the public and will offer future generations the opportunity to discover a large space devoted entirely to nature and its natural evolution.
Conservatory and Botanical Garden
With more than 200 years of history and fidelity to the spirit of its founders, the Conservatory and Botanical Garden of the City of Geneva (CJB) carries out its missions of exploration, research, education and protection, while continually enriching its collections, and ranks as one of the five most important in the world. The CJB offers to its numerous visitors a space of beauty and relaxation, of instruction on the conservation of a too-often, threatened nature while leading numerous regional, national and international research programmes, using the most modern techniques.
City of Geneva
Renowned for its parks, the City of Geneva has also approximately 70 hectares of forests, managed in an optimal and ecological way.
La Libellule is a non-profit association raising public environmental awareness through field activities, mainly in the Geneva region.
Pro Natura is the oldest nature preservation organization in Switzerland, with several protected sites with important wildlife such as the Centre Nature Vallon de l’Allondon and the Centre Nature de la Pointe à la Bise in Geneva.
The official event took place online 12 May, 13:30 – 15:30 CET.
- International Plant Protection Convention | IPPC
- UN Climate Action
- UN Climate Change
- UN Environment programme
- Convention on Biological Diversity
- Biodiversity and health | WHO
- International Day of Forests | FAO
- International Day of Forests | United Nations
- Global Forest Resources Assessment 2020 | FAO
- Publications by the FAO on the importance of pollinators
- FAO’s Global Action on Pollination Services for Sustainable Agriculture
- The power of pollinators: why more bees means better food | FAO
- Declining bee populations pose threat to global food security and nutrition | FAO
- FAO’s Global Action on Pollination Services for Sustainable Agriculture
- World Environment Day | Official Website
- World Environment Day | Geneva Environment Network