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UN proclaims 2020 International Year of Plant Health

Healthy plants are the foundation for all life, ecosystem functions, and food security. Plant pests and diseases damage crops, reducing the availability of food and increasing its cost. Photo: Akil Mazumder.

The International Year of Plant Health will be marked in 2020 and is expected to increase awareness about the importance of healthy plants in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

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15 January 2019 | 0

The United Nations General Assembly adopt a resolution proclaiming 2020 as the International Year of Plant Health (IYPH).

The year is expected to increase awareness among the public and policy makers of the importance of healthy plants and the necessity to protect them in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

Today, up to 40% of global food crops are lost annually due to plant pests. In terms of economic value, plant diseases alone cost the global economy around $220 billion annually and invasive insects around $70 billion.

Neil Helyer of National Agrochemical Distributors and Fargo provided an introduction to the main pest species of commercial note in Irish horticultural crops; primarily with a focus on nursery, bedding, and pot plants, at GLAS 2018.

“The International Year of Plant Health is a key initiative to highlight the importance of plant health to enhance food security, protect the environment and biodiversity, and boost economic development”, said Dr Jingyuan Xia, secretary of the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC).

“Despite the increasing impact of plant pests, resources are scarce to address the problem. We hope this new International Year of Plant Health will trigger greater global collaboration to support plant health policies at all levels, which will contribute significantly to the Sustainable Development Agenda.”, he added.

Finland first proposed the year to the governing body of the IPPC in 2015. In July 2017, the FAO Conference adopted a resolution in support of the proposal. “Pests and diseases don’t carry passports or observe immigration requirements and, therefore, the prevention of the spread of such organisms is very much an international undertaking that requires the collaboration of all countries. This is why Finland proposed to proclaim 2020 the International Year of Plant Health.”, said Jari Leppä, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of Finland.

The UN General Assembly invited FAO, with the IPPC Secretariat, to serve as the lead agency to spearhead activities, and called on governments, civil society, and the private sector to engage at global, regional, and national levels. An International Plant Health Conference will be among thousands of plant health events to be held globally throughout 2020.

Healthy plants are the foundation for all life, ecosystem functions, and food security. Plant pests and diseases damage crops, reducing the availability of food and increasing its cost. Sustaining plant health protects the environment, forests and biodiversity from plant pests, addresses the effects of climate change, and supports efforts to end hunger, malnutrition, and poverty.

The IPPC is an international treaty that entered into force in 1952 and provides a framework to protect the world’s plant resources from the harm caused by pests. It is currently composed of 183 contracting parties. For more on the IPPC, check out their website.

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