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"Why Bees Matter?" Celebrating World Bee Day at the European Environment Agency

Copenhagen, 13 May 2019 – Ahead of the World Bee Day (20 May), The Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Copenhagen organised an event which was held at the premises of the European Environment Agency. The main theme was highlighting the importance of bees and other pollinators for our environment, food production and sustainable development. The lecturers who were invited by the Embassy of Slovenia drew attention to the essential role bees and other pollinators play in keeping people and the planet healthy.

The opening speeches of the event organised by the Embassy of Slovenia and hosted by the European Environment Agency were delivered by Hans Bruyninckx, Executive Director of the European Environment Agency and Edvin Skrt, Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia. Both emphasized current environmental issues, the importance of raising awareness about the role bees and other pollinators have and also highlighted the essence of sustainable agricultural practices for a sustainable environment.

Mr Vujadin Kovačević, DG Environment of the European Commission, presented the Commission's initiative on pollinators, its strategic goals and series of further measures which need to be taken by the European Union members in order to prevent the declining of pollinators in Europe and promote the endeavours to preserve them on a global scale. The initiative sets actions under three priorities: 1. Improving knowledge of pollinator decline, its causes and consequences, 2. Tackling the causes of pollinator decline and 3. Raising awareness, engaging society-at-large and promoting collaboration.

Dr Lučka Kajfež Bogataj, professor at the University of Ljubljana and the member of the international board for climate change, gave some insights into the alarming consequences human impact has had on the environment, pollinators included. Nevertheless, she stressed that it is not too late to make a difference, we would, however, need to be implement changes immediately and everywhere – locally and globally. Moreover, the nature can still be preserved, restored and used sustainably, but for this outcome, systematic transformative changes with a system-wide reorganisation across technological, economic and societal factors including paradigms, goals and values are needed. The visiting Slovenian lecturer concluded that new economic models, less reliance on GDP, a cross-governmental focus on the environment and shifting our values away from materialism are crucial ways leading to the goal of preserving our environment.

The panel discussion moderated by the head of the European Environment Agency PR team Katja Rosenbohm included Vujadin Kovačević, Prof. Lučka Kajfež Bogataj, Lars Fischer, amateur beekeeper, the winner of the best honey prize in Apimondia 2017 in Turkey, Lise Hansted, postdoc researcher at the Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences of the University of Copenhagen and John M Christensen, director of UNEP (UN Environment Programme) DTU Partnership. The main theme of the lively discussion was the impact climate change, intensive farming, pesticides and other activities affecting the environment have on bees and other pollinators. The ratio of honey bees and wild bees and other pollinators was also debated upon, the overall opinion being the importance of making space for all the pollinators which contribute immensely to sustainable development.
The panellists were concordant with the fact that pesticides and activities affecting the environment need to be reduced. Moreover, it is of great importance to make the society aware of biotic diversity of all the pollinators.

The event was concluded with a reception where guests could taste different types of Slovenian and Danish honey.