Embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Copenhagen /Events and News /

Webinar "Listen to the Bees", 20 May 2021, Copenhagen

On World Bee Day, 20 May 2021, the Embassy of Slovenia in Copenhagen, in collaboration with the European Environment Agency and Bybi, organized a webinar "Listen to the Bees". Prominent speakers from Denmark, Slovenia and the EU Institutions presented the significance of bees and other pollinators for the environment and for food safety/security. Loss and degradation of habitats have been identified as the main cause of pollinators' decline. With their diverse background, speakers provided 360 degrees' insight on the complex matter of World Bee Day agenda.

In the introduction, the Ambassador of Slovenia HE Mr Edvin Skrt said that pollination service by bees and other pollinators is essential for food production, biodiversity and for wellbeing of humanity and nature. Pollinators will play an important role also in the post-COVID-19 recovery. Head of the Biodiversity Group at the European Environment Agency Mr Brian MacSharry reminded that exactly one year ago The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, which calls for an action to protect and restore nature, was introduced. Ms Katja Rosenbohm, Head of Communications at the European Environment Agency, moderated the event.

As the first speaker, Mr Brian MacSharry continued with presentation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy in which also pollinators play an integral role. Existing numbers of pollinators are an excellent barometer of health of the environment. As currently only 26 % of land and 11 % of seas is being classified as protected areas, more effort should be taken by national governments to protect and restore biodiversity. It is a matter of food, nature, our health, our planet. Ms Ariana Ferfila, Head of Beekeeping Academy of Slovenia, presented the activities of the Academy, which was established as a response to a growing demand for rich Slovenian apicultural knowledge and expertise from abroad.  Ms Ferfila presented a background of World Bee Day together with extensive Slovenian efforts under this agenda. Mr Oliver Maxwell, Founder and Director of Bybi, Copenhagen's urban and socially responsible beekeeper organization, underlined the importance to reverse the process from industrial model of agriculture to a regenerative agriculture. He underlined the role of a community, which is consisted of plants, people, animals, including pollinators. Perception of people being not only consumers but also providers of honey by providing friendly environment for the bees could be a driver of change. Project Advisor at the Danish Beekeepers Association Dr Lise Hansted presented how significant relationship between pollinators and the environment is. In Denmark, only 13 % of land is uncultivated, the rest is being used for agriculture, commercial forestry, roads and cities. For this reason, it is essential to provide safe areas for pollinators in order to be able to migrate in vast crop fields or dense cities. German data show that in the past decade, abundance of pollinator has decreased by 78 %! Head of Association Wild Bees in Denmark Mr Jørgen Pedersen explained that Denmark has registered 292 species of pollinators, out of which a quarter is listed as endangered. Rare species of bees need rare plant and flowers to thrive. With that, Mr Pedersen raised a problem of not only concrete deserts but also a problem of green deserts with vast monoculture fields. A very much-needed solution for the future of all pollinators lies in an educated agriculture, while we can all contribute with planting wild flower seeds in our gardens and with building bee-hotels and urban greening in city areas. Ms Tanja Franotović, Senior Communication Officer at the DG Environment, European Commission presented the EU Pollinator Park project, which was launched in March this year. The projects tries to mainstream a biodiversity protection agenda and it aims at young people, in particular. Pollinators can be a very tangible tool for calling to action as well as in searching for the tools to resolve the biodiversity crisis.

After the Q and A session with virtual audience, discussion concluded that solutions do exist, like a regenerative agriculture or more responsible and sustainable action by each individual could be. The concerns addressed by World Bee Day agenda are not only a honeybee issue but also a wider pollinator issue. Care for pollinators can, at the same time, tackle climate change and food security/safety, especially if switching focus to a local and sustainable food production. In the end, audience was invited to participate in an interactive poll.

In the afternoon, an official launch and presentation of the "Sound Walk with Bees" app followed at Grønningen in Amager, Copenhagen. "Sound Walk with Bees" is an audio app for smart phones that users can listen in order to experience life from the perspective of a bee. The app was developed by Bybi with support of the Slovenian Embassy in Copenhagen.