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The World's First International Phytosanitary Conference sets a global biosecurity agenda and addresses challenges in plant health

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Leading global authorities in plant health and biosecurity will meet at the First International Plant Health Conference (IPHC), co-organized by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) Secretariat and Defra.

More than 500 policymakers, academics and experts from more than 74 countries will gather at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Center in London to address current and future phytosanitary challenges, including the impacts of climate change, food security, environmental protection, facilitation of safe trade, and new pest pathways. and diseases, such as e-commerce. Taking place September 21-23, participants will share knowledge and discuss global scientific, technical, and regulatory issues, along with actions to address these existential threats to our society, economy, and environment.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that up to 40 percent of global crop production is lost each year to plant diseases, costing agricultural trade more than $220 billion, while invasive insects cause losses of at least 70 percent. billion US dollars. . The risks to food security, international trade, biodiversity and our precious natural environment from current and future disease outbreaks are all very real. Strengthening global biosecurity standards, implementing the International Plant Protection Convention and International Phytosanitary Standards, as well as promoting greater international cooperation and raising public awareness and participation in these challenges will be critical to protecting the global economy and the environment for future generations.

Nicholas Spence, UK Chief Plant Health Officer, said:

Plant health and biosecurity are fundamental to life on Earth. Plants provide 80 percent of the food we eat and 98 percent of the oxygen we breathe. In a changing climate, ensuring their continued health and vitality will be critical to safeguarding food security, safe international trade and a prosperous natural environment for future generations.

The UK upholds the highest biosecurity standards in Europe, but there is more that needs to be done to secure our future resilience – here and around the world. I look forward to meeting with international experts from a range of disciplines to discuss how to address the diverse and growing challenges facing our precious plant life.

Jingyuan Xia, director of the Plant Production and Protection Department, said:

Climate change and human actions have altered ecosystems and created new areas in which plant pests and diseases can thrive. When controlling pests and diseases, farmers should adopt, and policy makers should encourage, the use of environmentally friendly methods such as IPM.

Implementation of international plant health standards helps reduce the use of pesticides and toxins that kill pollinators, natural enemies of pests, and organisms important to a healthy environment. This results in healthier crops with less waste, which leads to improved human, plant and animal health.

Osama Al-Lisi, Secretary of the International Plant Protection Convention, said:

The 1st International Plant Health Conference is an important advance for our work in protecting plants from pests and diseases. We are very pleased to partner with Defra who shares FAO and the common objectives of the IPPC. We cannot underestimate the impact of plant pests and diseases on global food security, livelihoods, the environment and economies.

To achieve our goals and contribute to food security, environmental protection and facilitate safe trade, I encourage donors and governments to invest in phytosanitary capacity building, research and outreach. Let’s keep our collective efforts going and take bold action to maintain the momentum. When we protect plants, we protect our health and our lives.

Plenary sessions during the three days of the IRC will explore a range of scientific, regulatory and technical issues, including:

  • Regional perspectives on addressing outbreaks of ongoing pests and diseases, including Xylella fastidiosa, fall armyworm and coconut rhinoceros beetle.
  • How to increase the use of electronic phytosanitary certificates to make trade safer, faster and cheaper.
  • Develop and adopt early warning systems for pests and diseases to increase vigilance and preparedness for future disease outbreaks.

Furthermore, the IPHC aims to promote positive behavioral change by increasing public participation in biosecurity issues. For example, the importance of not bringing plants, trees, fruits and seeds indoors from outside, as doing so may inadvertently cause pests, diseases, and invasive species to be introduced or spread to new areas. This is in line with the UK Government’s longstanding ‘Don’t Risk It!’ initiative. The campaign, featured in the Animal and Plant Health Agency’s Gold Medal-Winning Pavilion at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022.

Protecting plant health is critical to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Healthy plants contribute to food security for all (SDG 2, Zero Hunger) and promote responsible food consumption and production (Goal 12). Plant protection helps protect biodiversity and the environment from the impact of plant pests (Goals 13 and 15), and facilitates safe trade, thus providing decent work and promoting economic growth (Goal 8). The International Plant Health Conference supports the delivery of the IPPC 2020-2030 Strategic Framework.

For more information, visit the International Plant Health Conference website.